Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Xi Defines State Media Role

Xi Jinping is "anchoring" the news, saying state media must work for the Party
When I worked in state media in Beijing, my colleagues who were Communist Party members would disappear once in a while for an entire afternoon for a "meeting". It was actually a study session to decipher then President Hu Jintao's "Three Represents" (三个代表).

They would also be reminded that the state media was the medium in which the Party's doctrine would be communicated, that everyone must be in line with the Party for the sake of unity and ensure everyone got the same message.

This was said behind closed doors.

And periodically Hu or the Premier Wen Jiabao would visit state media outlets and re-emphasize these points that were published in newspapers, read out in news casts and such.

But the exercise was stepped up by President Xi Jinping last Friday when he visited Xinhua, People's Daily and CCTV and insisted state media must show absolute loyalty to the Party.

Ren Zhiqiang says the media should serve the people
There were no vagaries here -- it was straight to the point. According to a report in People's Daily:

The Party's news and public opinion work must adhere to the principle of the Party character, cleaving fundamentally to the Party's leadership of news and public opinion work. Media run by the Party and government are propaganda positions of the Party and the government, and they must reflect the Party. All work of the Party's news and public opinion media must reflect the will of the Party, mirror the views of the Party, preserve the authority of the Party, preserve the unity of the Party, and achieve love of the Party, protection of the Party and acting for the Party; they must all increase their consciousness of falling in line, maintaining a high level of uniformity with the Party in ideology, politics and action.

It's pretty clear how Xi is instructing how the media should operate. What happened to the so-called "vibrant media" in China, where there were different shades of red?

Seems like that is no more, as everyone must disseminate the same message.

But perhaps even more interesting is that an outspoken tycoon has criticized Xi's pronouncement about state media's role in society.

Ren Zhiqiang said on Weibo on Friday that the media should serve the people, that news operations were funded by taxpayer money and so should serve the public rather than the leadership.

"When does the people's government turn into the party's government? [Are the media] funded by party membership dues? Don't waste taxpayers' money on things that do not provide them with services," he wrote.

Needless to say Ren was immediately attacked by a news site affiliated with the Beijing municipal party committee, accusing him of "anti-Communist Party" thought.

Qianlong.com claimed Ren represented capitalism that sought to topple the Party's rule and establish Western-style constitutionalism on the mainland, and even accused him of having "completely" lost his Party spirit.

It'll be interesting to see how Ren gets himself out of this fiasco unscathed if possible, but he is technically right. Taxpayer money does go to state enterprises like state media and it is the job of media to inform its readers.

But, things are done differently on the mainland, and with Xi in charge, it's near impossible to beat the President.

Nevertheless, with 37 million followers, Ren could win in the court of public opinion, though politically and financially he may lose big time.

No comments:

Post a Comment