The Epoch Times
|This article relies on references to primary sources. (October 2014)|
Front page of the New York edition on October 10, 2013
|Language||Multiple, mainly Chinese and English|
|Headquarters||New York City, U.S.|
|Circulation||1,314,375 (2012, unaudited)|
|The Epoch Times|
The Epoch Times is a multi-language, international media organisation associated with the Falun Gong. As a newspaper, the Times has been publishing in Chinese since May 2000. Headquartered in New York City, the newspaper has local news bureaus and a network of local reporters throughout the world. It is either sold or distributed free-of-charge in roughly 35 countries worldwide, and maintains editions in English, Chinese, nine other languages in print, and 21 on the internet.
- 1 History
- 2 Distribution
- 3 Coverage and focus
- 4 Political stance
- 5 Nine commentaries on the Communist Party
- 6 Organ harvesting
- 7 Awards and achievements
- 8 Assessments
- 9 See also
- 10 Footnotes
- 11 External links
The Epoch Times was started in 2000 by John Tang and a group of Chinese Americans who were practitioners of Falun Gong. The founders were responding to censorship inside China and a lack of understanding overseas about Chinese repression of the Falun Gong.
The paper was first published in the Chinese language in New York, but in August 2004, an English language edition of The Epoch Times was launched in New York City, as well as Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, and several other cities. It is also distributed in San Diego, San Francisco, Boston, Dallas, New Jersey, and Chicago and all major Canadian cities, including a French edition in Montreal. The paper has associated media services, including the television station New Tang Dynasty TV and the radio station Sound of Hope.
The newspaper makes frequent reportage of media censorship and the impact the Chinese government has on overseas Chinese media. It has gained significant influence among the Chinese diaspora overseas.
In 2000, 10 Epoch Times correspondents were imprisoned in China, but current staff of the Chinese-language edition work in Hong Kong.
As of February 2012, around the world 67 Epoch Times newspaper editions are published in print. They are available in 21 languages and have a distribution of 1,315,000 copies in 35 different countries. Among the 35 countries, distribution varies between daily, weekly, bi-weekly and monthly.
Yuezhi Zhao, Assistant Professor of Communication at Simon Fraser University, Canada, wrote in 2003 that The Epoch Times website and The Epoch Times group of newspapers had "grown into one of the largest Chinese-language news websites and newspaper groups outside China in the past two years, with local editions in more than thirty U.S. states, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Indonesia, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and major Western European countries."
In addition to its global distribution of multilingual print editions, The Epoch Times is also available in 21 additional languages on the internet. With a total online presence of 21 websites, The Epoch Times receives a combined 40,425,000-page views per/month, 6,123,000 visits per/month and out of those monthly visits 3,952,000 are unique visitors.
Distribution launch date and summary
|English||The English language edition of The Epoch Times was started in September 2003 as a website, and it went to print in New York in August 2004. It is now published in the United States, Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, Ireland, New Zealand, Singapore and Malaysia.|
|Chinese||The oldest of The Epoch Times editions, the Chinese paper has been in operation from August 2000, when it was launched as both a website and in a print edition in New York. The Chinese Epoch Times (Dajiyuan) is now the single largest Chinese language newspaper in the world, covering 35 countries across North and South America, Europe, Australia and Asia.|
|French||The French edition of The Epoch Times was launched as a website in January 2005, and went into print shortly after. La Grande Époque can now be found in France, Canada (Montreal, Quebec province) and Switzerland.|
|Spanish||The Spanish website of La Gran Epoca was launched in early 2005. Circulation of the print edition began in Argentina one week before the website went live.|
|German||The German website of Epoch Times Deutschland was launched in late 2004, around the time that the French edition was launched. It is now printed in Germany and a few neighboring countries as Die Neue Epoche.|
|Russian||The Russian language edition of The Epoch Times was started in December 2004 as a website, and later it went to print in St. Petersburg. The Russian newspaper is now distributed all over Russia.|
|Ukrainian||The Ukrainian website of Велика Епоха (or The Epoch Times) was launched in May 2005. In March 2006, the Russian edition (www.EpochTimes.com.ua/ru/) of the Ukrainian site was launched for the Ukrainians who speak Russian.|
|Bulgarian||The Bulgarian edition of The Epoch Times started operation in mid-February 2005. It started with a Bulgarian version of the "Nine Commentaries".|
|Hebrew||The Hebrew edition of The Epoch Times started operation in December 2005.|
|Slovak||The Slovak edition of The Epoch Times started operation on March 1, 2006.|
|Czech||The Czech edition of The Epoch Times started operation on October 6, 2006.|
|Turkish||The Turkish edition of The Epoch Times started operation on June 9, 2011.|
|Portuguese||The Portuguese edition of The Epoch Times started operation on April 18, 2012. The core team is based in Brazil, with a satellite office in Portugal.|
|Italian||The Italian language edition website of The Epoch Times was launched in December 2012.|
|Persian||The Persian edition of The Epoch Times was officially launched on Jan. 12, 2013. This edition serves those speaking Persian in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, as well as in other parts of the globe.|
Web only editions
Coverage and focus
New York edition
The Epoch Times ' flagship New York edition is typically around 50 pages, divided into four sections. The "A" Section is primarily devoted to current events, covering local news about New York and area, Nation and World pages, as well as several pages devoted to China issues and politics. In addition to hard news pages, the A section also includes Opinion pages, Sports, Science & Technology, Business and Real Estate.
