Consciously Persist in the Marxist News View

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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.

自觉坚持马克思主义新闻观
新闻观是关于新闻现象、新闻活动的总体看法和根本观点。我们党主张用马克思主义新闻观指导新闻工作实践,这在当前有很强的现实针对性。本文就大家关注的几个问题谈一些看法。

一、新闻体制问题

总有人认为中国的新闻体制不好,主张中国实行西方那样的新闻体制。

新闻具有双重属性:一是新闻传播属性,二是意识形态属性。前者是一般属性,后者是特殊属性。西方新闻观刻意强调新闻的一般属性,竭力掩盖新闻的意识形态属性。马克思主义新闻观则从来不隐瞒自己的政治立场和倾向,强调新闻的党性。

为什么说新闻有意识形态属性?新闻是对事实的报道,同时又是观念的产物。因为事实并没有价值特征,但新闻在报道事实时必然包含着对事实的评价,反映着价值观的差异。同样一件事,不同的媒体,报道可能很不相同。“用事实说话”是新闻最主要的特征,新闻把报道者的倾向寓于对事实的客观报道之中,表达的往往是一种“无形的意见”。

因此,新闻有着很强的意识形态属性,新闻事业属于上层建筑。在社会上层建筑中,政治思想、政治制度居于核心地位,影响和制约着上层建筑的其他组成部分,包括新闻事业。任何社会的新闻活动,都要受到这个社会占统治地位的政治思想及国家政治制度的指导和制约。政治体制决定着新闻体制,新闻体制是政治体制的重要方面。

中国为什么不能实行西方的新闻体制?答案其实很简单:中国是社会主义国家,政治制度、经济制度都和西方不同,新闻体制又怎么会一样?

西方新闻体制就是所谓“独立媒体”的体制。“独立媒体”就是私人所有的媒体。西方新闻观认为,只有独立媒体才能免受政府和政党控制,保持政治上的中立,秉持“客观报道”,成为“社会公器”。这样一种理念,在西方社会影响深远。西方批评中国的新闻体制,很重要的一点就是批评中国没有独立媒体。

“独立媒体”反映的正是西方资本主义新闻体制的要害。办媒体是要花钱的,只有有钱人才可能办媒体,只有大资本家、大财团才可能办大媒体。事实也正是如此,那些在世界新闻业界举足轻重、在国际传播领域呼风唤雨,对世界政治、经济和思想文化施加着巨大影响的最有权势的西方大媒体,其实都掌控在极少数不为公众熟知的家族手中。美国《华尔街日报》、福克斯广播公司、英国《泰晤士报》等属于鲁伯特·默多克的新闻集团;美国哥伦比亚广播公司、派拉蒙电视集团以及MTV电视网,归属萨默·雷石东家族掌控的维亚康姆集团;全球最大的图书出版商企鹅兰登书屋、欧洲最大的电视广播公司RTL集团、欧洲最大的杂志出版公司古纳雅尔,为摩恩家族的贝塔斯曼集团所有;美国苏兹伯格家族控制的纽约时报公司旗下有《纽约时报》和《国际先驱论坛报》,格雷厄姆家族掌握着《华盛顿邮报》,《洛杉矶时报》则长期被钱德勒家族控制;英国汤姆逊家族掌握着全球四大通讯社之一的路透社,英国《金融时报》、《经济学人》杂志和拥有欧洲最大电视网络的培生电视集团同属于皮尔逊家族旗下,英国《卫报》则一直控制在斯科特家族手中;美国全国广播公司被通用电气收购,后者被摩根财团控制;美国有线电视公司(CNN)的后台老板是时代华纳,而时代华纳的11位董事会成员几乎都是投资银行、跨国企业、传媒机构的高管和前政府高官;拥有美国广播公司等媒体的另一传媒巨头迪斯尼集团,其董事会成员包括了宝洁、维萨、谷歌、星巴克等多家大企业前任或现任高管。如此盘根错节的权力图谱,构成了西方传媒业的真实图景。

