Central Media Bodies Must “Remaining With the Party” During Restructuring

The official Communist Party of China’s theory periodical, Qiu Shi, and its associated periodical, Red Flag Papers, have recently posted an article by Xiao Zhitao, a PhD student of Shanghai Jiaotong University, and the deputy-director of the morning news programmes at China National Radio, on their official WeChat account an article on how, in the wake of media convergency restructuring, central media bodies must “remain with the party”

The article both takes a look at the huge online population (649 million; that’s nearly 50% of the entire nationwide population), and a huge population online using mobile phones (85.8%). It also realises that the way the message is being communicated has changed, including “fragmentation” and “SNS-isation”. The visible presence of the younger generations online has also been mentioned, as the topic of how to restructure without “dumping the Party” is being discussed.

Three topics were discussed:

  • Sticking firm to existing ideological principles
  • Change whilst making media more relevant to the population
  • Be pragmatic and innovative

Issues being raised included:

  • An influx, but also conflict, with different ideologies — Western and CPC Chinese ones.
  • The issue of “freedom of the press”, as well as the rush just to get breaking news “out there”.
  • Issues regarding “paid news” and “me-media”.
  • The question of “who is the news being reported for” — classic examples, as seen in previous years, included cases where investigative journalists were being grilled, “Are you speaking for the Party or the people?”, when in theory the two are the same, not opposite.
  • The issues of “low-brow, fake, extremist, or evil” content — most likely created to merely attract eyeballs.
  • Resistance to “trying new things” with new forms of information platforms — not merely “just” the Internet.
  • Staying passive in the face of change, especially online.

The article raises a few key points:

  • The Marxist outlook on news has to be stuck to; but this does not necessarily mean boring content, as to win, media bodies must post in the apt language for the specific audiences.
  • Content should be made more relevant, and the people — the audience — should be listened to more. The article makes a number of references of the people first policy.
  • The factor of the Internet should be a more felt factor in media development.
  • Innovate; be brave to try new ideas and methods out.

The article predictably echoes Beijing’s stance, but is also noted for mentioning the “mass line” — or rather, how to make the news relevant to people.

Under the former government of Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao, media convergence was planned but fell short of full implementation. The government of Xi Jinping and LI Keqiang are more active on this.

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