Qiushi, 16 August 2013
A news view is a general view and basic viewpoint concerning news phenomena and news activities. Our Party advocates the use of the Marxist news view to guide news work and practice, this has a strong real focus at present. This article discusses some views on a few issues that everyone follows with interest.
I, The question of the news structure
There are always people who believe that China’s news structure is not good, and advocate that China implements a news structure like in the West.
News has double properties: first, there are news dissemination properties, second, there are ideological properties. The former are common properties, the latter are special properties. The Western news view painstakingly stresses the common properties of news, and actively conceals the ideological property of news. The Marxist news view has never concealed its own political viewpoints and tendencies, and stresses the Party nature of news.
Why discuss the ideological properties that news has? News is the reporting of facts, and is at the same time an outcome of ideas. Because facts do not have value characteristics, but news inevitably contains evaluations of facts when reporting facts, it reflects differences in value views. When different media report the same event, reports may be different. “Using the facts to talk” is the most important characteristic of news, news brings the dispositions of the reporter into the objective reporting of facts, and what is expressed is often a sort of “intangible opinion”.
Because of this, news has very strong ideological properties, and the news undertaking belongs to the superstructure. In the social superstructure, political thinking and political structure occupy a central position; they influence and restrain other component parts of the superstructure, including the news undertaking. Any social news activity must be guided and restrained by the political thinking and national political structure that occupies the ruling position in this society. Political systems decide news systems, news systems are an important area of political systems.
Why can China not implement a Western news system? The answer is, in fact, quite simple: China is a Socialist country, its political system and economic system is different from the West, how could the news system be the same?
Western news systems are so-called “independent media” systems. “Independent media” are privately owned media. The Western news view believes that only independent media can avoid the control of governments and parties, ensure political neutrality, adhere to “objective reporting” and become “social property”. This sort of idea has a profound influence in Western society. When the West criticizes China’s news system, one very important point is the criticism that China does not have independent media.
What “independent media” reflects is the crucial point of the Western capitalist news system. Media must make money, only people who have money can run media and only big capitalists, and big financial groups can run large media. The same is true for facts, those Western media who play a decisive role in the global media industry, who control the forces of nature in the international dissemination area, and who exert the most power and influence in global politics, economics, ideological and culture, in fact are all controlled in the hands of an extreme minority of clans unknown to the public. The US “Wall Street Journal”, Fox Broadcasting Corporation, the UK “Times” and others belong to Rupert Murdoch’s News International; the US Columbia Broadcasting Corporation, Paramount Television Group and MTV belong to the Viacom Group controlled by Sumner Redstone; the world’s largest book publishing enterprise, Penguin Random House, Europe’s larges television broadcasting company, RTL Group, Europe’s largest magazine publishing company Gruner + Jahr is owned by the Bertelsmann group controlled by the Mohn family; in the US, under the banner of the New York Times Company controlled by the Sulzberger family, there are the “New York Times” and the “International Herald Tribune”, the Graham family controls the “Washington Post”, the “Los Angeles Times” has been controlled for a long time by the Chandler family; in England, the Thomson family controls Reuters, on of the main four global news agencies, the British “Financial Times” and “Economist” magazines and the Pearson Television Group, that has the largest television network un Europe, all fall under the banner of the Pearson family, the British “Guardian” has always been controlled by the hands of the Scott family; the US National Broadcasting Company has been purchased by General Electric, the latter is controlled by the Morgan Group; the US Cable News Network’s backstage boss is Time Warner, and the 11 members of Time Warner’s Board of Directors seemingly are all high officers in investment banks, multinational enterprises and media organs, and former high government officials; The Board of Directors of another media giant, the Disney Group, that owns the American Broadcasting Company and other media, contains former or current high executives in Procter & Gamble, Visa, Google, Starbucks and many other large enterprises. Such a complex atlas of power constitutes the true picture of the Western media sector.
