China’s technology and startup scene
Daxue Consulting interviewed John Artman, Editor-in-Chief for TechNode’s English, to understand better the Chinese Tech media industry and China’s technology and startup scene. In this interview, John Artman shares his knowledge on the Chinese media tech scene and gives us insights on various topics including the difference between podcasting in China and Western countries and the impact of the media censorship in China for tech media businesses.
John Artman, Editor-in-Chief for TechNode’s English content and guest of China Paradigm podcast
After graduating from the Appalachian State University in 2006, John Artman has held the positions of a child care worker, senior English teacher, but also worked as an assistant program director on the China Radio International for more than 5 years.
Fluent in Chinese and passionate by the business of technology, he is now the Editor in Chief of TechNode, a famous player in the Chinese tech media industry. John Artman is also known as a podcaster narrating the latest news on China’s technology and startup scene.
A Chinese tech media for westerners
TechNode is one of the major players of the Chinese Tech media industry and was founded in 2007 by Dr. Lu Gang with the aim of sharing on China’s technology and startup scene to the rest of the world. The media offers a variety of content ranging from their daily/ weekly newsletters and a large panel of news articles to their famous podcasts China Tech Talk and China Tech Investor.
As explained by John Artman during the interview, the company’s uniqueness comes from its proximity to the Chinese industry:
“It [TechNode] is more than a media company. We get a lot of opportunities to talk with executives and people on the ground to really figure out what’s going on. I think that’s really what it is about. It’s about figuring out what’s going on and then write a story to explain that to our readers.”
China’s technology and startup scene and the couverture by tech media
China’s technology and startup scene have boomed over the last few years in China. As a result, Western countries have gained more and more interest in the field thus allowing the Chinese tech media industry to grow.
John Artman describes a rather diverse market where big companies like Bloomberg or Reuters are now also playing a key role and competing against TechNode or 36Kr, for instance. Nevertheless, companies opt for different strategies and editorial lines.
For example, when asked how TechNode compares itself to TechCrunch, John Artman answers:
“I think one of the biggest differences is that we’re a lot less bloggy than they are.”
The Chinese tech media industry is therefore really diverse. Readers can decide whether to consume highly factual content or opt for articles that give more space to personal opinions.
The difference between podcasts in China and Western countries
During the interview, John Artman describes how he perceives the difference between podcasting in China compared to Western countries. He starts:
“Podcasting in the West is very similar to talk radio, where you have one person talking for a long time […] whereas podcasting in China is just any audio content. It could be storytelling; it could be in some cases discussions but in most cases, it’s actually educational.”
Another key difference between podcasts in China and Western countries, according to the Editor-in-Chief of TechNode, is that it is common for Chinese people to pay for content while it is generally not the case for Westerners. Accordingly, finding podcasts on the open web is only exceptions in the People’s Republic of China.
Media censorship in China: impact on the tech scene
When discussing the topic of media in China, one of the first thing that comes into mind is the censorship imposed by the government. During the interview, the guest discusses the impact that it has on the content delivered by his company:
“We are to a certain degree under the radar, but at the same time we don’t touch on sensitive issues”.
The Chinese tech media industry is therefore not the one that is most concerned by censorship. John Artman says:
“We cover tech, tech is pretty neutral in general and then, when it does come to potentially sensitive issues, we try our best to avoid those”.
During the interview, John Artman also mentions the importance of not standing out from competitors by touching sensitive subjects on a too regular basis. All in all, censorship is always considered but does not seems to have a particularly restraining influence on the Chinese tech media industry.
Listen to this episode here: