The eagle-eyed Nieman Journalism Lab took a closer look at this very convincing advertorial on The Washington Post‘s website today, which displays content from the State-run Chinese newspaper China Daily under the banner “China Watch.” Though the banner says “A paid supplement to The Washington Post,” the formatting could be mistaken for a WaPo section at first glance or if unaware that “paid supplement” means advertising.
The supplement’s content is uniformly neutral-to-positive, with propagandist undertones. An article in the Business vertical titled “Rare Earth Elements Undervalued” reads:
Therefore, the governments’ policy should be to support mergers of and restructuring among enterprises. In other words, it should help bigger enterprises to purchase the shares of smaller ones to create a more integrated market. In an ideal situation, three to five giant enterprises should be left to exploit rare earth.
A WaPo spokeswoman told Nieman that the supplement was clearly enough marked and it will be up until September 2011. In the past WaPo has run similar paid content section “Russia Now” from Russia’s state-run Rossiyskaya Gazeta.