Expats in China devastated by loss of favourite Shanghaiist blog

Published:  3 Nov at 6 PM
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Tagged: China, Money
Expats living in and around China’s massive Shanghai city are heartbroken about the closure by its owners of the Shanghaiist blog.

The popular offbeat social media platform was set up some 12 years ago and is now owned by the Gothamist network, a New York based service reporting street-level expat news across major world cities. It seems the decision to close all the expat sites was taken when reporters and editors at the newsroom opted for unionization.

Gothamist’s CEO Joe Rickets gave a slightly different twist to the mass closure, saying the present-day general business environment was to blame. He added the business was in existence as a profitable enterprise, with closure an option if making money becomes too difficult. The multiple websites account for some 15 million visits by more than nine million users each month. What wasn’t mentioned by the CEO was Shanghaiist’s 200,000 Twitter followers, accounting for another four million views every month and its five million Facebook followers.

A massive outbreak of social media sorrow followed the closure, with the site’s original owner Dan Washburn posting his heartbreak on Twitter. ‘In an instant’, he posted, ‘a huge, important chunk of my life has simply gone, vanished and erased’. ‘And what for?’ he added, ending that he was indeed heartbroken. One former reporter posted she’d always wondered whether one day she’d push her reports too far, resulting in the site being censored or taken down. She added she never expected the closure to come from the United States.

Everyday followers in all the cities covered are equally sad their daily visits to the site are now over for ever, but expats in Shanghai will miss it more than most as it was a window into a sometimes tricky to understand culture and way of life via its news stories. Shanghai’s expat community is sizeable and is expected to grow even more in the future, and losing a vital online resource for what seems like either political or purely monetary reasons is a hard pill to swallow.
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