By David Bandurski — The news page at QQ.com yesterday was dominated by media-related stories. There was foreign ministry spokesperson Liu Jianchao (刘建超) denying suggestions made by some overseas media that Olympics security procedures discriminated against certain groups of foreigners, including Africans and Mongolians. There was the news story from the Global Times about how Germany’s Stern magazine had offended the Chinese people with its map of China.
But topping the list of news stories, with a big headline splashed across the page, was news, re-run from Xinhua News Agency’s International Herald Leader, that scores of formerly taboo foreign publications were now available in the capital, thanks to the approach of the Olympic Games.
“The Olympics are coming! Foreign publications are coming too!” the article gushed.
[ABOVE: Screenshot of news page at QQ.com, 10:05 pm, July 21, 2008.]
The story said hundreds of employees from China’s “largest importer of printed materials” were busy working overtime to get publications out. Foreign publications would be made available through eight specially designated newsstands within the Olympic park, distributers said.
QQ emphasized in its headline the article’s point that publications would be available to “ordinary city residents” as well. But the newsstands are scheduled to operate until only September 24, after which time, presumably, “ordinary city residents” will be out of luck.
In an interesting illustration of how commercial calculations increasingly call the shots in China’s media, the International Herald Leader sought to sell the foreign publications story with references to America’s Playboy magazine and whether it would be available on Olympic newsstands.
The headline topping the frontpage of the latest edition of the International Herald Leader read, “Playboy’s Olympic Dream,” and the page featured a large image of a foreign male peering at an issue of the magazine. The bottom half of the page was an article about the government’s anti-terrorism efforts in the lead-up to the Games, the headline: “Beijing sounds a people’s war against terrorism.”
[Frontpage of July 21 issue of Xinhua’s International Herald Leader.]
One of the Xinhua publication’s more questionable image choices to go along with the Playboy angle of the story was a view through the gates of the Forbidden City, with the five-colored Olympic rings hanging in the grey sky beyond, and a line of Playboy covers running across the top of the entrance.
[ABOVE: Screenshot from QQ.com of IHL foreign publications story image.]
Will Playboy be available on Olympic newsstands? Responses from distributors, we are told by the International Herald Leader, were “unclear.”
[Posted by David Bandurski, July 22, 2008, 12:13am HK]