The changing Chinese press

Cécile Armand has been posting on her work on the evolution of the Republican-era Chinese press, based on Carl Crow’s Newspaper Directory of China. Although this is a source with limited coverage (it was aimed at advertisers who wanted to pick out the best Chinese and foreign language newspapers and periodicals to sell things in) it does provide a consistent series to let her track things like the expansion of the press outside the major centers,changing layouts etc. It also has circulation numbers, which are often hard to find. As she acknowledges, Crow’s coverage was not complete. From my own poking around Crow’s1935 edition lists 88 publications founded in 1931. 王桧林,朱汉国 编 -中国报刊字典(1815-1949 )- 书海出版社 太原, 1992 lists 142 for the same year, all in Chinese. There are a number of discrepancies between the two right off the bat. 西北文化日報 is the first new publication for 1931 that Wang and Zhu list, but Crow has it starting publication in 1929.1 The next is 读书月刊, published in Shanghai. This ceased publication in 1933, so it should not be in Crow’s 1935 edition, but it is also not in the 1931 edition. 安徽建设公报 is also listed in Wang and Zhu and not Crow, although it maybe did not take advertising. One thing I would have liked was a bit more on how representative Crow is. I suppose it would not be that hard to pick a year and try and come up with a list of a lot of the things that were in print that year that are not in Crow and say something about what the Crow sample -is-. What sort of journals is Crow leaving out? (I assume the more left-wing things were not selling much advertising. ) How would the changes look different if you counted pages published rather than number of titles? (A 30 page monthly is not the same thing as a 50 page weekly). Is the expansion of publishing into the provinces a change in the overall Chinese publishing industry? Or just an artifact of Crow’s clients reaching deeper into the provinces to find customers? How much of the change in English-language publishing (by far the most important non-Chinese language) is a change in foreign readership and how much a change in the Chinese readership for English language periodicals? (Wei Shuge dealt with some of this.) I am finding it really interesting digging through all this, but it is making me hungry for the later versions of the study with more context.

  1. This is not that surprising, since any two sources may have different data and also these two were collecting data differently. Crow seems to have mostly worked from what the journal publishers told him, and Wang and Zhu were working from what they could find in libraries.  

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.