Propaganda Director’s Call to Traditional Media: Wake Up

On 12 April, “Red Flag Manuscripts”, a political theory journal run by the authoritative Party publication Seeking Truth, published an article written by Ren Xianliang, vice-chair of the All-China Journalists’ Association and vice-director of the Shaanxi Propaganda Department. It provides an interesting insight in the intra-official discourse on media governance issues and some of the opinions within the propaganda structure regarding the effect of social media. 

How is the Party to Manage the Media Well in the New Era?

Comprehensively Planning Two Public Opinion Fields, Concentrating Positive Social Energy

In the China of today, two public opinion fields objectively exist, one is the traditional media public opinion field with Party papers, Party periodicals, Party stations and news agencies at the core, one is the new media public opinion field with the Internet as basis. The two public opinion fields’ central dissemination themes, appeals and expressions have been separated and opposed for a long time, which has not only directly challenged the baseline of the principle that the Party manages the media, but has also lead to the separation and confrontation of social strata, grave damage to government credibility and a corruption and weakening of the Party’s governance base.

New media represented by the Internet are a new factor changing the situation, public discourse power has been released to the largest extent, in the network space, the masses make a hubbub, wantonly express themselves, and flow disorderly. “Online Plotters”, the “Online Navy”, “Online Violence” and other manufactured treacherous online public opinion, “Online Questioning of Politics”, Online Supervision” “Online Trials” and other incited public opinion tempest have become turbulent, the difficulty of public opinion guidance and social management has risen abruptly. Especially after the rise of microblogs in 2010, and the “Weibo Era” in which “the entire people become journalists” began, trivial matters may all be magnified by the “surrounding gaze” into major public opinion incidents with extremely sensational effects. What is even more severe is that some forces manipulate online public opinion, fabricate political rumours, and maliciously blacken the image of the Party and the Government, which disintegrates the governing basis of the Party. The 2013 “Southern Weekend” New Year’s message incident brazenly challenged the system of the Party’s news management. And some people use the network to set up “individual media”, their words and acts are “unrestrained”, “not bound by laws or Heaven”, their influence is not inferior to newspapers and periodicals, or news agencies. For example, a few people hold high the banner of anti-corruption, or raise a flag of “journalism” without journalist cards, they use websites registered abroad, and “sell export products at home”, they use explosive means to blackmail and kidnap local Party Committees and governments. Some people even call online disorder an “online cultural revolution”.

At the same time, under the reverse pressure of online forces, traditional media have arrived in a situation where it is impossible not to reform. Some traditional media have an unclear understanding in this regard, or are even blindly optimistic, add to this the “official media” air that is far removed from the masses, bureaucratic “eight legged” writing styles, mechanical and preaching “inculcation” models, and as time passes, audiences stay at a respectful distance from mainstream media, hate it and abandon it. At present, connecting the two public opinion fields and raising public opinion strength has become a real issue for strengthening the Party’s governance ability construction that urgently needs to attract high attention.

I, Governing new media according to laws and regulations, occupying new public opinion battlefields

Draw up real regulations and true rules. The rise of network another new media, and especially the emergence of blogs, microblogs and other social media have, in fact, disintegrated policy regulations about not permitting private persons to run the media, prohibiting supervision across regions, etc.

Some Weibo bigwigs, numbering easily amass fans numbering into the hundreds of thousands or even million, Weibo periodicals and Weibo stations have even been set up, online channels are even more unusual and fiery, their dissemination strength and influence greatly exceeds that of print media and even radio and television. It seems as if management departments turn a blind eye to whether or not so-called famous explosive people, and Weibo bigwigs have lawful and proper journalist cards or whether or not they have the credentials for gathering, editing and broadcasting news, or are at wit’s end. It seems as if all commercial websites are gathering, editing and reprinting news in violation of regulations, and management regulations concerning Weibos of civil servants and news employees, with a bit of flexibility, are easily avoided, they exist in name only and perform practically no function. Our country is a rule of law country, the State has the powers to manage the web according to the line, those who run it have a responsibility to run the web according to the law, the public has a duty to use the web according to the law. National legislation organs and network management departments must suit the requirements of the circumstances and developments, comprehensively examine and arrange current network management regulations, and must timely revise those that are out o date, the perfection of those with loopholes must be grasped, and those that are newly formulated must be published as soon as possible, they should also be focused, perspicacious and be truly practical and effective.

