Emotional appeal

Updated: 2013-01-29 09:09

By Wang Ru (China Daily)

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Emotional appeal

A woman carries a copy of Zhiyin Magazine in Nanjing, Jiangsu province. The magazine is popular although sometimes criticized for producing sensational stories. CFP

Emotional appeal

A magazine which thrives on touching true stories has remained on top of the rating charts for decades. Wang Ru flips through the pages to tell you more.

Zhiyin Magazine has proven that stories that speak to the heart sell.

The publication has a whopping monthly circulation of 6.8 million. Launched in 1985 in Wuhan, capital of Hubei province, it has been stereotyped as a magazine targeting lonely and undereducated housewives and older men in small towns.

It has been criticized for its excessively sensational and tear-jerking stories and gossip about celebrities, mostly written in a first-person style.

Its popularity has even created a popular online cultural phenomenon called "Zhiyin Style" for its exaggerated reports.

But some observers credit the semimonthly magazine for its portrayal of how Chinese people, living through a dramatically changing society over the past 30 years, have been pursuing true love and meaning of life.

Hu Xunbi, editor in chief and also the founding father of Zhiyin, is now leading a publication fleet, which includes nine magazines, two newspapers and a website. The most competitive products are Zhiyin and Comic Guests, the best-selling comic magazine in China.

Hu began his journalism career in 1976 as a reporter for a magazine published by the Hubei Women's Federation in Wuhan, covering stories in the rural areas of Hubei province.

From his assignments, he discovered a spiritual emptiness among the people. Among his interviewees, there was a young man who started a religion and a teenage girl who became a nun.

"There were too many people seeking meaning in life and inevitably, some got lost," says Hu.

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