Opening Doors in the Chinese Community

The first thing Zhen Li decided to do after settling down in his rented apartment on the first day he landed in Canada was to grab a local newspaper.

“I’m pretty disoriented to basically everything,” says the 31-year-old former IT consultant from China, noting that finding the supermarket, shopping malls, and the most important of all, a nearby post office, became head-scratching assignments.

You probably will face the same challenges when you become a fresh new immigrant to Canada. The good news is that here in the Chinese community, there are three daily newspapers, more than 20 weekly free pick-up newspapers and Chinese language magazines that are ready to provide information for you.

As a Mandarin speaking person, Li felt blessed when he first saw Sing Tao Daily newspaper featuring a lot of news from Mainland China.

“News from my home country is not the only resource I’m looking for. Instead, a lot of advertising becomes what I heavily rely on everyday,” says Li, adding that supermarket discount information, house/ rent advertising and job postings are top priorities when he opens the newspaper.

Founded in 1978, Sing Tao Daily is the biggest Chinese newspaper in Canada. According to the Ipsos Reid 2007 Canadian Chinese Media Monitor report, 52 per cent of Chinese-Canadians choose to read Chinese newspapers or magazines exclusively. Sing Tao Daily has the highest reach of 51 percent among both recent immigrants and those who have been settled for less than ten years, the report says.

The stories Li’s been reading everyday in the newspaper not only help him learn about the community, but also learn it smartly. “I remember reading a story about a motorist being ticketed although he carefully passed a police cruiser pulling over on a wide right lane linked by ramp on Highway 401,” Li says.

“My common sense after seeing a stopped enforcement car on the highway would be the same. The last thing I would have thought about is stopping in the middle of the highway,” he adds.

“However, after reading the story I realized that by Highway Traffic Act, a motorist should drive away from the lane that is adjacent to the enforcement vehicle, so to keep the officer who might step out of the car from being hit,” says Li.

Jennifer Yang, an immigrant for two years, discovered something magical while reading the newspaper. She found a story about a long-lost high school friend in the community news.

“This is something unbelievable! I read a piece of news and eventually found out the person and her name is the one I knew from school 20 years ago,” says the bubbly Yang, who’s still feeling the excitement.

Yang’s friend is the Chairperson of a clansman association who runs a fundraising dinner and was interviewed by the media. Now, Yang has become a volunteer for the association and works shoulder to shoulder with her old schoolmate in the community.

You can buy Sing Tao Daily newspaper when you go to buy a lottery ticket, fill up gasoline, have dim sum with family or shop at a supermarket in the Chinese community.

Many computer savvy immigrants go paperless by clicking Sing Tao Daily’s website (www.singtao.ca), where you can read real time news as it happens.

Ming Pao

Ming PaoNewspaper is considered the second largest Chinese newspaper in the Greater Toronto Area. It mainly focuses on Hong Kong news and serves Cantonese readers. The website for its Toronto publication is www.mingpaotor.com.

Founded by the legendary novelist Dr. Louis Cha in Hong Kong half a century ago, Ming Pao stretched out to Toronto in 1993.

According to Foundation Research’s 2006 Toronto Chinese Media Survey for Ming Pao, 48 percent of its readers are immigrants from Hong Kong. 78 percent of readers have their own dwelling and they are more affluent and have higher spending power.

The supplements and magazines that come with the newspaper are eye-catching and are popular with many housewives. The “gourmet” supplement published on Wednesdays introduces food recipes and healthy cooking. “Property Gold Pages” on Thursdays guide people who want to know about the real estate market.

“Exploring China” on Fridays provides in-depth coverage and analysis of politics, economic, cultural and society trends. “Saturday Magazine” features articles about living in Toronto and local interests. On Sunday, you will probably see many Chinese people reading Ming Pao’s “Entertainment Magazine” while waiting for hair stylists, family doctors or to be called for seats in restaurants.

New Star Times

This free pick-up weekly magazine founded in 2001 serves Mandarin-speaking new immigrants. Published every Friday, New Star Times is so popular that it can be hard to find an available copy even that same night.

Many contributors to the magazine may not be professional journalists or writers. However, the storytelling style about all aspects of immigrant life has brought them a large readership of those who share the hardships of establishing a new life in Canada.

With the steady increase of immigrants from Mainland China, stories happening in the Mandarin community have come to drastically outnumber stories from the traditional Cantonese community. New Star Times, with many connections in the community, has reported a lot of breaking news exclusively that’s drawn the attention of the mainstream media such as CBC and the Toronto Star.

The comprehensive investigation of the abduction and murder of 9-year-old girl Cecilia Zhang and the thorough coverage of 2008 Sichuan earthquake and relief work have been among the many excellent pieces that make the magazine a trusted source of news.

The magazine can be picked up at many Chinese supermarkets in the GTA, or by going online at www.newstarweekly.com.

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