People’s Daily Admits: “Chinese media must sing the main theme”

No more hiding behind democracy with Chinese characteristics or “our own of version of press freedom.” The mouthpiece of the Communist Party of China said it straight out: There cannot be free press in China as long as the Communist Party rules.

Thanks to the China Media Project for Who is Beijing Daily speaking for?

CMP reports that an editorial in the paper criticized “commercial newspapers and magazines” in China of being infected with Western notions of journalism. (That would be things like asking questions instead of taking dictation and seeking out views other than the official version of a situation.)

The  editorial says Western concepts of the media’s role do not suit China’s unique “circumstances”.

 “Chinese media must sing the main theme,” the editorial said, a reference to the media’s role as propaganda vehicles for the CCP. “This is determined by China’s political system, and accords with the realities of China as a nation of 1.3 billion people. The fact is that for China to develop it must maintain social stability, and it must create a public opinion environment conducive to stability.”

So it is the same old meme that party/government must control the media to ensure stability.

They seem to keep missing the point that NO ONE in China trusts the state-controlled media. More people depend on word of mouth, text messages and Internet chatrooms/micro-blogs for news.

And we all know how reliable all those outlets are. (Ever play the game of “telephone” with 10 people? Try it with several hundreds of millions.)

Here is the bottom line for the folks at Zhongnanhai: Controlling the media leads to rumors. Rumors lead to inaccurate reports. Inaccurate reports lead to distrust in the government. Distrust of the government leads to instability.

The “Western” alternative: A free press dispels rumors with facts. With facts people see potential solutions to problems and tend not to panic. When people don’t panic stability is achieved.

Maybe these concepts are too simple for the party leadership to grasp.

Oh, and this goes for all dictatorships. You listening Syria, Cuba, Iran and Saudi Arabia? (Freedom House Press Freedom Index)

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Filed under Censorship, China

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