One of the biggest stories this weekend was that the Bloomberg had allegedly been holding back controversial stories about China for fear of angering a huge business market.
While the New York Times took the story mainstream, it was actually broken by Taiwan’s Next Media Animation, which first published the video on TomoNews, its official news site.
What’s really strange about this is that NMA is not exactly a traditional media organisation — rather it is a subsidiary of Next Media, a Hong Kong media conglomerate, that creates simple CGI-animated coverage of recent news stories with a humorous twist. Since a video about Tiger Woods went viral, the organisation has been famous around the world as the “Taiwanese Animators.”
For example, here’s the most popular video on their YouTube channel, a review of Miley Cyrus’ VMA performance. It has been viewed almost one million times.
Business Insider reached out to NMA to ask a few questions about how they started breaking news. Michael Logan, director of content and business development for NMA’s International division, was kind enough to respond:
Business Insider: Is this the first time NMA has broken news with an animation?
Michael Logan: This is the first time we’ve broken news using our satirical format. In Hong Kong and Taiwan, we have a large news reporting organisation via the Apple Daily and Next Magazine, so they use animation to break news all the time. And this story was reported from Hong Kong. But for the most part, for our international audience (the US and Japan) we’re doing satire and so we typically follow the news cycle … not lead it. So yes, this is the first time we’ve used satire to break a story.
BI: Do you plan to do it more often?
ML: We would do more breaking news if the opportunity presents itself. We have reporters on the ground in Taiwan and Hong Kong, so if there is a story that is of international importance I can definitely see us breaking that.
Outside of Taiwan and Hong Kong, we concentrate on the US and Japan, but we don’t have reporting organisations set up there. We do visual news and we pay up to $US2,000 for exclusive UGC video in the US and Japan. So with that, there might be an opportunity to come across something that is potentially breaking.
BI: Why choose to break the news with an animated video, rather than a more traditional medium?
ML: Our print medium is Chinese and circulated in Taiwan and Hong Kong. Few people outside of Hong Kong or Taiwan would see it.
On the other hand, our satirical animations (even though in Chinese) circulate widely in the English-speaking world … so doing a satirical animation was the best opportunity to get this particular story out to the right audience.
BI: Were you in contact with the New York Times reporter Edward Wong before he wrote his story on the subject?
ML: We weren’t in touch and we didn’t coordinate. After we published our animation, we pushed it out to various media and it was up to them to follow up. Edward Wong did his own reporting, which corroborated what we had and also brought forward some details we didn’t animate.
BI: Were you upset that the Times’ story got a lot more attention (and, I believe, credit) when NMA had the story first?
Ml: Not at all upset. We’re part of a digital ecosystem … and there was acknowledgment from the NYT, the Business Insider and others of our work.
We operate in the shadow of China, so we don’t take our freedom of press for granted. It doesn’t matter who gets credit, so as long as the story gets told.
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