On China Media Project, David Bandurski writes about domestic media coverage of the recent taxi strike in Chongqing as an example of the new governmental approach to media control, which aims to “actively set the agenda”:
When the taxi strike occurred in Chongqing last week, news coverage unfolded as a virtual textbook case in Hu Jintao’s new, more active approach to “guidance of public opinion,” what one top Chinese editor aptly called on a recent visit to Hong Kong, “Control 2.0.”
As we wrote in our analysis of Hu Jintao’s June 2008 media policy speech, the March unrest in Tibet and the May 12 Sichuan earthquake offered party leaders very different lessons about information control.
In the case of Tibet, China sealed off the region, creating a vacuum in which international media took the lead in the agenda setting process. Many leaders felt that these actions had meant that China completely lost control of the agenda.
By contrast, coverage of the Sichuan quake was relatively open, particularly during the early stages, and this enabled China to set the agenda and project a favorable international image.