Alibaba COO Joe Tsai was one of the big names at RISE yesterday, but if you went hoping for an insight into a media title grappling with digital, you’d have been disappointed.
There was almost nothing that we didn’t hear at the time of the acquisition, rather confirming the view that the Alibaba crew are billionaire dilettantes not terribly interested in their new media toy.
They’ve been at it for 18 months but neither Tsai nor SCMP CEO Gary Liu could share a single number about page views, ad sales or investment.
The SCMP’s ‘exclusive’ interview with new boss Jack Ma is exactly as you’d expect.
The one highlight is the unintentional lulz from writer Chow Chungyan, who declared that the acquisition had sparked fears that the Post would “change its direction.” That is 100% wrong; people feared it wouldn’t change course. He adds:
A few even believed the paper might henceforth gloss over sensitive or controversial issues that risked incurring the wrath of the Chinese leadership.
To prove that the Post wasn’t in the glossing over business, the writer refrains from asking about the Panama Papers coverage, the steady decline in press freedom and the bookseller abductions and instead lets Ma to treat us to banalities about eastern philosophy. Continue reading