Telum Talks To... Zhou Xin, Technology Editor, South China Morning Post

Telum Talks To... Zhou Xin, Technology Editor, South China Morning Post

Can you tell us more about your readership and your role?
For South Morning Post (SCMP)’s China technology news, most of our readers come from the United States. They account for about one-third of our technology news' total readership. Readers from the US are followed by those from Singapore and Hong Kong. This is largely in line with our overall readership structure.
Our readers read SCMP’s technology news to get insights on China's technology policies, updates on China’s technology developments and news on China’s major technology companies. 
My role as Technology Editor is to ensure SCMP remains a trustworthy and timely source of technology news for our readers, so we can help them with their research, studies and investment decisions. 
In your own words, how has technology revolutionised the media?
SCMP is a 118-year-old publication, and it has always been changing with the development of technologies. The way newsrooms operate has also changed drastically. Due to Covid-19, remote working has become a new normal, and we are lucky because SCMP had already been operating with a digital-first mindset, enabling journalists to be connected to work from virtually anywhere. 
The way consumers consume news has also changed completely. It's rare to see people reading print newspapers these days on the MTR as everyone is reading news on their mobile phones or tablets. As such, our news products have to evolve accordingly. Every subscriber of our print version in Hong Kong sees the same design layout and story flow. But with our mobile app, each reader can consume news based on their unique preferences, and the sequence of the stories they read can be different for everyone. That’s really a revolutionary change. In the future, with the development of machine learning technologies, I believe there is a possibility that every subscriber will have his or her own version of SCMP.
How do you and your team determine what to feature on the website?
We always try to provide readers with stories that are factual, interesting and relevant. In terms of topics, we focus on three main areas. We look at how China's technology industry and investors are impacted by the evolving regulatory environment and policies. In addition, we continue to cover the technology war between China and the United States. Another area of interests concerns corporates and the startup community in Hong Kong.  
At the same time, we definitely cover stories that our readers are interested in reading. For instance, when Elon Musk tweeted a Chinese poem, we published a story to explain the meaning of the poem and the possible reasons for him to have done that.

What is the editorial focus for 2022 and what can readers expect and look forward to?
On top of the content mentioned above, my team will enhance our coverage of NFTs in the coming year. If you follow SCMP’s technology coverage closely, you can see we are covering the subject more and more. There are many questions unanswered and there are debates about the future of NFT, which fuel the need for fact-based, insightful and unbiased reporting. Also, the NFT community in Hong Kong is growing quickly. As you may know, the SCMP is also developing its own NFT project, ARTIFACTs by SCMP. It is both an opportunity and a responsibility for us as a Hong Kong-based newspaper.
Tips - How can PRs work with you efficiently?
I have a lot of respect for public relations work, and I don't think I am in the right position to advise them on how to improve their efficiency.
As George Orwell has put it, "journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed: everything else is public relations". 
So, in my view, a good starting point may be the mutual recognition that journalists and PRs might not be on the same page in terms of how to run a particular story. Never tell a journalist or editor which words to use. It'd probably be worse than committing a criminal offence as it would be taking away the basic editorial rights of a newsroom. And it’s no fun.

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  • Xin Zhou
  • South China Morning Post
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    28 media requests
  • South China Morning Post Technology
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