What’s Wrong with China’s media

September 27, 2006 at 2:39 am (China, Journalism, Media)

Here is a simple example of the difference between a Chinese newspaper and an American media outlet: China Business News published a story based on online chats; Bloomberg refuses to publish any stories with anonymous sources except if the editor-in-chief agrees.

In my personal, silly view, Chinese media only need to do a very simple thing to catch up with the US media, which they always admire and imitate. Just be SERIOUS. Be serious on sources, be serious on facts, be serious on writing, and be serious on journalism.

Journalism is not the only area falling short of sincerity. In fact, the whole country is in a lack of seriousness. Going to a store, you would be asked with a false price. Going to a hospital, you will be treated carelessly if you are lucky or deadly if you are not. Going to a school, you will be taught by teachers who care about their business much more than your education.

We waste tremendous money and time only to make sure that we get treated seriously and truthfully. This is a huge waste of the nation’s wealth.

Journalism is a sector that is super sensitive to seriousness. In fact, being a journalist itself is a commitment to truth and probity. Journalists in the US are not well paid as well, but they do far better jobs than Chinese reporters do.

We can’t blame an individual reporter. To build honest journalism, we have a whole lot more to do. To only point a few. First, keep a proper distance between the owner of a news outlet and the journalists. Read the news to see how the editor-in-chief of LA Times risked his career rebelling orders of more lay-offs from the Tribune Company. Second, employ journalists who are more professional and more committed and give them training. Third, establish rigorous ethic and moralities and make sure no one has exception to make a compromise. Fourth, give journalists more respect, monetarily and spiritually.

This argument is not economically possible, however. If you can make the same money from a journalistic job, which asks for relentless moralities, as from any other jobs, which barely have moral requirements, why will you choose to be a journalist? Besides, most reporters are paid awkwardly in China.

The whole journalistic industry is still in a nascent shape. Caijing Magazine is respectable. But what Caijing does is just what a healthy news outlet should do. When a market is full of inferior products, a normal product will be over bought.

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