The mediation of the media in China

Jurriaan Bendien bendien at
Wed Nov 19 05:28:40 MST 2003

China's media revolution

By Benjamin Robertson in Beijing

Tuesday 18 November 2003, 20:28 Makka Time, 17:28 GMT

The traditional image of the Chinese media as simply being a government
mouthpiece is fast eroding as pragmatically driven reforms continue to
redefine the structure and output of local media houses. As the country
continues its development at breakneck speed, it would be hard for the media
to simply retain its old image of being a "propagandist and collective
agitator" for the government. Moreover, with China becoming increasingly
sophisticated and open to foreign ideas, the media has had to reflect this
if it wants to maintain its voice and influence within society. "The media
has had no choice but to reform itself," explained leading journalism
professor, Li Xiguang. "It is too costly to maintain in its present form and
it will lose all relevance to people's lives, and then how will the
government exercise control?" Private investment, industry consolidation and
product development have been central to the reforms carried out over the
past decade as the government tried to do something manageable with the
thousands of individual media houses. Introducing market-based competition
has been the lynchpin to this process.  (...) For the government, a
balancing act needs to be maintained between keeping some degree of
censorship control and not alienating the general public by stifling output.
According to Professor Li, the state media is failing. "They refuse to
reform themselves. the press system is just a big bureaucracy full of people
who don't know how to work properly, there are no real journalists and this
is creating a news void." (...) "China needs new fighters for a new
journalism," said Professor Li. With an expanding private sector and a
government apparently keen to promote market competition, Professor Li's
dream now seems to be only a matter of time.


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