Ever since 2012, when The New York Times published a story about the hidden fortune stashed away by the family of Chinese prime minister Wen Jiabao, China’s censors have blocked both the paper’s English-language and Chinese-language websites.
Now, Quartz writer Heather Timmons reports that The New York Times has deployed a number of strategies to spread its stories to web platforms that haven’t yet been censored by the Chinese authorities, then pivoting and finding new platforms as fast as the government discovers and censors their old ones. These techniques include setting up “mirror” websites that simultaneously publish New York Times stories about China, creating new mobile news apps for Chinese readers to use to download stories directly to their phones, and setting up accounts on Chinese social media wherein to post stories. These mirror sites, apps, and accounts are shut down as soon as the government notices them, but the paper just sets up new ones.
In 2013, Huffington Post reporter Michael Calderone also noticed a novel New York Times strategy to get around Chinese censors: the launch of T Magazine, a high-end, Chinese-language site that ignores politics and business reporting altogether and keeps its beat strictly focused on wealthy lifestyle coverage.
Whether it’s due to the paper’s alleged Internet sleight-of-hand or its Gucci reporting, The New York Times’s managing director for China tells Quartz that its readership level inside China is back to the level it was before the 2012 crackdown.