It’s with sadness that we at Beijing Today say goodbye. For the last 774 weeks, our reporters have chronicled life in the Chinese capital and across the country, and it has been an honor to serve the city’s English-speaking community.
Beijing Today’s final print issue arrives just one month shy of the 15th anniversary of its founding on May 11, 2001.
The world was a very different place with very different needs 15 years ago, and nowhere is that more obvious than in our rapidly evolving city. At the founding of Beijing Today, Internet access in China remained scarce and expensive, smartphones did not exist and personal computers and laptops were seen as more of a luxury than an essential daily tool.
Like so many media ventures, we were created with an audacious goal: to spring off from Beijing’s pre-Olympic boom and beat China Daily in five years. That did not happen. But Beijing Today did manage to carve out a niche for itself in the capital’s media landscape.
In the years before bloggers and foreign media took an intense interest in the Chinese capital, Beijing Today was the lone English voice serving the local community with stories neglected by its more politically oriented competitors.
Our paper was on the ground during the SARS crisis of 2003, during Beijing’s Olympic transformation of 2008 and during the country’s spectacular 60th anniversary in 2009. Our coverage also brought a local connection to national events when devastating earthquakes snuffed out lives across the southwest and post-holiday labor troubles left foreigners wondering whether the magic engine of the Chinese economy had finally run out of fairy dust.
And during those 15 years the city has grown.
Beijing’s population has nearly doubled from 13 million people at our first issue to more than 21 million people today, and our East Third Ring Road office is no longer considered “far outside the city center.” China’s population of long-term foreign residents – many of whom have settled in Beijing – has also grown 35 percent to reach 685,775 in 2010.
But no media is immune to fundamental changes in how humans communicate.
As a community made up primarily of students, young graduates and exchange workers, Beijing’s expats experience a continuous churn as 20-year-olds arrive and 40-years-olds depart. And with those departing China hands goes the generation that consumed print media.
Beijing Today began its digital transition in 2009, and by 2013 had deployed an accessible website and joined the social media revolution. Our stories today can be found on Facebook, Twitter, WeChat and other social media. We are proud that our digital edition has won millions of readers from literally all over the world and produced some of the most shared China stories of the last year. That work will continue even as the print edition stops arriving at your doorstep.
We would like to thank our thousands of subscribers for being with us through so many interesting years of change, and invite them to join us as we cut ties with our print past and complete our fully digital transition.
- ISSUU (issuu.com/beijingtoday)
- The Internet Archive (archive.org/@beijing_today)