The June 2009 Blogger in the Spotlight is Jeremy Goldkorn of Danwei.

Blogger in the Spotlight is a monthly series where Newstex turns the spotlight on our publishers with in-depth interviews that give you a glimpse into the stories, tips and secrets of successful bloggers and content producers.

This month’s interview is with Jeremy Goldkorn who is the founder, editor-in-chief and publisher of Danwei, a blog about media, advertising and urban life in China, where he has lived since 1995.

goldkorn_2_smallNewstex: How did you get started writing your current blog?

Jeremy Goldkorn: Danwei is about Chinese media and Internet — industries that I have been working in for more than a decade.

I caught the blogging bug during the SARS panic in China of 2003 when I  noticed that a few blogs were more comprehensive sources of information than the WHO, the Chinese government and media reports about the disease. Soon after the end of the SARS panic, I had figured out how to set up a blog and launched Danwei, initially as a one man show.

Danwei has always been primarily about observing changes in the Chinese media and Internet, and translating noteworthy articles and blog posts by Chinese writers. There are now four of use who work on the site.

Newstex: What makes your blog unique?

Jeremey Goldkorn: We have a mixture of content ranging from daily summaries of important stories in Chinese newspapers to tracking Internet censorship and following the changes in China’s media in terms of business, government regulation and content, political and cultural. We do a lot of translation from Chinese media and Internet writings and use Chinese language and Mainland sources very heavily in our research.

Although we do comment on certain issues, Danwei has never been an opinion blog: the emphasis is always on high quality information. We also produce our own video shows which attract a different group of people from our articles and blog posts.

Essentially, if you follow Danwei, you will stay on top of developments in the Chinese media and Internet, and that is what draws most of our readers.

Newstex: To what do you attribute your blog’s success?

Jeremy Goldkorn: Persistance, good writing, and focusing on specialized content area that big media companies are not well positioned to produce.

Newstex: What are the top 3 tips you can give to bloggers looking to develop successful blogs?

Jeremy Goldkorn:

  1. Choose a subject area where you have real expertise, or enough passion to educate yourself into an expert.
  2. Do original writing and research, not just commentary on what other bloggers or the media publish.
  3. Your personal life is not interesting. 

Newstex: What is the best thing that has happened to you as a result of your work on your blog?

Jeremy Goldkorn: Well-paid speaking gigs and research work for the team behind Danwei.

Newstex: What inspires you to keep blogging?

Jeremy Goldkorn: China’s media environment is constantly changing, and it’s fascinating to follow it on a daily basis. We also make money.

Newstex: What are your favorite blogs and why?

Jeremy Goldkorn: Zonaeuropa.com, a blog that covers a similar range of subjects to Danwei.

Newstex: What effects do you think blogging will have on traditional media?  How about on your industry?

Jeremy Goldkorn: Blogging is one part of the inevitable fragmentation of the media and the media business that we are going through. I believe the media business is going to get less profitable for big media groups, but that technologies like blogging are enabling individuals and small companies to enter the media business and succeed where previously lack of capital or access to distribution networks made the barrier to entry too high for small players.

Newstex: At what point did you decide to syndicate your blog with Newstex and why?

Jeremy Goldkorn: I decided after Newstex approached me.

Newstex: What do you think are the benefits of syndicating your blog through Newstex?

Jeremy Goldkorn: Cash and a wider readership of our content.

Newstex: What’s next for you and your blog?

Jeremy Goldkorn: More video content is our next priority. After that we are looking at starting a sister site, possibly about another country or region where the media is in flux.