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

    Wife of IS Leader Charged in Death of US Hostage

    Suspect allegedly admitted to being responsible for American aid worker Kayla Mueller, who officials say was sexually abused and ‘owned’ by one IS member

    Year of the Monkey Could Prove Economic Balancing Act for China

    China is up against a tricky situation on the financial front, facing the need to fight capital flight while also stopping a further slide of foreign currency reserves

    Runners Attempt 26-mile South Pole Marathon in Sub-Zero Temperatures

    How alluring is running 26.2 miles at 10,000 feet when it’s minus 31 Celsius out?

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenyai
    X
    February 08, 2016 4:30 PM
    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video Sanders, Clinton Battle for Young Democratic Vote

    Despite a narrow loss to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in last week's Iowa Democratic caucuses, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders secured more than 80 percent of the vote among those between the ages of 18 and 29. VOA correspondent Aru Pande talks to Democrats in New Hampshire about who they are leaning towards and why in this week's primary.
    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 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 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.