SCMP will be fair, vows Jack Ma

HONG KONG • Readers deserve a fair chance to understand what is happening in China, said Alibaba founder Jack Ma in an interview with the South China Morning Post (SCMP) English-language daily which he bought last December.

The acquisition raised eyebrows, with some suggesting that the Post - which has for decades been reporting aggressively on China - would change direction and gloss over sensitive or controversial issues that risked incurring the wrath of the Chinese leadership.

In an interview with the paper in Hangzhou, Mr Ma allayed those fears, saying: "I don't see it as an issue of being positive or negative. It is about being impartial and balanced… We should offer a fair chance to readers (to understand what is happening in China), not just a fair chance to China."

He said he valued the importance of drawing his own conclusions based on unbiased information.

"I believe the most important thing for the media is to be objective, fair and balanced. We should not report a story with preconceptions or prejudice," he said.

"Sometimes, people look at things purely from a Western or an Eastern perspective - that is one-sided. What the Post can do is to understand the big 'why' behind a story and its cultural context.

"I want to stress the importance of being fair to our readers. You should not impose your own view and prejudice on the readers and try to lead them to a conclusion."

The tech tycoon said his vision was to transform SCMP into a global media agency with the help of Alibaba's technology and resources.

"With its access to Alibaba's resources, data and all the relationships in our ecosystem, the Post can report on Asia and China more accurately compared with other media who have no such access," he explained.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 22, 2016, with the headline 'SCMP will be fair, vows Jack Ma'. Print Edition | Subscribe