News / Asia

China’s Media 'Reforms' Focus on Tightening Control

A man looks over near the front page of a Chinese newspaper showing a photo of the typhoon damage in the Philippines and the white characters on blue which reads "U.S. and Europe hype up Chinese aid to Philippines as 'Not Generous'", at a newsstand in Beijing, Nov. 14, 2013.
A man looks over near the front page of a Chinese newspaper showing a photo of the typhoon damage in the Philippines and the white characters on blue which reads "U.S. and Europe hype up Chinese aid to Philippines as 'Not Generous'", at a newsstand in Beijing, Nov. 14, 2013.
William Ide
— China has unveiled some big reforms for the economy and outlined plans to gradually ease long-criticized social policies in its recently released Communist Party report on reform. But, the changes the party has in mind for the country’s media suggest China has no plans of loosening its grip on journalists or ending the country’s tight control of information anytime soon.
 
Only a small portion of China’s new report on reform was dedicated to issues related to the media. In it, the party talks about the need to perfect its systems for guiding public opinion and the handling of sudden online breaking incidents.
 
The report also talks about the importance of "watchdog journalism" and the role it plays in weeding out corrupt government officials.
 
Doug Young is an associate professor of journalism at Shanghai’s Fudan University and author of the Party Line: How the Media Dictates Public Opinion in Modern China. He said the goals outlined in the reform report highlight the party’s ongoing effort and desire to "get their hands" around social media.
 
“It’s sort of a two-pronged thing,” Young said. “They want to control it, but they want to let it be an effective tool for uncovering corruption and government mismanagement.”
 
The report also talks about the need to not only promote the integration and development of traditional and new media, but to exert more control over new media as well.

Government still in charge
 
Li Datong, a former journalist who was fired from a state media organization for his views says he sees nothing new in the plans.
 
“The party keeps the power on the media through editors, editors are the ones in charge of information control,” Li said. “Now it might be more difficult to completely cover up news, but in fact it is still easy for government departments to cover up their own information.”

Li says what is needed is more government openness about its affairs. On that front, there may be some hope for progress. According to the report, state-owned enterprises will be required to be more open in reporting of their budgets and finances. Government departments are also ordered to be more open in their affairs.

Chang Ping, a well-known Chinese journalist and commentator said that under the current system there is no possibility of the media being independent.
 
“The media has to be independent from the party and its political power,” Chang said. “This is something that many people in the media are fighting for, for their own space. But the party keeps opposing such views and strangling opportunities.”

Watchdog journalist
 
One individual who is doing just that, fighting for more space, is investigative journalist Luo Changping. Luo, the deputy editor-in-chief for China’s Caijing Magazine, has exposed several cases of official graft, including the country’s former energy chief Liu Tienan.
 
In an interview this week with China’s Southern Weekly newspaper, Luo says that in addition to the challenges brought on by new media, journalists in China are facing a tightening political environment, and the temptation to publish false stories for money.
 
But Luo is optimistic that despite the challenges, China’s media will continue to become more professional. He also told the newspaper that his "China Dream" is that everyone be allowed more freedom of expression.

Credibility crisis
 
In recent months, China’s media have been facing a credibility crisis following the problematic case of journalist Chen Yongzhou. Chen was detained over a series of critical reports he wrote about a state-owned company. And before he even went to trial, Chen confessed on state-run television that he had accepted bribes for making up stories about the company.
 
Some have argued that China’s journalists need more ethics training and that the case highlights a need for tighter scrutiny of the editing process. But others were not that convinced.
 
Li Datong said it is difficult to even believe the case is true.

“The police arrests him and then on CCTV you tell what crimes, no evidence, no legal base. This is all a farce,” Li said. “But I also have to say that this type of degeneration in media are many, extortion happens, sometimes is the media organization sometimes it is the journalist.”
 
Chang Ping said the problem really traces back to journalists' lack of independence.
 
“They are used by companies as well as by the government. It is very difficult to have corruption cases within the propaganda department, this is because they are the organ of censorship, so this corruption is not revealed. Our society is corrupt, and the fact that there is corruption in the media just highlights the severity of the problem.”
 
Even so, China announced plans recently that it would train some 250,000 journalists on issues such as ethics and the Marxist view on journalism as well as how to prevent rumor spreading. At the end of the course journalists will be given a test before they can renew their work credentials.

You May Like

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnelsi
X
July 24, 2014 4:42 AM
The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video MH17's 'Black Boxes' Could Reveal Crash Details

The government of Malaysia now has custody of the cockpit voice and flight data recorders from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which was hit by a missile over Ukraine before crashing last week. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports, the so-called black boxes may hold information about the final minutes of the flight.
Video

Video Living in the Shadows Panel Discussion

Following a screening of the new VOA documentary, "AIDS - Living in the Shadows," at the World AIDS conference in Melbourne, a panel discussed the film and how to combat the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid