By David Bandurski — The CCP’s top theoretical minds continue to churn out lengthy treatises on Hu Jintao’s more hands-on new orthodoxy on news and propaganda, what we have called Control 2.0. Most of these writings are pure mimicry, craven displays of allegiance to CCP policyspeak. But there are occasionally fresh ideas.
This week, for example, policy wonks from the northeastern province of Heilongjiang openly advocated more active government support for major web portals, including “those commercial websites with massive traffic.”
In an article from Guangming Daily posted on numerous sites, including People’s Daily Online, Netease and China Journalism Review, three writers from the Heilongjiang Research Center for Socialism with Chinese Characteristics (黑龙江省中国特色社会主义理论研究中心) began by replaying the dominant CCP thesis about the changing nature of news and propaganda in today’s world.
They wrote about the importance of “guidance of public opinion” (echoing Hu’s “blessing and misfortune” formula in which press control is good for everyone) and the threat posed by “hostile Western forces”:

Historical experience has repeatedly taught us that correct guidance of public opinion is a blessing for the people, and incorrect guidance of public opinion brings misfortune to the people. In the world today there is more frequent exchange, mingling and clashing of cultures, the infiltration of the ideological sphere by hostile Western forces is more obvious, and the struggle has grown more fierce in the news and public opinion domain . . .

After a fairly typical recitation of the dramatic changes and challenges to news and propaganda work brought on the advent of new media, the researchers offered a basic bullet list of recommendations.
We’ve seen most of these before. Things like the need to “strengthen the professional behavior and political-ideological training of news and propaganda workers so they can work actively to channel public opinion toward the positive . . . “
Then came the section on putting full energies into the “building of popular comprehensive portal websites”:

As for new media, the most pressing matter of the moment is to give priority support to and create strong, popular comprehensive Web portal sites with widespread influence and strong vitality. The government should consider employing funding and policy means to bring those local news websites with broad audiences and influence, and even those mass traffic commercial website, under the range of their support. In this way, they can create strong news websites or online news channels [within sites] that “the government can control and netizens can trust,” using these as bases for the transmission of the mainstream [CCP] voice and better lead and guide public opinion.

This is fairly typical Control 2.0 thinking about “guiding” and influencing the media, and it recalls Hu Jintao’s speech to propaganda leaders in January 2007 about the need not just to “control” (管理) but to “use” (利用) commercial websites in China — and of course his language in the June 20, 2008, speech about using the “resources” of commercial media.
For years in China, a gap was widening between the coverage and influence of commercial media and CCP mouthpieces — the “x dailies” — with damaging consequences for the party’s project of “guiding public opinion.”
Now, clearly, CCP leaders are working to close that gap.
[Posted by David Bandurski, December 4, 2009, 10:32am HK]

David Bandurski

CMP Director

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