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Complications for foreign media outlets in China

Last week when Cronkite students visited The Wall Street Journal Asia office, the hot topic of conversation was the foreign media’s restriction on hiring Chinese journalists.

But today, when we visited Bloomberg’s Shanghai office, a different theme was on the forefront of the agenda: Companies neglecting foreign media outlets in China.

Stephanie Wong, bureau chief for the office, said one of the biggest struggles to overcome in Shanghai is getting access to information in a timely manner. She noted that in the United States, journalists can expect to receive certain press releases, trend information or market statistics on a regular basis. In China, however, that is not so much the case.

“Information doesn’t come in on certain days or times,” she said. “You have to be constantly looking for information on sites if you want it.”

Stephanie Wong at Bloomberg's Shanghai offices.

Wong said it helps that domestic news organizations sometimes know when and where the information can be found because reporters can then pick up stories and find the numbers based on that.

Another reason getting access to information is difficult in Shanghai is because companies tend to neglect foreign media organizations like both Bloomberg and Reuters. Wong said Bloomberg journalists are not always invited or even informed about the occurrence of press conferences and are sometimes even restricted from getting access to those meetings.

“They feel they don’t need us so they don’t want us,” she said.

That’s why Wong stressed the importance of foreign journalists establishing strong relationships with companies that operate in China. She noted that going to companies in person and setting up interviews with the executives is a key strategy in getting Chinese companies to open up.

Before concluding the discussion on foreign media, Wong gave one final piece of advice to Cronkite students and to any business journalists interested in working foreign news organizations.

“Learn to deal with your sources the best that you can,” she said. “That’s how you get the scoop.”

About the Author

Christine Harvey (cmharve1@asu.edu) is a senior at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. She is a minor in political science and has a keen interest in international relations. This summer, she will intern as a business reporter for the Seattle Time and will then go on to graduate from the Cronkite school in December of 2011.

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