Dare to truly grasp and manage. The Party managing the media and the Party managing public opinion is similar to the Party managing the Army, and the Party managing the gun, it is the basic and unwavering principle of persisting in the leadership of the Party, and especially under the current circumstances, this can only be strengthened and not loosened. At present, a few netizens use the network to vent personal spite, fabricate rumours or mislead the masses, they even infringe other persons’ privacy or commit online crimes; some so-called network elites use sensitive affairs to wilfully attack the current system, censure or blacken the Party and the government, or even incite the masses to subvert the Party’s leadership and the State regime; some traditional media employees plant the public garden by day, and plant private soil at night, they publish drafts that they cannot openly publish in their own media online, incognito or using an alias, or even sell the m to some websites for money. The network is absolutely not outside the law, and must be managed according to the law. If we do not take this serious, but take a laissez-fair attitude, a “broken window” effect is bound to ensue, which will further engender and aggravate online public opinion disorder. In fact, we must dare to boldly confront those powerful media, famous websites, famous bloggers and Weibo bigwigs in terms of management, warn those that should be warned, shut up those that should be shut up, and close those that should be closed. As long as they violate laws, regulations or discipline, we must persist in handling them according to the law, and may absolutely not be soft-hearted. Only if we get to manage new media, including the network, according to the law, in the same way as real society, will we be able to turn matters to our advantage and not suffer harm, and will it be possible to give beck a standardized, orderly, civilized and healthy network world to the masses.

Be good at bringing management into use. The Party’s Internet work policies persist in integrating the three aspects of development, use and management throughout. In dealing with new media, we must equally be good at explaining, management and treatment. We must organize special forces to continue to deeply research and grasp the characteristics and rules of new media and their information dissemination, to make management more skilful, raise its level, and enrich its effectiveness. We must treat news websites that have newsgathering credentials equal to traditional media, and bring them into the Party news management structure, provide their newsgathering and editing personnel with journalist cards, and implement regularized and systematized management. Towards important and influential commercial websites, we must strictly implement management according to the law, realistically standardize their news publishing activities, and effectively control their employees. Online “opinion leaders” have represented the voice of a corresponding quantity of fans, the masses’ attention is high, and their influence on netizens’ emotions and online public opinion is large. Management departments must adopt many kinds of methods to transform, foster and train a large batch of “opinion leaders” who understand, agree with and praise the Party and government line, principles and policies, and influence netizens and guide public opinion through them. At the same time, we must advocate that Party members and cadres go online, open microblogs, and speak for the Party and the government, fostering our own online “speech leaders”, and occupying this new public opinion battleground of new media.

II, Connect the two public opinion fields, carry forward the main social melody.

Seek for the “largest common denominator” of both public opinion fields. Despite the fact that the two public opinion fields of traditional media and new media objectively exist, and it is even so that one declines while the other grows, but it will be difficult for one to eat the other for the time being, and they will jointly live and exist, mutually intermingle, mutually influence each other, and interact often for a long time into the future. At present, in strengthening the Party’s leadership over news and propaganda work, traditional media and news media should not be one-sidedly dismissed, we must connect both public opinion fields, jointly play the main melody of the times, and combine positive development energy. Connection means integration, the higher the degree of integration of both public opinion fields, the more unified the expression of social and public opinion is, the more harmonious the public opinion environment will be, and the stronger the focus and effectiveness of public opinion guidance will be. Because of this, we must strive to pursue the “largest common denominator” between traditional media and news media, grasp common grounds and points of consensus, and finish great public opinion guidance writings. The Party’s purpose is to serve the people with a whole heart and soul. the Party has handed an important task to traditional media, which is to integrate transmission of the Party’s voice and reflecting the voices of the people. Now, online and other new media are the greatest assembly platform for public emotions and the popular will, its mainstream similarly is upward, inclined to the good and to the beautiful, it longs for political peace, social harmony and happiness in the people’s livelihood. The heart of the Party and the will of the people are the largest “mix of feelings” between the two public opinion fields, and are a rallying point for connecting both public opinion fields.

