Alibaba wants to expand its horizons, as according to The New York Times, Jack Ma, the founder and chief executive of the Chinese giant is looking forward to buying the influential English-language newspaper The South China Morning Post, based in Hong Kong.
Keeping up with Amazon?
Of course, after the news emerged, everybody compared the move with the acquirement of The Washington Post by Amazon, back in 2013. The deal gave the retailer a huge media backing, during a harsh period for the business. Could this be a sign that Alibaba is also expecting some image issues?
Well, no. Just like The Washington Post, The South China Morning Post is trying to adapt to the new media environment, so the deal won’t affect Alibaba in any way or bring any advantages.
The above-mentioned source claims that it still unknown if Mr. Jack Ma itself will buy the newspaper or Alibaba will be the actual buyer. Still, this deal will also have, in some way or another, a political dimension.
Readers are afraid that Alibaba will ignore the freedom of press
To be more specific, if Alibaba will takeover the news papers, there are concerns regarding The South China Morning Post‘s editorial independence. Multiple sources claim that a corporate owner, whose business depends on the good will of the Chinese government, won’t be able to guarantee the freedom of press, as most Hong Kong-based newspapers do.
“Mr. Jack Ma needs support from Beijing to continue his dominance of the Internet transactional world, and therefore he’s going to be careful in what he does in the publishing world,” said Andrew Collier, former The South China Morning Post reporter, currently owning a research firm focused on China and based in Hong Kong.
Alibaba declined to comment when asked about the takeover of the newspaper.