“A powerful internet – and public demand for honest reporting – is driving the state media to ever-greater levels of openness.” From the Guardian:
On the night of 9 February, China Central Television’s new building suddenly caught fire. People flocked to the scene, snapped pictures and videos, as if admiring a firework show, and couldn’t wait to post them on the internet. The most appropriate word to describe how the public felt would be schadenfreude – feeling joyous at others’ misfortunes.
The blogger Han Han, representing the “post-80s generation” who are generally considered aloof from politics, spoke out about the reason behind this schadenfreude. He wrote in his blog: “Those who set enough fires will get burnt. CCTV as a news channel has little journalistic ethics … Distort facts, suppress culture, alter facts, cover up, aid and abet evildoers, paint a false picture of peace and prosperity – how many of these has it done over the years?”
According to Han Han, the official mouthpieces, such as CCTV, People’s Daily, Guangming Daily and Xinhua, have no credibility whatsoever, their “news” is carefully filtered and deliberately chosen. Han Han had it right on the money.
The other side of the coin is that, as a result of the authority’s strict control over state media, the internet has played a greater role in China than in any other country in communicating facts and moulding public opinions. It is the most important driving force in improving China’s media environment. Today the state media follow every step of the internet. Traditional media, under stringent control from propaganda officers, are afraid of making mistakes. They have lost the nose for news and can only pick up after the net. Because of the net, the Chinese people have never been more active or effective in identifying news and participating in public opinions. It is such an obvious and forceful reality that the president and the premier both confessed that they often browse to hear people’s voices – indicating the shortcomings of the state media.