Thursday, 19 December 2013

Creating a Monotone State Voice

Chinese state media will become more monotone and Marxist... fun reading...
With the possible expulsion of two dozen China-based journalists from the New York Times and Bloomberg at the end of this month, the mainland is stepping up its propaganda machine to further control its own journalists with more Marxist education.

There are reports that senior local propaganda officials will become heads or high-level officials of journalism programs at 10 top-tier universities on the mainland to ensure teachings are in line with the government's directives.

Similar changes would also be made at other journalism schools in the future.

Fudan University spearheaded this model in 2001 with the installation of current head of the journalism program, Song Chao, who is deputy propaganda director for Shanghai.

The propaganda authorities are reportedly in talks with the 10 universities on how to implement the Fudan model.

"The restructuring has already been decided and will be announced soon," said a person from one of the journalism schools. "Education on the Marxist view of journalism will be intensified."

Another source said the new developments were happening because the authorities felt mainland journalists were becoming more influenced by Western liberal thinking. One incident that comes to mind is the controversy over the New Year editorial calling for constitutional rights at the Guangzhou-based Southern Weekly newspaper, that alarmed the authorities.

However some academics pointed out that press freedom was a guiding principle of the Marxist view of journalism and questioned the authorities' understanding of the media as a platform to address the Party's thinking and political ideas.

"The propaganda authorities probably fear that there will be more shock waves, with China continuing to deepen market reform and open up its economy," said one source. "It's hard to believe the authorities will resort to the old style of tightening their ideological grip."

Nevertheless, Chinese President Xi Jinping already set the tone back in August when he told a national conference of propaganda officials to present a unified message and to adhere to Marxist beliefs.

Political commentator Zhang Lifan said the authorities were aware that journalists were more distanced from the Party line. "Now it wants to start from the roots by revamping journalism schools," he said.

But some, like Li Datong, a former editor at China Youth Daily, think the latest directive will be ineffective. "The journalists will memorize some lines of Marxist thought but in the end they won't care too much about it."

We tend to agree with Li, but we can't help think that for the most part Chinese state media is already pretty dull and with even greater controls it's going to even more bland and monotone.

Won't that make the public repel state media even more? Or is the next step to somehow force propaganda down people's throats?

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