Promote “same-frequency resonance” between both public opinion fields. Setting up discussion topics is an important means of pubic opinion guidance. News management departments must bend over their bodies, and listen attentively to the voices and will of the people, seize more topics from the masses’ public opinion, set up discussion topics more from the angle of the masses, in order to engineer that both public opinion fields sing ‘the same song”. The traditional media and new media share, “points of interest”, including large matters such as the general plan for the Party to run the country and govern politics, policies in domestic affairs and foreign relations, and small matters such as the safety and daily life of the common people and all sorts of matters among people and society, as long as a “point of excitement” is prodded, they form public opinion fields with same-frequency resonance, which develop and expand healthy and upward mainstream public opinion. Even when dealing with the surging tides of public opinion shaped in some public crises, as long as we are good at discovering the light of reason within them and enlarge the positive voices within them, we guide actions according to circumstances and respond correctly, we will be able to collect the flowing tricks and make them into large rivers and steams, and let mainstream public opinion become loud and clear. Among “Protect the Diaoyutai” anti-Japan demonstrations that occurred in many places nationwide on 15 September 2012, the phenomenon of smashing Japanese cars occurred in some localities, online and offline, there was all-round condemnation of this. Propaganda management departments grasped the opportunity to promote the common voice of traditional media and new media, and vigorously guided the public to reasonably, lawfully and orderly express patriotic emotions, gaining an extensive response from all walks of society, and safeguarding the greater picture of harmony and stability, it was a successful example of the connection and guidance of the two public opinion fields.

Stimulate the organic integration of the two public opinion fields. All levels of Party Committees and governments, as well as leading cadres, must actively demolish the “lack of understanding” concerning the web and netizens, and cannot despise online public opinion because of its “grass roots”, cannot reject it because of netizens’ “habitual calling into question” of the government, and can certainly not pretend to be deaf and dumb because of anxieties to provoke disputes. Only by making social public opinion and especially online public sentiment into wind vanes and reference systems for realizing the popular will, standing on the height of building the Party to serve the people and governing for the people, daring to face up to responsibilities, daring to take on the charge, timely responses and vigorous accomplishments, will it be possible to win the hearts of the people and win back confidence.  The emergence of large numbers of government microblogs is a new media that government actively uses to build bridges to communicate with the masses, although it is a small area, its audience is extensive, its interactivity is strong, and its degree of attention is high, it has a great effect in disseminating information, explaining policy, answering policy and providing assistance, and it has already to a certain degree reversed the situation where the Party and the government were often passive and reeling in the microblog sphere.

Traditional media must also clearly understand the situation, liberate thoughts and dare to make breakthroughs. Reform should be comprehensive, the prerequisite is the correct orientation, the basis is the correct position, and the handhold is renewing content and promoting it in public opinion supervision. They must adapt to the tendency of mass-decentralized dissemination and rapidly transform from information disseminators into opinion providers, speak differently to different audiences, transmit different voices and provide different opinions, to effectively guide and influence different target groups and target areas. Media competition is centred on news, in public opinion guidance, “content is king”. Only when the audience likes to watch or listen and wants to watch or listen, is possible to realize effective dissemination. Mainstream media shall soberly recognize that “it isn’t the masses that abandoned you, it is you who became removed from the masses”. They must strengthen a consciousness of their audience, a service consciousness and a consciousness of timely effect, decide to report content on the basis of mass demand, news value and social effect, do not lose their tongue at key moments and concerning major issues, but make achievements. They must march out, sink in, and merge, make the masses into subjects of reporting and service targets, use methods that the masses like to speak, make the satisfaction or dissatisfaction of the masses into the highest standard of weighing the effect of news and propaganda. Make practicing the Party’s mass line into a self-consciousness; make walking towards the grass roots, transforming work styles, improving writing stiles, into a sort of normality.

