China’s new-media companies have hired dozens of foreign journalists and editors, as Beijing seeks to bolster its coverage of the world’s second-largest economy and fend off an onslaught of local competitors.
The hiring spree was a first for the country’s media companies, which have long struggled to attract the foreign talent they need to compete with global giants.
In a sign that China’s government is taking a new look at how to invest in its fledgling media industry, Beijing has appointed more than 60 foreign journalists to its National Development and Reform Commission, the state-run media agency that oversees the countrys state-controlled media.
A recent report by a nonprofit group, China Media Project, showed that China was losing more than $1 billion to local media this year, which analysts say is far short of its projections of more than a trillion yuan ($2.3 trillion) in revenue from its booming economy.
The countrys media industry has faced a sharp decline in subscriber numbers and foreign coverage since Beijing took control of the industry in 2008.
China has spent more than 200 billion yuan ($3.2 trillion) on the media since then, a fraction of what it spent in the first half of last year, according to the government.
China’s economy has grown by more than 7 percent in the last year and more than 10 percent in 2015.
The media industry is also trying to fend off a barrage of competition from foreign companies, with more than 1,200 local newspapers in more than 100 languages and websites across China this year.
At the same time, China’s foreign media industry remains largely dependent on foreign media.
Its media market share in the global newspaper market fell to 10 percent last year from 24 percent a decade earlier.
Chinese media companies have long been in the business of selling newspapers to foreign buyers, who pay more for print content than they do for video and audio, and then distribute it online.
The vast majority of those media companies still have no plans to make money from selling newspapers.
The latest hires reflect a strategy by the government to diversify its media business away from traditional print media and toward digital platforms such as social media and social-networking platforms.
For example, a Beijing-based media company that is part of the Chinese state broadcaster CCTV recently said it is planning to create a digital news service, a move that could help it compete against online news portals and newspapers.
China’s government has also been increasingly trying to promote its state-owned media as a source of local news.
Last year, the government launched a digital-first government media platform called the Internet of the People, which aims to help China’s state-led media develop more local news content, as well as to promote the country to foreign audiences.