Looks like The New York Times’ groundbreaking, paywalled deal with Flipboard was yesterday’s news: today comes another development for the Grey Lady and how she is working hard to leverage social media for the next stage of growth. The New York times appears to be preparing for a launch of a NY Times China website tomorrow, and in the lead-up to that it has created its own account on Sina Weibo (pictured, right), a Chinese equivalent of Twitter — a development first spotted by the Tech In Asia blog.
We have reached out to the New York Times to confirm what is going on. A visit to cn.nytimes.com — the site of the Chinese edition — requires a password to enter. Update: The New York Times has now confirmed that it is launching its Chinese-language site on Thursday morning, Beijing time. A new post is on that here.
The Weibo account has so far made two entries. The first is a welcome post (in Chinese, and translated here thanks to Google): “Hello, everyone, The New York Times Chinese Sina official microblogging [service] officially began operation! From today to push to the Chinese readers a selection of wonderful New York Times reports.”
The second is a link to a NY Times story on Amazon from May.
The Weibo account currently has nearly
9,000 over 10,000 followers at the time of writing, and they’re growing. When Tech In Asia reported the news just a little while ago, the account had around 3,000 followers.
That points to an appetite for more news from abroad coming to the Chinese market, perhaps just as strongly as companies in the West want to ride the wave of internet and mobile growth in a country of nearly 1 billion people, with a rapidly growing middle class.
Doing business in China, however, has been a mixed bag for non-Chinese companies. Facebook and Twitter, for example, only work in the country through proxy servers; and Google has also had problems with its search business there coming up against what people commonly call the “Great Chinese Firewall,” or the country’s media and internet censors.
This has resulted in a rise of homegrown services that offer many of the same features as their Western counterparts — Sina Weibo being one example — that fall on the right side of Chinese authorities.
Coincidentally for the NY Times, Flipboard, along with a handful of other social media companies like Instagram and Path, have had better luck in China. Flipboard in March launched a bilingual edition of its app in China, integrating it with local social networks for people to share their content with each other more easily.
Given Flipboard’s traction in the country, it may be that if the news of the NY Times in China is true, it will be using that Flipboard relationship to build out that effort even further.
We’ve reached out to the New York Times and will update this as we learn more. [New story here]