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

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Religion Aside, Christmas Gains Popularity in Communist Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid