Media Environment in China
A government choking the freedom of press is worse than a media presenting selected truths. Countries with notoriously restrictive laws like China has always vied to keep the media in line and to use it for government-approved propaganda messages. Few weeks back, after Chinese media’s onslaught on bribery and corruption scandals, the government immediately sent a new set of instructions to be followed by media from then on. They also called it unethical and ‘rumor mongering’ to showcase the corruption charges.
Now, the foreign journalists, working in China are also gradually feeling that the conditions for reporting have gone from bad to worse, as the intimidating Chinese authorities often block off journalists from reaching large parts of the nation by withholding their visas. The authorities often block the websites of these overseas news journals. When China hosted the Olympics (Beijing) in 2008, it promised greater press freedom, but a recent survey shows that it has significantly gone bad. In the World Press Freedom Index 2014 map, China is named as the sixth worst country in the world for press freedom, ranking at 175th place out of 180.
The other worst offenders of media include Somalia, North Korea, and Syria. The Chinese government has banned reporting on sensitive topics like Tibet, ethnic violence in Xinjiang region, and its punitive immigration policies. The foreign journalists are totally denied of any government information and access to Chinese market. The Chinese citizens who work in foreign press as news assistants or translators are harassed by the police or else they are forced to act as spies. Few years back, before the Beijing Olympics, the social media users and bloggers have fought over the government’s ability to control the spread of information.
However, under Xi Jinping government, a greater control and new laws were passed to keep the social and news media on a leash. Five years back, Chinese media were banned on doing inter-region reporting. So, media outlets are allowed to report news only in their provision. They are banned from reporting local government issues in other states of the country. Cross-regional reporting in China is said to be thriving hard to survive although the punishment against such actions are fiercer than ever. Many foreign news organizations’ efforts to establish bureaus in China are constantly thwarted. PBS News hour, Huffington Post is some of news channels that have been denied licenses to set up office in China.
Being a student in Chinese Journalism College is also very different compared to other countries. In China, journalism is fully expected to follow the Marxist views (by supporting party principles) and must criticize the concept of ‘free speech’ (which is named as bourgeoisie idea). In short, journalists are taught to be the mouthpiece of government. It is also said that a directive introduced in December 2013, insisted journalism students to take additional ideological education in ‘Marxism’. The directive is alluded to have asked the students for Communist party slogans to pass an exam.