Public opinion supervision is the natural duty of news media, and is an important means to remould the credibility and authority of mainstream media, the popular masses have corresponding expectations, and the Party and the government have placed great hopes here. Mainstream media cannot be ostriches burying their heads in the sand, but must dare to directly face social hot points and public opinion focus points, directly reflect popular feelings and the popular will, timely respond to the concerns of common people, vigorously influence and guide public opinion, promote the resolution of real problems, dispel negative factors inducing contradictions, and collect positive energy promoting development. At the same time, traditional media must also accelerate their march towards new media, run official websites well, open official microblogs, open up authoritative information dissemination channels to let the voice of the Party and the government enter online communities timely, and promote smooth communication and benign interaction between the government and the masses online.

Ren Xianliang: Vice-Chairman of the All-China Journalists’ Association, Standing Vice-Director of the CCP Shaanxi Provincial Party Committee Propaganda Department)

 

新时期党如何管好媒体?

当下中国,客观存在着两个舆论场,一个是以党报党刊党台、通讯社为主体的传统媒体舆论场,一个是以互联网为基础的新兴媒体舆论场。两个舆论场传播基调和诉求表达长期分离对立,不仅直接挑战党管媒体的原则底线,而且导致社会阶层分裂对峙、政府公信力严重受损、党的执政基础腐蚀削弱。

以互联网为代表的新兴媒体异军突起,公共话语权得到最大程度释放,网络空间众声喧哗、肆意表达、无序流淌。“网络推手”、“网络水军”、“网络暴力”等制造的网络舆情波诡云谲,“网络问政”、“网络监督”、“网络审判”等掀起的舆论风暴汹涌澎湃,舆论引导和社会管理难度陡然提升。尤其是2010年微博兴起,开启了“全民皆记者”的“微时代”,鸡毛蒜皮的事都可能被“围观”放大成极具轰动效应的重大舆论事件。更为严峻的是,一些势力操纵网络舆论,编造政治谣言,恶意抹黑党和政府形象,瓦解党的执政根基。2013年“南周”新年献词事件,公然挑战党的新闻管理制度。而一些人员利用网络创设“个人媒体”,言论行为“无拘无束”、“无法无天”,其影响力不亚于一份报刊、一家通讯社。如个别人打着反腐旗帜,没记者证却打着“记者”的旗号,通过在境外注册网站,然后“出口转内销”,用爆料手段,要挟、绑架地方党委政府。有人甚至将网上的乱象称之为一场“网上文化大革命”。

与此同时,在网络力量的倒逼下,传统媒体已经到了非改不可的地步。一些传统媒体对此认识不清乃至盲目乐观,再加上高高在上的“官媒”架子、官腔官调的“八股”文风、刻板说教的“灌输”模式,久而久之使得受众对主流媒体敬而远之、厌而弃之。当前,打通两个舆论场,提高舆论引导力,已成为加强党的执政能力建设迫切需要引起高度重视的现实问题。

