What Exactly Is the World Media Summit?

This week leaders of the world news media gathered in Beijing for the second biennial World Media Summit. From The Financial Times:

Eleven heavyweight media executives including New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr, BBC director-general Mark Thompson and AP president Tom Curley attended the summit and discussed things such as the protection of intellectual property rights, journalists’ safety, the media’s role in disasters and media cooperation in the new media era.

Also present were representatives of Thomson-Reuters, News Corporation, Google, Al Jazeera and Japan’s Kyodo news agency.

But why were foreign reporters denied access to the event? And what exactly is the “World Media Summit”? From David Bandurski at China Media Project:

Two years ago I wrote about the inaugural session of the World Media Summit, a gathering of world media “leaders” conceived, planned and by all accounts funded by China’s official Xinhua News Agency, which falls under China’s State Council and is subject to the public opinion controls of the Central Propaganda Department of the Chinese Communist Party. The biennial event, which China’s state media touted in 2009 as “the media Olympics,” kicked off again in Beijing yesterday ….

There is of course nothing wrong with global news executives meeting with their Beijing counterparts to discuss business cooperation and exchange.

The problem here is that news executives are being duped into participating in an institutional framework that is ostensibly “non-governmental [and] non-profit” but which is backed and funded by the Chinese state via its official news agency, and which clearly has agendas beyond simple business exchange that overlap with those of the Chinese leadership.


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