NYT’s websites were blocked last year after it published an investigation into the alleged $-2.7 billion wealth amassed by former Premier Wen Jiabao’s family.
The New York Times Company on Thursday announced the launch of a Chinese language-website and said it would, next year, host in New York the third edition of the World Media Summit — a forum co-launched by China’s official Xinhua news agency and eight other news organisations in Beijing in 2009.
NYT’s new outreach comes even as it engages Chinese authorities to lift restrictions on its websites, which were blocked last year after it published an investigation into the alleged $-2.7 billion wealth amassed by former Premier Wen Jiabao’s family.
The move to launch a new Chinese-language online version of the paper’s T Magazine was announced here by Arthur Sulzberger Jr., Publisher and Chairman of the New York Times Company, at a meeting of members of the World Media Summit.
The WMS is a media forum co-founded by the Xinhua, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, the Associated Press, Reuters, ITAR-TASS of Russia, Kyodo News of Japan, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and Google in 2009 in Beijing, where its first meeting was held. The second summit was hosted in Moscow last year. Its current 14 members also include the NYT, Al Jazeera, NBC News and Kasturi & Sons Limited, publishers of The Hindu.
Mr. Sulzberger said the NYT was “delighted to be engaged in the WMS” as he announced that the newspaper would host next year’s meeting in New York.
The members of the WMS on Thursday also discussed setting up global prizes to recognise public service journalism. The forum agreed on the need for global media organisations to work more closely together, particularly on the question of journalists’ safety, and proposed the idea of holding safety workshops. Next year’s summit will emphasise the theme of “media without borders”, Mr. Sulzberger said.
Among those present were Xinhua’s president Li Congjun; Mr. Sulzberger; Gary Pruitt, President and CEO, Associated Press; and N. Ram, Director, Kasturi & Sons Ltd.
Whether or not the decision by the WMS — of which the Chinese government’s official Xinhua News Agency is a key founding member —to take up the NYT’s offer reflects a possible easing of the authorities’ position towards the NYT following the recent strains remains unclear.
Official sources pointed out that as Xinhua was under a different government department, the decision did not necessarily imply that the recent censorship and visa restrictions would be removed immediately.
However, the NYT’s offer to host the next summit was described by observers as reflecting a healing process in the organisation’s recently troubled relationship with the Chinese government and a possible narrowing of differences.
The NYT’s English and Chinese language websites still remain blocked following the Wen Jiabao ‘expose’. In December, the NYT’s Executive Editor, Jill Abramson, said journalist Chris Buckley had been “forced to relocate outside of China” after requests to renew his visa had been denied.
The newspaper’s newly launched Chinese-language website, cn.tmagazine.com, is, however, accessible in China. It will carry articles on fashion, real estate and travel and has been launched under the umbrella of the weekend T Magazine.