一、依法规制新媒体,占领舆论新阵地

订立真规实矩。网络等新兴媒体的崛起,特别是博客、微博等自媒体的出现,事实上瓦解了不准私人办媒体、禁止异地监督等政策规定。一些微博大V,动辄几十万、成百万乃至上千万粉丝,甚至办起了微刊、微电台,网上视频更是异常火爆,其传播力和影响力大大超过了平面媒体甚至广播电视。对一些所谓的知名爆料人、微博大V,有没有合法合格的记者证,具备不具备采编播新闻的资质,管理部门似乎视而不见、束手无策。几乎所有商业网站都在违规采编、转载新闻,而关于公职人员、新闻从业者微博管理规定,稍加变通,即可规避,形同虚设,几无作用。我国是一个法治国家,国家有权依法管网,举办者有责任依法办网,公众有义务依法上网。国家立法机关和网络管理部门要适应形势发展需要,全面审视和清理现行网络管理法规,过时的要及时修订,有漏洞的要抓紧完善,需要新立的要尽快出台,还应有针对性、前瞻性,真正实用管用。

敢于真抓实管。党管媒体、党管舆论,如同党管军队、党管枪杆子,是坚持党的领导不可动摇的基本原则,尤其是在当前形势下只能加强、不能放松。当前,个别网民利用网络发泄私愤、造谣传谣、误导公众,甚至侵害他人隐私、实施网络犯罪;一些所谓网络精英借助敏感事件,恶意攻击现行制度,指责抹黑党和政府,甚至煽动公众颠覆党的领导和国家政权;一些传统媒体从业人员白天种公家田,晚上种私人地,通过隐姓埋名、化名注册,把不能在自家媒体上公开发表的稿子,转而发到网上,甚至卖给一些网站赚钱收费。网络绝非法外之地,必须依法管理。如果总不较真、听之任之,势必形成“破窗效应”,放纵和加剧网络舆论乱象。即使对那些强势媒体、知名网站和名人博主、微博大V,在管理上也必须敢于碰硬,该警告的警告,该禁言的禁言,该关闭的关闭。只要违法违规违纪,就坚决依法处理,决不手软。只有将包括网络在内的新兴媒体,像现实社会一样依法管理起来,才能为我所用、不受其害,也才能还公众一个规范有序、文明健康的网络世界。

善于寓管于用。党的互联网工作方针,始终坚持发展、利用、管理三位一体。对待新兴媒体,同样要善解善管善待。要组织专门力量,持续深入地研究和掌握新兴媒体及其信息传播的特点和规律,使管理更具艺术、更有水平、更富成效。要把具有新闻采编资质的新闻网站,与传统媒体同等对待,纳入党的新闻管理体制之内,为其新闻采编人员颁发记者证,实施正规化、制度化管理。对有重要影响的商业网站,则要严格依法实施管理,切实规范其新闻刊载行为,有效管控其从业人员。网上“意见领袖”代表了相当数量拥趸的心声,公众关注度高,对网民情绪和网络舆论影响很大。管理部门要采取多种手段,转化、扶植和培育一大批理解、认同、赞成党和政府路线方针政策的“意见领袖”,通过他们来影响网民、引导舆论。同时,要倡导党员干部上网、开微博,替党和政府说话,培养我们自己网上的“说话领袖”,占领新媒体这一新的舆论阵地。

二、打通两个舆论场,弘扬社会主旋律

寻求两个舆论场的“最大公约数”。尽管传统媒体与新兴媒体两个舆论场客观存在,甚至此消彼长,但一时谁也还很难把谁吃掉,在今后相当长的时期,依然还会共生共存、相互融合,相互影响、频繁互动。当前加强党对新闻宣传工作的领导,传统媒体和新兴媒体不可偏废,必须打通两个舆论场,同奏时代主旋律,聚合发展正能量。打通意味着融合,两个舆论场的重合度越高,表明社会舆论越统一,舆论环境越和谐,舆论引导的针对性和实效越强。因此,我们要努力寻求传统媒体与新兴媒体的“最大公约数”,抓住共同点、共通点,做好舆论引导大文章。党的宗旨是全心全意为人民服务,党交给传统媒体的一项重要任务就是把传递党的声音和反映人民心声有机统一起来。而网络等新兴媒体正是民情民意的最大汇聚平台,其主流同样是向上向善向美,渴望政治清明、社会和谐、民生幸福。党心与民意,就是两个舆论场最大的“交集”,是打通两个舆论场的着力点。

