New York Times media columnist Ben Smith wrote an article for the paper Sunday expressing concern about China’s propaganda efforts, but the Times itself profited from a relationship with Chinese state media for years.
Smith’s column discussed China’s wide scope of media influence, which extends all the way to tiny countries like Guinea-Bissau. China has paid to modernize newsrooms in other countries, invested in foreign media groups, and distributed its propaganda newspaper China Daily in other languages all over the world, Smith reported.
“What seemed, in each country, like an odd local anomaly looked, all told, like a vast, if patchwork, strategy to create an alternative to a global news media dominated by outlets like the BBC and CNN, and to insert Chinese money, power and perspective into the media in almost every country in the world,” Smith said. (RELATED: Brits Shut Down Chinese Propaganda Outlet CGTN, Which Also Operates In The US)
“@baggottcarter…said her research has found that American news organizations whose journalists accepted official trips to China subsequently ‘made a pivot from covering military competition to covering economic cooperation.'” https://t.co/Nm79cmVuxr
— Gabriel Debenedetti (@gdebenedetti) May 9, 2021
China uses its vast media influence to spread narratives portraying China in the best possible light – a goal that became increasingly important to the country during the novel coronavirus pandemic. Beijing also uses disinformation to portray China in as positive of a light as possible, a report from the International Federation of Journalists said according to Smith’s column.
But up until the beginning of 2020, the Times itself profited from a relationship with China Daily, which paid to run propaganda on the site. China Daily filings, which represent its spending in the U.S. back to 2016, showed that the Times received $100,000 per month to print Chinese propaganda and was paid $50,000 to put Chinese propaganda on its website in 2018, according to a report from the Washington Free Beacon.
“We made the decision at the beginning of this year to stop accepting branded content ads from state run media, which includes China Daily,” a NYT spokeswoman told the Free Beacon.
The Times ran more than 200 advertorials over the past ten years. Some of the articles downplayed China’s human rights abuses, but the paper ran other articles detailing oppression by China. Following the backlash, the paper quietly deleted hundreds of the advertorials paid for by the Chinese Communist Party.
The Washington Post, the Houston Chronicle and the Chicago Tribune have also been paid by China Daily, although a Washington Post spokesman told the Free Beacon that the paper hadn’t run an advertorial since 2019.
Ben Smith did not immediately respond to a request for comment.