The Paper Aimed To Make Sixth Tone The Number One Platform For Foreign Readers To Understand China

摘要: Recently, The Paper, known as an idealist in Chinese media circle, publicly kicked off an English-language version called Sixth Tone in hopes of telling the uncommon stories of common Chinese to foreign readers.

(Chinese Version)

Recently, The Paper, known as an idealist in Chinese media circle, publicly kicked off an English-language version called Sixth Tone in hopes of telling the uncommon stories of common Chinese to foreign readers.

Why “Sixth Tone”, then? As is known to all, there are five tones in Mandarin Chinese: 1st tone, 2nd tone, 3rd tone, 4th tone and neutral tone. In this sense, Sixth Tone believes there is room for other voices that go beyond buzzwords and headlines to tell the uncommon stories of common people.

According to Sixth Tone’s website:

“Through fresh takes on trending topics, in-depth features, and illuminating contributions, Sixth Tone covers issues from the perspectives of those most intimately involved to highlight the nuances and complexities of today’s China.”

The lead story on Sixth Tone’s pre-debut home page, “Waking Up to the Threat of Domestic Violence,” mirrors The Paper’s emphasis on legal reporting.

The lead story on Sixth Tone’s pre-debut home page, “Waking Up to the Threat of Domestic Violence,” mirrors The Paper’s emphasis on legal reporting.

There are three major sections on Sixth Tone:

  • Rising Tones are timely reports on issues and events from across China. Drawing on a vast range of sources, these succinct articles provide insights into the significance of each issue in a wider context.
  • Deep Tones are features that cut to the core of contemporary China. In-depth, informed, and carefully crafted, every piece is carried by the voices of the story’s participants.
  • Broad Tones are contributions from individuals with unique perspectives to share. This section is dedicated to a wide range of people, from experts and commentators to those whose voices are rarely heard.

Previously, it was reported that Sixth Tone aimed to report on “everyday China” through Western journalistic style. The ultimate goal of Sixth Tone was to establish a discourse style of its own and become the number one platform for readers from the English world to get to know China and the social transformation happening every day.

The Paper’s Sixth Tone attracted the attention of several foreign media, including The New York Times, whose reporter Didi Kirsten Tatlow interviewed Wei Xing, chief editor of Sixth Tone and the former deputy editor in chief of The Paper, issued a long report titled “Digital Paper in China Covers Contentious Issues, Now in English”.

The Paper made its name with stories about controversial topics such as corruption, toxic vaccine, etc. and kept attracting huge attention from the public. According to the report, foreign media seemed to pay more attention how Sixth Tone was going to “tell the uncommon stories of the common Chinese under government pressure.

For Mr. Wei, Sixth Tone would have an easier time. While all Chinese media outlets were to some degree state-controlled, Sixth Tone lacked a politics-saturated bureaucracy because it was a start-up. “We just tell the stories with a more human factor,” Mr. Wei said. Still, Mr. Wei recognized the limits: “But it’s difficult to specify one case.”

The Paper, featuring political news, news comment and analysis, is the first successful product of the restructured Shanghai United Media Group. It is said that The Paper’s smartphone app has been downloaded about 10 million times, and that the group plan to initially invest RMB 30 million in Sixth Tone, which planned to make money from advertising, Mr. Wei said.

During the interview, Mr. Wei reiterated that they were different from other Chinese media. Eager to embrace a zippy start-up culture sweeping China, Sixth Tone’s editors ordered the internal walls of an old newspaper office torn down when they introduced the all-digital site in 2014, so journalists could communicate more easily. “

In addition to 22 Chinese and eight non-Chinese staff, Sixth Tone would use the resources of The Paper, which include a network of about 400 text and multimedia journalists — and a drone.

“We are all digital. We are born to be digital. We want to do data journalism, video journalism, graphics, multimedia reports, panorama videos, virtual reality,” Mr. Wei said.

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[The article is published and edited with authorization from the author @TMTpost-Chinese, please note source and hyperlink when reproduce.]

Translated by Levin Feng (Senior Translator at PAGE TO PAGE), working for TMTpost.

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