Thursday, January 10, 2013

This May Not Be It

In the 2003 movie The Recruit, senior agent Walter Burke's tagline was 'In the CIA, nothing is what it seems.'

It might be the case of recent conflicts between news outlets and the Propaganda Department.

It's not Spring 1989, when the country was nervously weathering an unprecedented inflation, when political corruption was attributed as the cause of all adversities. People was questioning the leadership of the country, and uncertain about future of Communism. This time it's different. Someone summarized it well: if you collect your intel exclusively from the Weibo (online), you would be convinced that the regime would fall before it saw the light of another day. However, when you get up in the morning, and take a walk in the grocery market, you will know the Party's ruling is to last another 100 years. In other words, the great majority of people do not echo the anxiety of intellectuals.

Those working in the media business have particular reasons to be nervous, partially originated from the strict control of Internet. While western press such as Washington Post and New York Times's financial prospect is hanging on a thread, Chinese newspapers have seen the fastest expansion in the last decade. While almost all major websites (Google, Wikipedia, Flickr, Youtube, Facebook, just naming a few) are blocked in China, Radio and TV are under much tighter control because of their dangerous capacity to reach audiences in real time, newspaper had been considered a favorable way of controlled information dissemination by the authority. At the same time, they are the only news source for ordinary Chinese. As a result, one large city often finds itself home to multiple daily newspapers, each with hundreds of pages in multiple sections, and each enjoys millions of circulations. Accordingly, each newspaper employs hundreds of staff reporters and editors, in addition to an army of supporting personnel.

In most recent years, as more people start to retrieve information from the Internet, many become disappointed by the weakness of traditional media. Struggling to compete with the Internet as well as other papers, newspapers are increasingly frustrated by the content censorship. Many journalists see the censorship a fatal threat to a newspaper's survival, and their personal financial stability.

Mr. Anti, a veteran new media researchers cautioned the world to notice the difference between news autonomy and news freedom. Despite what had been heard and said, the Southern Weekend was not fighting for Free Press. Rather, it was bargaining how much leeway it could use in a war of its own fate.

Dr. Fang 'Zhouzi' Shimin mocked the dispute between the newspaper and the Propaganda Department a daily disagreement between a prostitute and her pimp. Dr. Fang's wife Ms. Wang Juhua is a senior reporter with the official Xinhua News Agency. He must know better.

It's not the first time the duo concerted their moves. Not too long ago, Mr. Anti joined Dr. Fang in his attack at Han Han, and blamed Southern Weekend in making Han Han an idol for Chinese youth.

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