Is Public Opinion the Problem, or the Solution?

China Media Project continues their reporting on and analysis of official efforts in China to “channel” public opinion, which authorities tend to view as a “crisis.” From their latest post on the topic:

State media reported last week that a three-day training session on public opinion channeling for news and information was held in Gansu province, with 134 police officials in attendance.

A Legal Daily article re-posted at People’s Daily Online said the Gansu session was the first of its kind “for police leaders working on the front lines,” and that it would be “advantageous in utilizing the media to support and publicize advanced models of police work and team building.”

To some extent, it makes sense that leaders and local authorities in China are more interested in what some dismiss as run-of-the-mill “spin control.” Isn’t it a sign of progress, for example, for government spokespeople to step out more frequently and explain a situation, and the government’s position?

We have to remember, though, that these “spin” tactics are being applied against a backdrop of strict propaganda controls, party-government monopolization of news voices, and rigorous internet censorship mechanisms. The government’s voice is amplified. Reporters, meanwhile, can only sit on their hands, or join in the amplification.

September 8, 2009 12:09 PM
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