“独立媒体”可以独立于政府、独立于政党,却不可能独立于资本。媒体可以“独立”地问责政客、指摘政党、批评政府,可以让某位政客落马、某个政党败选、某届政府下台,但它们绝对不会从根本上去质疑、批评、反对资本家老板和资本主义制度。资本主义制度,是资本家的真正“家园”。这就是为什么对近些年这场由华尔街金融大鳄们的贪婪无度酿成的国际金融危机,一向以“无所不在的监督”自诩的美国主流媒体居然既无揭露又无预警,致使这场危机为害美国、祸及全球的原因;这就是为什么当“占领华尔街”运动的矛头指向资本主义制度深层弊端时,美国主流媒体居然认为这“没有新闻价值”,视若无睹、充耳不闻、轻描淡写、冷漠消极的原因。“占领华尔街”运动是“99%反抗1%”的运动。“占领”运动所反对的“1%”,正是掌控着所谓“独立媒体”的垄断资本集团,媒体是他们的喉舌和工具。

西方人常说,媒体属于国家所有,就是权力垄断;在我们看来,私人办媒体,只能是资本垄断、金钱垄断。社会主义国家不会允许新闻媒体私有化,这是与资本主义新闻体制的根本区别。在我们国家,各个政党、人民团体和其他社会组织举办不同的新闻机构,各自联系一定范围的群众,既有分工,又有合作,也有竞争,广泛反映各方面社会舆论,共同为人民服务、为社会主义服务。我们认为,我们这种新闻体制,比起私有化的新闻体制,比起有钱人办媒体,对社会更有利,这就是我们的新闻观,是社会主义新闻观。这又与我们党的理念相联系。中国共产党是一个代表最广大人民利益的党,为人民服务、对人民负责,是我们党至高无上的理念。党不允许成为某些利益集团的代表,不允许成为少数人的代表,不允许有自己的特殊利益。所以,党管媒体更有利于媒体维护国家和人民利益。

二、新闻自由度问题

也许,现在中国的传统媒体,主要是党报党刊、电台电视台报道的自由度,要比西方发达国家媒体的自由度小一些。造成这种状况的原因,并不在于新闻理念、新闻体制,而在于国家所处的发展阶段和所面临的问题。

从英国工业革命算起,西方资本主义国家的现代化进程已经有200多年历史。这200多年并非一路顺风,期间发生了无数次的经济危机、社会动荡和对外侵略,还引发了两次世界大战,给人类带来浩劫。但它们在长期发展过程中毕竟建立起相对完备、成熟的制度体系,国内的稳定既有法制保障,又有社会福利体系支撑。虽然目前西方国家普遍深陷危机难以自拔,但社会秩序依然总体保持稳定。即便如此,当国家面临安全上、稳定上的风险时,控制也会收紧。“美国之音”一位负责人,曾因违反美国政府的指令播放本·拉登的讲话录音而被撤职;最近曝出的“棱镜门”事件表明,美国政府早就在与美国公司联手,对公民个人信息实施广泛、严密的秘密监控。西方有着切实有效的意识形态禁锢,主流意识形态和价值观从来都被奉为神圣不可侵犯的信条,容不得质疑和反对,凡不符合主流意识形态的就被视为“政治不正确”。

中国面临的安全、稳定方面的风险显然要比美国多、比美国大。中国30多年的改革开放,在创造了世界发展史上奇迹的同时,也经历了急剧的社会变革和转型,积累了大量社会矛盾和问题,这些矛盾和问题近年来正集中地凸现出来。

中央反复讲,舆论导向正确,是党和人民之福,舆论导向错误,是党和人民之祸,这是从事实和经验教训中得出的结论。十三届四中全会以来,我们党加强了对宣传舆论工作的领导和管理,带来的是持续20多年的平稳快速发展和进步。这种现象的背后,一定有不以人的意志为转移的规律性东西。