“Independent media” may be independent from government or independent from political parties, but they cannot be independent from capital. Media may “independently” hold politicians to account or criticize governments, they may let some politician fall off the horse, some political party lose the election, or some government step down, but they will never fundamentally challenge, criticize or oppose their capitalist bosses and the capitalist system. The capitalist system is the true “garden” of capitalists. This is why the US mainstream media, who have bragged all along that “there is nothing they don’t supervise”, have not exposed and not issued warnings about the international financial crisis of the last few years, that was bred by the unlimited greed of Wall Street financial crocodiles, harmed the US and imperilled the entire world; this is why the US mainstream media believed that there “was no news value” when the “Occupy Wall Street” movement’s spearhead was directed at the profound abuses in the capitalist system, they ignored it, turned a deaf ear to it, touched on it lightly, with indifference and negativity. The “Occupy Wall Street” movement is a movement of the “99% against the 1%”. The “1%” that the “Occupy” movement opposes are the capital-monopolist groups that control the so-called “independent media”, the media are their mouthpieces and tools.
Westerners often say that media belonging to the state means a monopoly of power; in our view, privately run media can only be monopolized by capital and monopolized by money. Socialist countries cannot permit the privatization of media, this is a fundamental difference with the capitalist news system. In our country, all political parties, people’s organizations and other social organizations sponsor different news organs, each links up to a certain scope of the masses, there is both division of labour and cooperation, and competition as well, the social public opinion from all sides is broadly reflected, they jointly serve the people and serve Socialism. We believe that this sort of news system of ours, in comparison with privatized news systems, and in comparison with the media of monied men, is more beneficial to society, this is our news view and is the Socialist news view. Moreover, this is connected to our Party’s ideals. The Chinese Communist Party is a party representing the interests of the broadest people, which serves the people and is responsible to the people, these are the paramount ideals of our Party. The Party cannot permit that it becomes the representative of a minority, and it cannot permit that it has its own special interests. Therefore, the fact that the Party manages media benefits the media’s safeguarding of the interests of the country and the people.
II, The question of media freedom
Perhaps, the level of freedom of China’s traditional media, which mainly are Party newspapers, Party periodicals, radio and television reporting, must be somewhat smaller than the level of freedom of media in Western developed countries. The reasons creating this situation do not lie in news ideas or news structures, but lie in development stage in which the country is, and the problems it faces.
Starting from the Industrial Revolution in the UK, the modernization process of Western capitalist countries has a history of more than 200 years. Those 200 years have not been smooth sailing, in the mean time, innumerable economic crises, bouts of social turmoil and foreign invasions have occurred, also, two world wars have been triggered, bringing great catastrophe to humankind. But they have, in the end, established considerably complete and mature structures and systems in the long-term process of development, domestic stability is guaranteed by the legal system, and there is the support of social security systems. Although at present, Western countries are universally trapped in a deep crisis from which it is hard to free themselves, social order has generally remained stable. Even so, when the country faces risks in terms of security or stability, control will be tightened as well. A responsible person at the “Voice of America”, who violated the instructions of the US government and broadcast recordings of speeches by Bin Laden was dismissed; the recently exposed “Prism” incident indicates that the US government had already joined hands with US companies earlier, and implemented broad, close and secret inspection and control of citizens’ personal information. The West has realistically effective ideological confinements, mainstream ideologies and value systems are always revered as sacred and inviolable tenets, that must not be challenged or opposed, and everything that does not conform to mainstream ideology is seen as “politically incorrect”.
Risks in the areas of security and stability that China faces are clearly more than those of the US and larger than those of the US. China’s more than three decades of reform and opening up have, at the same time as creating a miracle in world development history, also experienced rapid social change and transformation, large amounts of social contradictions and problems have accumulated, these contradictions and problems have become revealed in a concentrated manner over recent years.
The Centre has repeatedly said that correct public opinion guidance is the happiness of the Party and the people, and mistaken public opinion is a calamity of the Party and the people, this is the conclusion gained from practice, experience and lessons. Since the 4th Plenum of the 13th Party Committee, our Party has strengthened guidance and management over propaganda and public opinion work, which has brought about more than 20 continuous year of stable and rapid development progress. The background of this phenomenon certainly contains regularities and things that cannot be shifted by people’s wills.
In China’s current phase, the consequences of a loss of control of public opinion cannot be accepted. It should be considered that the development process of our country has already reached a new phase, Chinese society’s capacity to adapt itself to diversified ideologies and public opinion has already greatly strengthened. But at the same time, it should be considered that at the current stage, China is in a period of development opportunity and manifold contradictions, the tasks for reform, development and stability remain arduous and onerous; all levels’ government organs’ management levels and the overall quality of cadre teams is still not high, it is difficult to adapt to the challenges brought about by excessive public opinion openness. excessive public opinion criticism may harm government credibility and impair government administration; domestic and foreign hostile forces’ schemes to bring chaos to China, Westernize and divide China will not change from beginning to end. Under such circumstances, if the public opinion environment is opened excessively, without interference, grave consequences cannot be avoided.
