Do ‘State-Owned’ Media Stand on the Opposite Side of the Public?

With the rapid development of technology and modern mass media, the internet inevitably has already stepped into everyone’s daily life. By December 2017, the first country with the highest number of internet users is China, which has more than 770 million (Internet World Stats,2017). According to Statistical Report on Internet Development in China, the main driving forces for netizens to use the internet are instant messaging, searching and online news, which all are over 82% (CNNIC,2018). In other words, people’s ways to get information and exchange message have been reformed to be more dependent on the internet. Thus, how the media of state or private affect the public becomes essential.

In Kelly Hu’s reading competition and collaboration: Chinese video websites, subtitle groups, state regulation and market, it defined how Chinese video websites develop actually equals to how they fight and invent for identity by themselves, in the context of the contemporary Chinese ‘market adjustment mechanisms’ and ‘state regulation’. According to the regulations, private media requires a license for their programs (Sennitt,2008), in other words, the government can operate not only the intervention of copyright issue, but supervision of the websites. Furthermore, websites are willing to or pretend to be the loyal supporters of the state’s control, and they seem to try their best to adapt to government’s demands rather than create their own views and chances to speak, which means that the stronger power of the state-owned online media is, the weaker the private one is.

However, it does not automatically mean that state-owned media and private media are in such a clear contract position. On the contrary, their relationships are more likely to be ambiguous, especially now almost everyone can be a carrier of private media. Most of the time they are complementary, and they are partners. In tradition, state-owned media is rigid, boring and a tool of political propaganda. That’s true as much first-hand information reported by state-owned media and it seems to spread positive news rather than reveal some negatives related to livelihood directly and immediately. As Tiffany said in her reading response,people should be skeptical and aware of the government’s purpose of centralizing power when they receive the information from state-owned media, which is the spokesman of the state. Actually, inside the state-owned media, there are some programs play a significant role as a ‘supervision by public opinion’. The outstanding programs of CCTV like the Focus Report, Oriental Horizon, and News Probe perform an in-depth reporting and reveal or supervise governments on behalf of the public (Zhao, Sun,2018). Today, there are so many online platforms appealing to people to act as a performer. For gaining the sense of achievement by attracting the audience, many people drop themselves to become a private media “owner”, even starting a new career–“Wanghong”, which is a group of online starlets (The Economist,2018).

On the other hand, the ease for everyone to be a transmitter, the complexity of the messages that they express probably is out of imagination. Everyone must have their own standpoints when they post something, causing different views or reports to the same thing, even totally conflict. It is not a bad thing, as people have chances to understand from various aspects, not just limiting on a small scale. But in terms of the reality, about the education situation in China, the biggest part of netizens just accepted junior high school education with nearly 38 percent (CNNIC,2018), which illustrated the educated level of netizens in China is still low. Out of this reason, most of the people lack the ability to analyze whether the message is correct, and be easily utilized by their emotion, no bias. Several days before, a bus in Chongqing fell into a river with 15 deaths could be a miserable but warning experience. At first, many private media reported that happened because of a woman driver retrograded on the road and then made a traffic collision with the evidence which is just the video of the scene after the accident. Later, lots of netizens condemned the driver and even personal abused, although the woman driver said this was not her fault. At that time, the public opinion showed the preference for one side. However, it changed so fast. After the salvage of the bus, state-owned media post the CCTV video on the bus, and it demonstrated that the reason of the fall was the clash between a passenger and the bus driver, and the women driver is also a victim in this tragedy. The cyber-violence, this is what obvious in network communication in China now. On that point, state-owned media has a unified standard, and they are highly possible to publish the news depending on authoritative sources.

In conclusion, it is irrational to distinguish which one is completely beneficial and which one is harmful. As human’s psychology are diverse and sometimes the spread of message is tricky, I think it’s more difficult for people to shape an objective understanding between the official news and the private information. At this time, probably what we should think about is how we deal with the different information with our own analysis and researching rather than trusting which media.



A History of Journalism and Communication in China by Zhao, Sun (107):



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