When Amazon’s founder and CEO Jeff Bezos paid USD 250 million for The Washington Post two years ago, some may have wondered what was the longterm plan behind the purchase. Since then Bezos however, according to The Verge, has more or less kept his hands off the business.
When Alibaba now enters the world of news through buying South China Morning Post for an estimated USD 266 million, the reason again is somewhat unclear. The New York Times cites a spokesperson for Alibaba who apparently has said the purchase "was fueled by a desire to improve China's image and offer an alternative to what it calls the biased lens of Western news outlets". The New York Times also speculates in what political motives could be behind Alibaba’s purchase of the newspaper.
"The World Needs a Plurality of Views"
In an open letter to the readers of South China Morning Post, cited in The Verge, Joseph Tsai, vice-chairman of Alibaba, answers the critique. He insists the paper’s readers can expect the news coverage to be objective, accurate and fair.
- Some have suggested that ownership by Alibaba will compromise the SCMP's editorial independence. This criticism reflects a bias of its own, as if to say newspaper owners must espose certain views, while those that hold opposing views are 'unfit.' In fact, that is exactly why we think the world needs a plurality of views when it comes to China coverage. China's rise as an economic power and its importance to world stability is too important for there to be a singular thesis, he writes.
Through the purchase of South China Morning Post Alibaba also becomes the owner of a few other magazines, including the Hong Kong editions of Cosmopolitan and Esquire.