The "B" section features pages primarily devoted to Arts & Culture—covering classical art forms, exhibits and events that occur both globally, and local to the New York area. The B section also includes Style and an "Essence of China" page devoted to traditional Chinese culture, stories, and art forms. The "C" section focuses on health and fitness featuring mainstream medical science and alternative and Chinese medical treatments. The "D" section is the food section focused on cooking and local restaurants.
Other English editions
Outside of New York, other English editions typically take the form of a 16–24-page broadsheet. The content is a somewhat condensed version of the New York edition, but features a focus on each edition's local region. For example, the Canadian edition contains Canadian articles throughout the paper in all sections with a national news section composed entirely of Canadian news and is printed and distributed by Quebecor Media Inc's print division Sun Media Corporation.
According to the newspaper itself, The Chinese Epoch Times (Dajiyuan) is the largest and most widely distributed Chinese language newspaper in the world, covering 35 countries. The print edition ranges from 30–80 pages depending on geographical region. The typical print edition includes sections on local & national news, China, world, health, science, autos, real estate, arts & culture, style, home, food, dining and special sections covering traditional Chinese culture & values.
During the 2009 New York City Comptroller elections, the Epoch Times alleged that Taiwan-born Democratic nominee John Liu is part of a "United Front" by the Chinese Communist Party to infiltrate the United States and subvert its government, democracy, and human rights in general. The newspaper alleged that "the CCP works tenaciously and systematically to place its people [...] in key positions in corporations, academia, and government in the United States and other countries." The Epoch Times also published an 8-page "special edition", and also featured on its website a section focused on coverage of Liu's reported ties with CCP officials.
During Hu Jintao's visit to Canada in June 2010, the Toronto Star noted that the Epoch Times had published several "hard-hitting" critical stories on Hu's visit, such as allegations of the local Chinese embassy's orchestration of welcome parades, as well as an alleged recording of a speech by the first secretary of education Liu Shaohua, in which Liu stated that embassy would provide accommodation and transport for over 3,000 participants in the welcome parade.
Canadian media reported that the parliamentary press office made deliberate arrangements in relation to Hu's public appearances limiting the Epoch Times ' access to the Chinese President, even though the newspaper is an accredited member of the Canadian Parliamentary Press Gallery, with all the same access rights as other media outlets. The paper also carried an exclusive interview with outspoken Canadian Member of Parliament Rob Anders, wherein Anders alleged that the Chinese government used gifts and business deals in attempts to influence Canadian political decisions.
The Epoch Times originally targeted Chinese readers living abroad and reported on various abuses and inner workings of the Communist Party of China (CCP). The paper's reports on China are highly critical of the PRC government, particularly in its tone and commentaries towards the Communist Party. The paper gives significant attention to Falun Gong's campaigns, particularly their attempt to sue former Chinese President Jiang Zemin under civil legislation for genocide, which many mainstream publications have not covered. As reported by the paper itself, Chinese journalists relayed stories overseas of alleged human rights abuses, infringements on civil liberties and corruption in the CCP, among others. In 2005, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that "three new U.S-based, Chinese-language media outlets that provide provocative reporting about the Communist Party, government oppression and social unrest in China [namely the Epoch Times, Sound of Hope, and NTDTV] have ties to the Falun Gong spiritual movement." When interviewed, executives at each outlet said they did not represent the Falun Gong movement as a whole.
The paper also counters what it considers to be CCP propaganda through its own opinion pieces. The paper is vocal in supporting dissidents, pro-independence Taiwanese, and other traditional opponents of the CCP. According to Ming Xia, political science professor at the College of Staten Island, The Epoch Times represents part of Falun Gong's effort to expand to non-practitioners, and "is part of the Falun Gong strategy to embed itself into the large civil society for influence and legitimacy."
