Social Benefit First 社会效益第一

Chinese media have gradually moved into the marketplace since the 1990s, even as the Communist Party continues to exercise controls over that market (specifying, for example, the scope of coverage for particular magazines and controlling appointments to top editorial positions). Under these new conditions, publicity departments (the Central Propaganda Department, GAPP, SARFT) put forward the “key principle” of “placing social benefit at the forefront, working to realize the unification of social benefit and economic benefit” (“把社会效益放在首位,努力实现社会效益和经济效益的统一”). This new principle, more about the interests of the Party than the public, emphasized the following:
Under the conditions of the market economy non-material cultural products (精神文化产品) are also commodities, but they are a special kind of commodity (特殊的商品). Journalists (or news workers/新闻工作者) must “earnestly and strictly” consider the social consequences of their own works.
Under the conditions of the market economy, attention must be paid to economic benefit in the production of non-material cultural products, and trends that do not take economic benefits into consideration or do not envision economic development must be avoided; the trend of superficial pursuit of the “selling point” that overlooks social benefit must also be opposed.
For those media which are important to the Party and nation, the country will provide policy and fiscal support.
(Source: “马克思主义新闻观和党的新闻工作方针原则”, “新闻战线”/News Frontline, May 2004)

David Bandurski

Now director of the CMP, leading the project’s research and partnerships, David joined the team in 2004 after completing his master’s degree at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. He is currently an honorary lecturer at the Journalism and Media Studies Centre. He is the author of Dragons in Diamond Village (Penguin/Melville House), a book of reportage about urbanization and social activism in China, and co-editor of Investigative Journalism in China (HKU Press).