If you're looking for some positive news coverage in China, open your wallet. Chinese media outlets routinely sell coverage, charging thousands of dollars for flattering interviews, puff pieces, or even quick shots of a CEO in a crowd, the New York Times reports. Officially, the practice is illegal in China, and may violate US laws. Unofficially, it's so widespread that many outlets explicitly have rate cards. A profile in China's version of Esquire, for instance, runs about $20,000 a page.
"If one of my companies came up with a cure for cancer, I still couldn't get any journalist to come to the press conference without promising them a huge envelope filled with cash," says one Shanghai entrepreneur. US companies wouldn't say if they'd ever bought coverage; doing so might violate the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which prohibits payments to foreign officials. "Journalists are considered government officials," one lawyer explained, "because generally all the press is government-controlled in China."