Typically a 16-page broadsheet, the Epoch Times also runs mainstream newswire stories and in some places can resemble a community newspaper. Some local versions take the form of a free weekly newspaper drawing on content from the Epoch Times website, and are distributed worldwide. Zhao said: "While mainstream newspaper typically treat Web versions as an extension of the already-existing print version, the Epoch Times website serves as the master for all its worldwide papers."
The paper covers general interest issues with a focus on China news and human rights. The newspaper is heavily critical of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the policies of Chinese government. In 2004, the newspaper published the "Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party", an in-depth critique of China's ruling regime. The newspaper covers causes and groups opposed to the CCP, including Falun Gong, dissidents, activists, and supporters of the Tibetan government-in-exile. The Epoch Times website also hosts a "CCP Renunciations" service, encouraging Chinese to quit the CCP and related organizations. The PRC government blocks mainland Chinese from accessing the Epoch Times website.
The paper staffs reporters locally based in offices in each country where an edition is printed. In New York they are a common presence at public events, and around the world they cover stories that pertain to their own areas, contributing to a pool of articles for the different editions to share. David Ownby, director of the Center for East Asian Studies at the Université de Montréal and the author of Falun Gong and the Future of China, wrote that the newspaper's articles are "well written and interesting, if occasionally idiosyncratic in their coverage."
"The Epoch Times is a newspaper with a mission," Ownby says, which includes "reporting on issues bearing on human rights throughout the world, which allows for considerable focus on China and Falun Gong."
Nine commentaries on the Communist Party
Since November 2004, the Chinese version of The Epoch Times have published and heavily promoted a series of editorials and a booklet entitled "Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party" (traditional Chinese: 九評共產黨; simplified Chinese: 九评共产党). The editorials purport to give an alternate exposé of the CCP through its history, from its ascent to power under Mao Zedong to its present-day form, as well as a condemnation of communism in all of its forms. In it the CCP was criticized as an illegitimate institution who employed underhanded tactics to gain power. The commentaries allege that the CCP "destroyed traditional Chinese culture" and goes so far as to brand the CCP an "evil cult". According to Ownby, the Commentaries are a condemnation of Communism and direct indictment on the legitimacy of the Chinese Communist Party in ruling China. While acknowledging the "unnecessary violence" the Chinese Communist Party have inflicted, as a professional historian Ownby finds that the lack of balance and nuance in tone and style makes the editorial resemble "anti-Communist propaganda written in Taiwan in the 1950s."
The Nine Commentaries won the "Asian American Issues – Online" category of the AAJA National Awards at the 2005 Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) convention held in August 2005. The "Commentaries" were subsequently translated into more than 30 other languages.
Throughout March 2006, the newspaper published a series of articles containing allegations by a number of anonymous individuals claiming to be eyewitnesses to organ harvesting in Sujiatun Hospital and beyond. The claims were criticized by dissident Harry Wu, who said they lacked sufficient documentary support or detailed information.
One of the newspaper's reporters working on the organ harvesting story, Wang Wenyi, who practices Falun Gong, yelled at Chinese President Hu Jintao over recent allegations of organ harvesting from Falun Gong practitioners in China after using her Epoch Times press pass to gain access to a White House lawn press briefing. The Epoch Times was criticized for the incident; Dr. Liu Kang, professor of Chinese Cultural Studies at Duke University, thought the incident damaged its credibility and contributed to the impression that the paper is "not viewed as an independent objective news media" in the overseas Chinese community. The paper apologized to the U.S. President, while suggesting the incident didn't damage its credibility, and denying any direct ties to or funding from Falun Gong.
A New America Media report cited the newspaper's withholding of names in transcripts of telephone conversations between sources in Chinese hospitals and a researcher, which were used to support allegations of organ harvesting, as not adhering to journalistic standards of professionalism and objectivity. Cindy Gu, communications director for The Epoch Times, said that the newspaper needed to protect the identity of their sources.
Awards and achievements
The Epoch Times global media company has been the recipient of several awards:
- 2005 National Ethnic Press & Media Council Award – The Epoch Times was given this annual award for being "a strong defender for human rights and democratic values." The paper was also acknowledged for being the first to report on the coverup of the SARS virus by Chinese authorities in China.
- 2005 Asian American Journalists Association National Award – The Epoch Times was awarded for "excellence in coverage of Asian American Issues" for its editorial series, Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party. According to the newspaper itself, The "Nine Commentaries" prompted millions of Chinese people to quit the Communist Party because it provided "the first in-depth look at the true nature and history of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)."
- 2005 International Society for Human Rights Award – In May 2005, Die Neue Epoche, the German-language edition of The Epoch Times, received a special media prize from the International Society for Human Rights (IGFM) for "extensive and regular reporting about violations of human rights in China."
