Chinese media seduced into wrongdoing by Western concepts
The Beijing Daily is a commercial daily controlled by city authorities and usually considered a Party paper. Today the top headline is that 70 million square meters worth of residential housing in Beijing will be reinsulated and fitted with energy-saving technology. This will save about 700,000 tons of coal per year, and will go a long way in achieving the environmental goals laid out in the 12th Five Year Plan. The picture shows the owners of one newly upgraded household admiring their new government-issued fan.
Yet by far the most interesting thing in today’s Beijing Daily is inside the paper: an editorial titled, “Chinese media interested in negative news have been seduced into wrongdoing by Western concepts.” The article explains that many of the negative reports circulating recently, about food safety, doctor-patient conflicts, construction quality, official corruption and other hot topics are damaging society. They create the illusion that all food in China is poisonous, all products rubbish, and all public officers bad…just because the media wants to create eye-catching news. In reality, China has achieved remarkable development and progress and has caught the whole world’s attention with its success.
Instead of striving for the most eye-catching headlines, the Chinese media should report the good deeds and achievements taking place in China. By seeking to grab attention through negative news reports, China’s media outlets are erasing the country’s achievements, confusing people and threatening development. The problem, the article claims, stems from the Western concept, “freedom of the press.” This idea has caused the media to become blinded by greed, so they will do anything to score some cheap applause. Journalists who think that ignoring the country’s achievements and digging up dirt is a form of “social responsibility” are mistaken: precisely the opposite is true. In the West, media outlets have strong ties to different political parties. They use their persuasive power to try to hurt other parties so their group can win. This is not conducive to creating a stable and harmonious social environment.
China’s media should adhere to its own concept of news – the Western method is not worthy of emulation. In China, news-sources should support national development. They should help bridge opposition and build consensus, and never fan the flames of conflict or discord. The 1.3 billion people of China want development and social stability. The media, which directs public, has the huge responsibility creating a public opinion environment conducive to maintaining stability.
The article has been widely republished. It appeared on Xinhua, Hong Kong Takungpao and the website of the lesser of China’s two news wires, China News. It was also posted on QQ.com this morning, and by 9am had attracted more than a hundred comments, most of them mocking and criticizing the article. By 9:40, the comment thread had been deleted and comments frozen.
Here are a few now-deleted QQ comments we saved from this morning:
“To expose corruption can have the effect of reducing even more corruption. Trying to hide or cover it up, will ultimately lead to the creation of even more and even worse evils.”
– posted by ‘啊土’
“What’s wrong with the Western concept [of freedom of the press]? We can see for ourselves if society is more full of corruption and legal cases or [heroic cases like] teacher Zhang Lili.* And what about the Cultural Revolution era? We’re happy even as the whole world is suffering. Official policies to keep people ignorant will never work! My government officials! ”
– posted by ‘聋-没耳’
* Zhang Lili is a teacher who famously lost her legs while saving a student from a car crash on May 8, 2012. See here for more information.
“If a value is true, then people will be more likely to defend and support it. What the hell are they worried about? Isn’t it the case that even if there is a lie, the truth will slowly manifest itself and the lie eventually exposed? ”
– posted by ‘Believe’
See Bill Bishop’s Weibo posting for many more comments, so far not deleted.
David Bandurski of the China Media Project has speculated on what might be behind the Beijing Daily article, and the fact that searches for Beijing Daily have since been censored on Sina Weibo. The recent series of events, he writes, “has to lead us to wonder how factionalism within the Party might actually be playing out right now through the Beijing Daily. In other words, we could be witnessing the low-level competition of factional propaganda and media control.” (For more, see his post on the China Media Project.)
Links and Sources
Beijing Daily: 7000万平方米住宅将节能改造 ; 媒体热衷负面报道是受西方观念蛊惑
Hong Kong Takungpao: 北京日报：食品、医患等问题频发是媒体错觉
China News: 北京日报：媒体热衷负面报道系受西方观念蛊惑
China Media Project: Who is Beijing Daily Speaking for?
Front page courtesy of Abbao.cn