Nashville Business Journal - by Cynthia Yeldell Nashville Business Journal, July 22, 2007.
Two small publications -- and the publishers who drive them -- are making a big impact on the mood, attitudes and events in Middle Tennessee's Chinese community.
Xingkui Guo started the Tennessee Chinese Times -- the state's first Chinese language newspaper - because he noticed a void for local news in the community when he moved to Nashville in 2003 to become a professor of graphic design at Tennessee State University.
And less than six months ago, a group of Chinese businessmen including Nashville insurance company owner and real estate investor John Wang, started a second Chinese-language publication, The Tennessee Chinese News, which circulates statewide.
There's a growing interest in Chinese culture and events from the mainstream community.
China has been in the spotlight locally, because of Tennessee's efforts to gain stronger business ties with the country.
The Nashville-based Tennessee Chinese Chamber of Commerce started recently to help Tennessee-based companies conduct business in China, and help attract China-based businesses to Tennessee.
Gov. Phil Bredesen plans to travel to China in October to open a state economic development office in Beijing. And city officials are working to have Nashville considered as a location for a Chinese Consulate.
The publications have different business structures and objectives, but face the same challenges: trying to stay in the black while delivering information to growing community.
Middle Tennessee's Chinese population is estimated to be 10,000 and growing.
"It was created to be a bridge between Chinese culture and American culture," Guo says of the Tennessee Chinese Times. "To provide information about what happens."
The publication has become a noted voice in the community.
For example, when the Chinese Consulate in Washington, D.C., wanted to voice its opinion on a child custody case involving a Chinese couple in Memphis, Guo's newspaper got a call.
"We got a call from the Chinese Embassy giving their opinion that they wanted to support Chinese families," Guo says adding that the Embassy wanted to tell the community that it supports keeping Chinese families together.
Guo and about 18 volunteers produce the bi-weekly. It's free and has a circulation of about 2,000 and can be found in some Chinese-owned businesses and on the Vanderbilt campus.
About 80 percent of each issue is written in Chinese. The paper translates local news items and coverage of Chinese-related events into both simplified and traditional Chinese. Topics of interest include migration, law, and business.
Guo says his biggest challenge is staying in business. The Chinese Embassy has also contributed "a few thousand" dollars to the non-profit publication to keep it running. Guo says there is enough money to keep printing for the next two years, but he will have to continue to raise money to stay in operation.
The Tennessee Chinese News, on the other hand, is funded by investors and advertising revenue.
Wang, who is the publisher, says his publication is weekly and has a circulation of 10,000. Since it began in February, Wang says, he had received more than 8,000 e-mails from readers.
"We are not simply a translator, we are a full newspaper," Wang says.
Tennessee Chinese News has one full-time staff member and uses freelancers.
Wang says investors put more money into the paper each month, but almost broke even this month.
Dr. Ming Wang (no relation to John Wang), founder the Tennessee Chinese Chamber of Commerce, says the papers share an audience and are a testament to the increasing demand for news.
"It's healthy competition that will increase the quality of both," Ming Wang says.
Neither paper has full English translations, but Guo says his paper is often used by students who are learning Chinese.
| Lessons learned by Xingkui Guo |
TOUGHEST BUSINESS DECISION. We could not decide how many pages of the newspaper we should have. We want the content of newspaper to be diverse but we also wanted to run the newspaper as long as possible with a limited budget.
BEST BUSINESS DECISION. Holding a fund-raising party after the newspaper was running for a year.
GREATEST CHALLENGE. It was hard to get financial support for the newspaper since nobody believed it would last long. Then we tried our best to convince people that we have the passion to continue the newspaper.
GUIDING PRINCIPLE. To serve as a platform for Chinese community in Tennessee.
GREATEST FRUSTRATION? After the newspaper has been running two years, some of the content became routine. It is hard to make changes.
FIVE YEAR VISION? Continue to run the newspaper, add more pages and enlarge the pages.