As Western Media Contract, China Daily Expands

The Globe and Mail‘s Mark MacKinnon reflects on Jeremy Webb’s “terrifying” observation that “China Daily is the only English-language paper available at my hotel in Milan“:

Fourteen words that capture the seismic shift underway in the global media scene, one with the potential to change mainstream thinking – and challenge the value system – of the world we live in. As Western newspapers and broadcasters close bureaus, cut staff and erect paywalls, the emerging media companies owned by the Communist Party of China, the Emir of Qatar and Vladimir Putin’s Kremlin continue to expand their influence and reach.

[…] There are those who argue this is all fair play, that the Western media played a cheerleading role in the Arab Spring (and before that, the U.S. invasion of Iraq). After all, the China Daily is only giving a different take on world events, something it’s clearly entitled to do. The danger is that it and other state mouthpieces are in ascendance at precisely the time the Western media, with its traditions of independence and objectivity, is in deepening crisis.

Even during the run-up to the 2003 Iraq war – the greatest recent failure of the Western media in its role as a check on power – there was always an attempt to be objective. Dissenting views were printed and broadcast, even if they were arguably marginalized. It’s a rare day when you can say the same about the pages of the China Daily, or the newscasts on RT [Russia Today] News.