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Media company The China Project shuts due to funding problem

BEIJING: One of the few independently funded English-language publications to cover China in depth for Western audiences, The China Project, is to close because of a lack of funding, its editor-in-chief, Jeremy Goldkorn, wrote in a post.

The China Project, which began as a newsletter in 2016 and was formerly known as SupChina, expanded to become a “news and business intelligence company focused on helping a global audience understand China”, it says on its website.

Its products included the popular China news and society-themed Sinica podcast, articles on a wide range of China-themed topics on its website, a business intelligence data product “ChinaEDGE” and organising conferences.

Staff numbers increased too. But as with a number of online-based media companies in recent years, such as Buzzfeed News, financing became a problem.

“The media business is precarious,” Goldkorn wrote in a statement on the website.

“This week, we learned that a source of funding that we had been counting on was no longer going to come through, and we have had to make the difficult decision to close down.”

The company sought to produce “balanced” reporting on China and US-China-themed topics. But this attracted criticism as relations between the two powers sank to new depths.

“We have been accused many times in both countries of working for nefarious purposes for the government of the other,” Goldkorn said.

“Defending ourselves has incurred enormous legal costs, and, far worse, made it increasingly difficult for us to attract investors, advertisers, and sponsors. While our subscription offerings have been growing strongly and steadily, we are not yet in a position to rely on these revenues to sustain our operations.”

Media companies globally have had mixed success with subscription models.

The China Project’s subscription package offered “the internet’s best birds-eye view of China” for US$120 a year, which was still on offer to site visitors on Tuesday, according to a Reuters check.

“We do not have a business model problem,” company CEO Bob Guterma told Reuters via email.

“We made big plans and pursued them boldly with the full backing of our investors. But in the past six months, investor interest has dropped off precipitously due to economic and geopolitical headwinds. We became unable to sustain what we had grown into.”

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