ChinaSMACK hits Indo

What started out as a way to practice English has become a budding media empire for the strange world of Fauna Shan and her website chinaSMACK.

The site, which launched four years ago, has provided a rare glimpse into Chinese internet forums and the opinions of ordinary citizens to local and world events.

Earlier this year the chinaSMACK team expanded its brand of blogging to Korea and, this week expanded to Indonesia with a new site indoBOOM.

Similar to chinaSMACK, indoBOOM will be updated daily with reactions to local events like the return of a popular singer who spent the past three years in jail for appearing in a sex tape and widespread rumours about Foxconn opening a factory in Indonesia.

Kai Pan, who heads up expansion for the site, said like koreaBANG, indoBOOM started after a reader approached them with the idea of expanding.

And while he says Indonesia may not be as internationally influential as China or Korea, Southeast Asia region is becoming increasingly relevant.

“Ultimately have to decide if we think the expansion holds promise and, more importantly, if the person who wants to start it has the potential to consistently produce content that matches our editorial mission and quality standards,” Pan said.

“No one can predict the future but we feel there’s a lot of potential for Indonesia.”

In addition to their expansion, the site now carries some advertising, which founder Fauna Shan said helps to cover costs, investments, and “some treats for our bloggers.”

“With more traffic, there is more advertising income but maybe because we do not actively try to sell advertising, we do not actually make much money for this,” she said.

Despite reporting on often sensitive issues in China from police corruption, social unrest and disturbing videos of school yard beatings, they are yet to face the wrath of Chinese internet censors.

“Fortunately, so far we have not had any trouble with authorities,” Shan said.

“We try to only report what is already widespread and popular on the Chinese internet. I think this helps us avoid trouble but it is always risky.

“We just read the news and watch social media and feel some things about China or our countries do not receive as much attention from the traditional media.”

And Pan suggested further expansion was on the cards.

“We’re hoping to make one more announcement later this year but who knows.”

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