China, for as much as we continue to learn about it — its future leaders, how it makes the gadgets we depend on, its human rights issues — remains an enigma for most Americans. What media coverage there is tends, as much journalism does, to focus on the official channels — government moves, economic shifts, and the like.
But what about day-to-day China, a subject difficult for many western news organizations to report on? Tea Leaf Nation is an attempt to get down to a more human level. That’s because the fledgling news site is sourced exclusively from social networks inside the country. Much in the same way online producers, curators, and other editors mine the depths of Twitter and Facebook for story ideas here — and how Global Voices assembles and amplifies citizen media around the world — Tea Leaf Nation’s editors use sites like Sina Weibo, Tencent Weibo, and Tianya to search for what Chinese people are talking about.
Like any good curator, Wertime and his collaborators try to track trends and monitor what notable people are talking about during the day. “There’s all sorts of amazing, unbelievable, and heart-rending stories that come out of China on a daily basis. It’s an endless fount of news,” he said. “We don’t have a particular mechanical approach. We each have our own way of going about it.”
A viral message spread on Sina Weibo, China’s popular micro-blog, encouraged Chinese female web users to observe Wednesday’s Leap Day as is done in the UK. Every four years, on February 29th, a tradition encourages British women to pursue men, in a kind of reversal of gender norms. “This day only comes once every four years,” reads the Weibo-based message, attempting to provoke a viral outbreak of love confessions, “What are you waiting for?”
Best part of the story:
The Sina Weibo Leap Day thread announced that if men refused the advances of Chinese women, the men should offer them a present as consolation.