现阶段的中国,承受不了舆论失控的后果。应该看到,我国的发展进步已经达到一个新的阶段,中国社会对思想舆论多样化的承受力已大大增强。但同时也要看到,现阶段的中国正处于发展机遇期和矛盾多发期,改革发展稳定的任务依然艰巨而繁重;各级政府机关的管理水平和干部队伍的整体素质还不高,很难适应舆论过度开放带来的挑战,舆论的过度批评会损害政府威信、妨害政府施政;境内外敌对势力搞乱中国、西化分化中国的图谋始终没有改变。在这样的情况下,如果放任舆论环境过度开放,将不可避免地带来严重后果。

可以肯定的是,随着国家的发展进步,随着各方面制度的逐步完善、成熟和定型,中国新闻媒体的自由度将不断扩大。事实上,这个进程一直在发展。

三、新闻报道方针问题

我们党要求新闻媒体坚持正面宣传为主的方针,有些人对此不以为然,甚至有抵触情绪。

真实、客观、公正,是世界各国新闻界公认的新闻工作准则,但是不同的新闻观,对其内涵有着不同的理解。我们认为,真实,必须是事实的真实、总体的真实、本质的真实的统一;客观,就是用事实说话,通过事实本身的力量来说服人、引导人;公正,就是站在最广大人民根本利益的立场,而不是站在个人和小团体利益的立场,公正无私地报道事实和发表评论,对人民负责,对社会负责。

为什么我们的媒体要以正面宣传为主?那是因为,积极、正面的事物是我们社会的主流,消极、负面的东西是支流,坚持正面宣传为主才能真实反映我们这个社会的本质和全貌。这就是我们的新闻观,是一种实事求是的新闻观。

实事求是,就是要把真实视为新闻的生命。不仅要真实、准确地报道单个事实,而且要从宏观上真实地把握和反映事物的全貌,在总体真实的前提下去追求单个事实的真实。现实生活是复杂的,离开对事物的总体认识,一叶障目、不见泰山,抓住一点、不及其余,尽管这一叶、这一点确实存在,但从总体上看却可能背离了真实性。坚持实事求是还要求我们努力揭示新闻事实发生发展的原因,揭示事物之间的内在联系和发展趋势,引导人们认识事物的本质和规律。这是马克思主义新闻观在新闻真实性问题上的基本观点、基本要求。

有人说主流媒体的正面宣传没人看、没人听,其实,正面宣传犹如空气和阳光,受益而不觉,失之则难存。没有主流媒体坚持不懈的正面宣传,我国社会大局不可能保持稳定。确实,负面新闻迎合人们的好奇心理,天然地比正面新闻更有吸引力,在极端市场取向下媒体会追逐负面新闻,但那不是我们的新闻观。社会主义新闻观强调社会效益第一,当两个效益发生矛盾时,市场效益要服从社会效益。

当然,我们的新闻观还要求把新闻的真实、客观、公正同准确、鲜明、生动结合起来、统一起来,在准确报道事实的同时,旗帜鲜明地宣传党和人民的立场、观点和主张,通过生动的报道形式赢得最好的宣传效果。

坚持正面宣传为主并不排斥舆论监督。舆论监督是人民群众通过新闻媒体对国家和社会事务的监督,是人民群众行使民主权利的一种重要形式。媒体的舆论监督对于政府端正执政理念、提高施政水平和能力有重要促进作用,对各种消极腐败现象保持舆论高压也很必要。舆论监督的实质,是人民群众的监督。媒体开展舆论监督有两点特别重要:一是政治立场。只有坚定站在国家和人民根本利益的立场,才可能真实、正确地反映人民群众的意见和呼声,客观、公正地报道事实和发表评论,自觉考虑社会效果。二是思想方法。看问题、写文章、发议论,一定要从实际出发。不仅要想“怎么看”,更要想“怎么办”;不仅要想“对不对”、“该不该”,更要想“行不行”、“能不能”。只有更多地想一想“务实办”的问题,才可能懂得“辩证看”的必要性,才会认真考虑实际情况的复杂性,才会理解中央方针政策的正确性。

总之,讨论新闻观问题,最重要的是理性务实。我们如果真的希望国家好、人民好,如果这个立场一致,那就应该自觉坚持马克思主义新闻观,精心维护国家改革发展稳定的大局。

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