04/17/2009 05:12 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

China Confidential: FT 's Great New Newspaper Model

Early this month the Financial Times launched China Confidential, a high-end, China-focused news service headed by former China bureau chief, James Kynge.

I recently interviewed Rob Grimshaw, the London-based Managing Director of, who explained in a video interview (below) why people would pay 2,000 pounds per year for the service.

Their self-description:

China Confidential is a premium, subscription newsletter and website from the Financial Times, providing exclusive predictive analysis on China investment themes. Using a dedicated FT team of specialists in China and the UK, it taps Chinese sources from the grassroots to the political elite to forecast key trends and issues. It conducts its own consumer polls and industry surveys to supply all-important primary research. By filtering the work of the best Chinese analysts and academics, it keeps you current on key debates as they unfold inside mainland China.

The principle is great and one I think other newspapers should pursue. By identifying valuable niche markets and zones where information is particularly valuable, there could be many new revenue sources.

China is a good place to start, given the great interest in the country and the difficulties understanding it. Combining the hunger for information on China with a brand name like the Financial Times and one of their China stars, James Kynge, I imagine they will quickly cover their costs.

It will be interesting to see how the project evolves, but I would see great value in going further down the B2B business model, with China Confidential producing white papers, running conferences and even acting as a service connecting experts (along the lines of expert networks like Gerson Lehrman Group).

From comments on an earlier posting I did on China Confidential, an example was given of a UK mobile news website, Mobile Industry Review, that actually withdrew its public service in exchange for a 12,000 pounds per year subscription.

Mainstream newspapers could do worse than look at how online B2B properties have built and leveraged valuable, active and involved communities.