- 2012 Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal – The Epoch Times was awarded this commemorative medal, which honours "significant contributions and achievements by Canadians." Canadian publisher Cindy Gu was nominated for the medal by the Canadian Centre for Abuse Awareness (CCAA) for raising awareness of human rights abuses in China and the organ harvesting of Falun Gong practitioners.
- 2012 National Ethnic Press and Media Council Award – The Chinese edition of The Epoch Times was given this annual award for, "Excellence in editorial/free expression, best concept and visual presentation."
- 2012 New York Press Association Award – The Epoch Times won first place in the category "Best Special Section—Advertising, Division 2" for a special section produced for Asia Week New York in March 2012. "A great special section has five strong components: a great cover, appealing design, good art, strong content, and well designed complimentary advertising. This section has all five," said the NYPA judges. "In all, this is one of the nicest sections I have ever seen produced by a newspaper."
- 2013 Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi award – The Epoch Times China reporter Matthew Robertson won this award in the category of Non-Deadline Reporting for a series of articles he wrote on forced, live organ harvesting in China.
- 2013 Newswomen's Club Award – The Epoch Times New York reporter Genevieve Belmaker won the Front Page Award from the Newswomen's Club of New York for reporting about the impact of Hurricane Sandy, in the category of newspapers with a circulation of less than 100,000 per day.
- 2013 Top Minority Business Enterprise Awards – The Epoch Times Chinese edition CEO in the Washington region, Jenny Jing, won the TOP MBE Awards' "Business Legends" award on October 30, 2013.
The Epoch Times has had mixed reactions since its emergence. According to David Ownby, it has been praised and also been criticized for a perceived bias against the CCP, and support of Falun Gong practitioners and other dissidents such as Tibetans, Taiwanese independence advocates, democracy activists, Uyghurs and others. The paper, therefore, is often assessed in light of its connection to Falun Gong, rather than a thorough analysis of its editorial content.
James Bettinger, a professor of Communications at Stanford University and the director of the John S. Knight Journalism Fellowships, said "Even if the Epoch Times is not associated with Falun Gong, if they consistently write about Falun Gong in the same perspective, or if there are no articles examining Falun Gong, people would perceive it as being not credible." Orville Schell, dean of the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, said in 2005 that "It's hard to vouch for their quality because it's difficult to corroborate, but it's not something to be dismissed as pure propaganda."
Jiao Guobiao, a former Beijing University journalism professor who was dismissed after criticizing the Central Propaganda Department, proposed that even if The Epoch Times published only negative information highly critical of the CCP, the weight of their attacks could never begin to counterbalance the positive propaganda the party publishes about itself. In addressing media balance, Jiao noted that the Chinese public lacked negative, critical information regarding their country. As such, he noted for a need of media balance based on the principles of freedom, equality, and legality, and that media balance "is the result of the collective imbalances of all".
The paper's stance has also been lauded by some political commentators and media experts. Author and investigative reporter Ethan Gutman has characterized The Epoch Times as a leader in political analysis of the Chinese regime, saying "With the "Chinese Regime in Crisis" series, the Epoch Times has finally and indisputably arrived. Any China expert who wants to save face by pretending the paper doesn't exist can continue to do so—for a little while anyway—but they had better be reading it in secret."
In 2010, The Epoch Times successfully defended its reporting in the Canadian court system, when a publisher they had reported on, Crescent Chau, sued for libel. The justice in charge of the case ruled that the paper had acted in the public interest, and that the particular article expressed "legitimate concerns and constitute an opinion which is drawn from a factual premise". In examining the case, John Gordon Miller, a Canadian journalist and media professor, noted that the articles of the paper "appear to be thoroughly and professionally reported, which isn't always the case in the often under-resourced ethnocultural press." Miller viewed the court victory as significant step in repairing its credibility, previously damaged by the Wang Wenyi incident. "In the Quebec case, the paper's reporting stood up to the court's scrutiny," Miller wrote.
The Epoch Times has also been congratulated by several politicians, particularly in Canada, for the impact the paper's content has had in Chinese communities in which it circulates.
Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada said: "Since its launch in Canada in 2000, the Epoch Times has become a popular source of information on issues and events of interest to the Chinese-Canadian community... With local editions published in Toronto, Vancouver, Montréal, Ottawa and Calgary/Edmonton, the Epoch Times is today the largest daily newspaper of its kind in the country…"
"Bold, encouraging, thoughtful, the Epoch Times has become one of Canada's premier publications. For ten years now, the award-winning newspaper has been building bridges between communities and covering the stories that are shaping our world ..." said Peter Kent, Federal Minister of the Environment, former journalist, producer, anchorman for CBC, CTV, Global TV, and NBC.
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- Official website (English)