推动两个舆论场“同频共振”。议题设置是舆论引导的重要手段。新闻管理部门要俯下身子、侧耳倾听民声民意,多从公众舆论中捕捉话题,多从群众角度设置议题,策动两个舆论场齐唱“同一首歌”。传统媒体和新兴媒体共同的“兴趣点”,大到党的治国理政方略、国家内政外交决策,小到百姓安危冷暖、人间社会百态,只要戳到“兴奋处”,都能形成同频共振的舆论场,发展壮大健康向上的主流舆论。即使在一些公共危机形成的舆论狂潮中,只要我们善于发现其中的理性光芒,放大其中的正面声音,因势利导,正确应对,就能汇涓涓细流成大江大河,让主流舆论响亮有力。2012年9月15日全国多地发生“保钓”反日游行,一些地方出现了打砸日系车辆现象,网上网下对此也是一片谴责。宣传管理部门抓住时机,推动传统媒体和新兴媒体共同发声,积极引导公众理性合法有序表达爱国情感,赢得社会各界广泛响应,维护了和谐稳定大局,是打通和引导两个舆论场的成功例证。

促进两个舆论场有机融合。各级党委政府和领导干部,要主动拆除对网络、网民的 “心理隔膜”,既不能因为网上舆情的“草根”而藐视之,也不能因为网民对政府的“习惯性质疑”而排斥之,更不能因为担心沾惹是非而装聋作哑。只有把社会舆论特别是网络舆情作为现实民意的风向标和参照系,站在立党为公、执政为民的高度,勇于正视、敢于担当,及时回应、积极作为,才能赢得民心、赢回信任。大量政务微博的诞生,就是政府主动利用新媒体、搭建起的与民众沟通的桥梁,虽是尺幅之地,却受众面广、互动性强、关注度高,发挥着发布信息、解读政策、解答疑问、提供帮助的大作用,已经在一定程度上扭转了党和政府在微博上经常处于被动的尴尬局面。

传统媒体也必须认清形势、解放思想、勇于突破。改革应当是全方位的,前提是正确导向,基础是准确定位,抓手在革新内容,提升在舆论监督。要适应分众化传播趋势,迅速从信息传播者向意见提供者转变,针对不同的受众,说不同的话、传递不同的声音、提供不同的意见,有效引导和影响不同的目标人群和目标领域。媒体竞争主打新闻,舆论引导“内容为王”。只有受众爱看爱听、愿看愿听,才能实现有效传播。主流媒体应当清醒认识到,“不是群众抛弃了你,而是你远离了群众”。必须强化受众意识、服务意识、时效意识,根据群众需求、新闻价值、社会效果决定报道内容,在关键时刻、重大问题上不失语、有作为。要走出去、沉下去、融进去,把群众作为报道主体、服务对象,用群众喜欢的方式说话,把群众满意不满意作为衡量新闻宣传成效的最高标准。将践行党的群众路线,作为一种自觉;将走基层、转作风、改文风,成为一种常态。

舆论监督是新闻媒体的天然职责,是重塑主流媒体公信力、权威性的重要手段,人民群众相当期待,党和政府寄予厚望。主流媒体不能做埋头沙子的鸵鸟,而要敢于直面社会热点、舆论焦点,真实反映民情民意,及时回应百姓关切,积极影响引导舆论,推动现实问题解决,消解诱发矛盾的负面因素,聚集推动发展的正能量。同时,传统媒体还要加快向新媒体进军,办好官方网站,开通官方微博,畅通权威信息发布渠道,让党和政府的声音及时进入网络社区,推动网上政府与民众的顺畅沟通和良性互动。(任贤良:中国记协副主席、中共陕西省委宣传部常务副部长)

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6 thoughts on “Propaganda Director’s Call to Traditional Media: Wake Up

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