Beijing Beat blog with Mark Godfrey

Beijing Beat

Chinese Media: Freer Than You Think?

Jul 8

Written by:
7/8/2009 11:09 AM  RssIcon

Surprising chinks of light in state-run press

Funny that this week, when local and international press if full of the riots in Xinjiang, I read an article by Tian Wei, a presenter on China Central TV’s English channel, about China getting a raw deal from the western press – which, she claims, is incapable of being impartial in reports on China. Tian suggests China’s media, flush with government money lately, needs to sharpen up how it presents its story. Nothing though about what it says. I wonder if better writing or video editing can make any difference when you’re running a government press release pretty much verbatim – as internationally-focused Chinese media like China Daily regularly do when the issue is a sensitive one for the Politburo. Some of the screeds pointed towards the Dalai Lama are neither well written, balanced, or news. But then sometimes I’m surprised at how far titles like China Daily do go – and I don’t doubt their journalists would like to go farther. Like the piece the other day about the ‘shang fang,’ protestors who travel to Beijing from provincial towns to air grieviances against often-corrupt local officials. The piece was softly critical of the local cadres for sending minders to ‘escort’ protestors during their time in Beijing. Local governors regularly send thugs to intimidate the protestors into not embarrassing them before higher authorities. Mild stuff perhaps, but very interesting and I think if local media can continue pushing the envelope Chinese media will read a whole lot better in five or ten year’s time. It’s as much about substance as style, Tian Wei.

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