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.
    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

    Turkey, West in Standoff Over Syrian Refugees

    Turkish government refuses to admit refugees, the first in a wave of civilians fleeing offensive by Assad regime in northern Aleppo countryside

    Jailed American Testifies About Islamist Involvement in Mumbai Attacks

    David Headley testifies via video link that Pakistan-based Islamic terror group made two failed attempts to mount strikes in Mumbai in months prior to coordinated assault

    These Are the 10 Smartest US States

    A new report breaks down the nation's best and brightest

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.