What may be affirmed is that, following the development progress of the country and following the progressive perfection, maturing and finalization of structures in all areas, the level of freedom of Chinese news media will incessantly expand. In fact, this process is continuously developing.
III, The issue of news reporting policy
Our Party requires that news media persist in the policy of giving first place to positive propaganda, some people do not consider this to be right, and even have contradicting emotions.
Truth, objectivity and fairness are the norms for news work that are generally recognized in news circles in all countries worldwide, but different news views have different understanding of their meaning. We believe that truth must mean the unification of factual truth, general truth and fundamental truth; objectivity, is using facts to speak, persuade people and guide people through the force of facts themselves; fairness is standing on the standpoint of the fundamental interests of the broadest people, and is not standing on the standpoint of individual and group interests, farness is selflessly reporting facts and publishing comments, it is a responsibility towards the people and towards society.
Why must our media give first place to positive propaganda? That is because vigorous and positive facts are the mainstream of our society, negative and adverse things are the tributary, only by giving first place to positive propaganda is it possible to truly reflect the essence and complete picture of this society of ours. This is our news view, this is a sort of news view that seeks truth from facts.
Seeking truth from facts means seeing the truth as the life of news. It is not only necessary to truly and correctly report individual fact, but furthermore, it is necessary to truly grasp and reflect the complete picture of events from the macro-level, and pursue the truth of individual events under the precondition of the general truth. Real life is complex, and without a general understanding of things, but by letting the trivial overshadow views, by not seeing Mount Tai, grasping one point but not touching upon the rest, even if this one thing or one point truly exists, in terms of the general, this may deviate from truthfulness. Persisting in seeking truth from facts also requires us to strive to reveal the factors that trigger and develop news facts, revealing the inherent linkages between and development trends of facts, and guiding people to understand the essence and rules of events. This is the basic viewpoint and basic requirement of the Marxist news view concerning the issue of truthfulness of news.
Some people say that no one watches or listens to the positive propaganda of mainstream media, but in fact, positive propaganda is just like air and sunshine, its benefits are unconscious, its loss is hard to bear. Without the unwavering persistence in positive propaganda by mainstream media, it would be impossible to maintain stability in the larger picture of our country and society. Indeed, negative news panders to the curious mentality of people, and naturally is more attractive than positive news, media pursue negative news under conditions of extreme market orientations, but this is not our news view. The Socialist news view stresses putting social effect first, when the two effects are contradictory, market effect must submit to social effect.
Naturally, our news view must also integrate and unify the truth, objectivity and fairness of news with correctness, clarity and vivacity, and when truly reporting facts, with clear banners propagate the standpoint, viewpoint and position of the Party and the people, in order to gain the best propaganda effects through vivid reporting forms.
Persisting in giving first place to positive propaganda does not exclude public opinion supervision. Public opinion supervision is the supervision by the popular masses through news media over State and social affairs, and is an important form of the popular masses exercising their democratic rights. The media’s public opinion supervision has an important stimulating function with regards to ideas of proper governance by government and raising administration levels and capacities, and is very necessary to maintain high public opinion pressure on all sorts of negative and corrupt phenomena. The essence of public opinion supervision is supervision by the popular masses. There are two especially important points in the media’s launching of public opinion supervision: one is political standpoint. Only by firmly standing on the standpoint of the fundamental interests of the country and the people, is it possible to truthfully and correctly reflect the opinions and calls of the popular masses, objectively and fairly report on facts and public comments, and consciously consider social effect. Second is the ideological methods. When looking at problems, writing articles and giving comment, it is absolutely necessary to start from reality. We must not only think about “how to look at things”, we must also think about “how to do thing”; we must not only think about “is it correct” or “should we do it”, we must also think about “will it work” and “is it possible”. Only by thinking even more about problems of “dealing worth concrete matters”, will it be possible to understand the necessity of “dialectical views”, is it possible to seriously consider the complexity of real situations, and is it possible to understand the correctness of Central principles and policies.
In short, when discussing news view issues, the most important thing is rationality and pragmatism. If we truly hope that the country does well and the people do well, if this standpoint is unanimous, then we should consciously persist in the Marxist news view, and painstakingly safeguard the larger picture of national reform, opening up and stability.