By: Rosemary Eng
A Chinese immigration boom in Vancouver, B.C., has
spurred unprecedented Chinese-language media growth sp.
A CHINESE IMMIGRATION boom in the Pacific Coast Canadian city of Vancouver, British Columbia, has spurred unprecedented Chinese-language media growth and, to no surprise, a strong demand for Chinese-language journalists.
Clement So, assistant editor in chief at the Hong Kong daily Ming Pao, estimates some 80 Chinese-language journalists are employed at the three Chinese daily newspapers, two Chinese television stations and two predominantly Chinese radio stations serving greater Vancouver.
Competition for experienced reporters has been so keen that salaries have been driven up 20% within the last year, some say.
Chinese-language newspapers here used to serve the small population of old-timers whose children and grandchildren have assimilated into Canadian-English culture. Then in 1983, the Hong Kong daily newspaper Sing Tao opened a bureau in Vancouver’s Chinatown to serve an increasing flow of new Hong Kong immigrants nervously anticipating the 1997 Chinese take-over of the British crown colony.
The western Canada Sing Tao edition carries local news supplemented with satellite-fed Hong Kong stock market quotations and business stories.
By the late 1980s, uneasiness about Chinese rule coupled with a new Canadian policy to grant immigration visas to large sum (Can. $250,000) business investors attracted flocks of wealthy Hong Kongers. Canadian census reports say between 1988 and 1991, the largest number of immigrants to Vancouver were from Hong Kong, bringing the local Chinese immigrant population to 101,960.
Western Canada Sing Tao, which struggled from 1983 to 1986 to get in the black, turned into a profitable venture with burgeoning Hong Kong population eager for news from home. Chief editor Paul Tsang, who heads an editorial staff of about 20, says the broadsheet averages 80 to 100 pages daily. The advertising/editorial ratio is 70/30. Circulation is about 30,000.
The strong market attracted another Hong Kong daily, Ming Pao, which started up last year. The Ming Pao launch was spectacular, with the premier (governor) of British Columbia ringing a ceremonial gong followed by a parade of roast suckling pigs ? lights flashing in the eye sockets ? carried shoulder-high on platters.
In less than a year, Ming Pao has grown to a daily size of 64 broadsheet pages with a 60/40 advertising/editorial ratio and circulation reaching 18,000. The paper has about 30 reporters and editors.
Ming Pao’s in-house presses produce, indisputably, the best four-color reproduction of all Vancouver’s newspapers, including the English-language Vancouver Sun and the Province.
Recently, the new owner of two Vancouver Chinese-language television stations announced a revamp of the stations’ Chinese-language television guide into a monthly glossy to be called, in loose translation, “Popular Lifestyle and Entertainment Magazine.”
Expected this spring, the magazine will serve Chinese TV audiences in Toronto, Edmonton and Calgary as well as in Vancouver and will increase the demand for Chinese journalists. The magazine’s publisher, Thomas Jung, is somewhat of a celebrity in his own right. In a rare interview with the intensely private Jung, Toronto’s Globe and Mail reports he once worked in New York City for Merrill Lynch, in which the Jung family was the largest shareholder.
Compared to a few years ago, the government change-over in Hong Kong has come to be perceived as less threatening and Chinese journalists who sought the security a Canada passport are being attracted back to the booming Hong Kong-China region.
Ming Pao editor So says reporters earning an average Can. $20,000 (U.S. $14,400) a year in Vancouver can command double the wages in Hong Kong and escape high Canadian taxes.
So is considering returning as well because, nearing completion of a doctorate in communications at University of Pennsylvania, he will have the added job option of teaching. There’s no hope of moving into better-paid mainstream media jobs in Vancouver because of current job freezes, he notes.
As the Hong Kong-based Cantonese-language media fight it out for trained staff, editor Mark Tung of the World Journal sees his paper forging ahead. World Journal, affiliated with the United Daily News empire in Taiwan, caters in literary style to Mandarin speakers. (The styles could be compared to American versus British English.) The two-year-old World Journal in Vancouver is the youngest edition of five already established in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Toronto.
Tung is confident World Journal is going to become the Chinese language kingpin with the waves of new Canadian immigration from Taiwan and mainland China where Mandarin is spoken.
?( Eng is a free-lance writer) [Caption]