Comprehensive media listing 媒体整体上市

On October 17, 2007, Liu Binjie (柳斌杰), top minister at China’s primary agency for regulation and control of print media, the General Administration of Press and Publications (GAPP), told the official Guangming Daily and international newspapers including the Financial Times that he encouraged public listing by publishing companies (出版机构), newspaper groups (报业企业) and core official news websites (官方骨干新闻类网站) — moreover, he said, such companies would no longer be obliged to list only their business sides (circulation, advertising, etc.), leaving the editorial side private.
The term “comprehensive media listing” (媒体整体上市) was born.
Just over a week later, on October 25, Guangdong’s Southern Weekend ran an editorial praising Liu Binjie’s announcement, saying comprehensive media public listings “mean that media system reforms in China are entering a new phase”, and that such listings “would be greatly beneficial to safeguarding the public’s right to expression (保障公民的表达权), the media’s right to conduct watchdog journalism (媒体的舆论监督权), and the fostering of democratic politics across China (发育整个中国的民主政治).”
On November 20, 2007, one month after Liu’s announcement, an initial public offering (IPO) by Liaoning Publishing & Media Company Limited (辽宁出版传媒股份有限公司) was approved by the China Securities Regulatory Commission, becoming the first Chinese media company to list both its business and editorial sides.
This was a sharp departure from previous Chinese media listings, including B-Ray Media (博瑞传播/600880), CCID Media (赛迪传媒/00504), Beijing Media Corporation Limited (北青传媒), Huawen Media (华闻传媒/000793), Xinhua Media (新华传媒/600825) and others.
On November 24, 2007, Southern Metropolis Weekend magazine published an interview with media expert Yu Guoming (喻国明) in which the professor said: “Market mechanisms are for more democratic in nature and suitable to the needs of society than administrative mechanisms — this fact is already beyond question. So I believe that if we employ market mechanisms we will see marked improvements in the efficiency, balance and free flow of information in China.”

Civilized creation [and management] of the Web 文明办网

In a sign that the Internet was becoming an increasing focus of propaganda controls in China, President Hu Jintao launched a movement in March 2006 for the creation of a “civilized” Internet.
The campaign dovetailed that spring with the party’s latest moral/political crusade, which went ahead under the banner of “eight honors and eight disgraces” (or “the socialist view of honor and shame”). A companion term was “civilized going online” (文明上网), referring to the individual role of the Web user in achieving a “civilized” Web.
Kowtowing to Hu’s policy statement on April 9, 2006, fourteen leading Web portals in the Chinese market, including US-based Yahoo, issued a joint proposal for a “civilized” Internet, free of so-called false and indecent content. State media predictably hailed the united front as a major breakthrough for social morals in the country and a key component of Hu Jintao’s vision of a “Harmonious Society”. Beijing Youth Daily put the headline in bold directly under its frontpage banner: “14 Websites Propose Civilized Operation of the Web”. A subhead directly below pointed readers to an editorial in Beijing Daily, the official mouthpiece of top city leaders in the capital, which said: “We believe that through the united effort of society, and with the continued cleansing of the online environment, the idea of operating and using the Web in a civilized way will become the dominant practice. The Internet will then truly become an important place for publicizing scientific theory, broadcasting advanced culture, creating beautiful spirit, promoting all that is just and honorable in society and correctly guiding public opinion.”
While much of the publicity surrounding the policy focused on its role in combating pornography and other “indecent” content, the reference to “guidance of public opinion” revealed the terms close connection with overall Internet censorship.

Web culture with Chinese characteristics 中国特色网络文化

In a speech on April 23, 2007, Chinese President Hu Jintao called for the “glorious development of “Web Culture with Chinese Characteristics”.
The emergence of this new term, which had not hitherto appeared in the Chinese media, marked the coming of age of Hu Jintao’s political vision for the Chinese internet — essentially a commercially vigorous Web kept firmly under party control. The term now subsumes other internet-related buzzwords, like “civilized Web management” (文明办网) and “civilized Web use” (文明上网), which came onto the scene in March 2006.
In his April 23 speech, Hu emphasized that “all units disseminating culture must work hard to raise the ability [of China] to produce online cultural products with a harmonious spirit, which sing for truth, goodness and beauty, and are welcomed by the masses.” “Online cultural units,” said Hu, referring to Websites and other new media platforms, must “spread the civilized (网络文明) Web trend on a large scale, and deepening the movement of civilized creation of the Web and civilized use of the Web (文明办网/文明上网).

Investigative reporting 调查性报导

Many professional journalists in China look to reporting of the Watergate scandal in the United States as the ultimate example of a professional press at work. Likewise, they see the “investigative report” as the “most comprehensive test of a journalist’s level of professionalism”, and the accomplishment of such a report as the “apex” of a life’s work in journalism.
The dawn of the investigative report as an object of desire for professional Chinese journalists came in the 1990s, as China Central Television launched its “News Probe” investigative news program and Southern Weekend devoted substantial resources to investigative reports and established the first “investigative” newspaper section.
At the same time, there appeared in China a group of “investigative reporters” who werrelatively well known by the public (Wang Keqin, Liu Chang, Lu Yuegang). Still, investigative reporters in China face substantial obstacles, including the party censorship apparatus, commercial pressures and threats to their personal safety.
According to many accounts, investigative reporting (generally carried out under the banner of “watchdog journalism“) has faced increased challenges under the leadership of President Hu Jintao. Some reporters say even internal references, sensitive news reports not published but circulated among party leaders, have been subjected to tighter controls.

Media independence 媒体的独立性

The current press structure in China is fundamentally fused with the organizational structure of the ruling Communist Party, and media are extensions of various bureaucratic branches of the party and/or government. Under such a state of affairs, one can imagine the level of sensitivity accorded the notion of “media independence”. The term therefore generally does not appear in publications or publicly circulated articles.
However, in the warming intellectual climate of the early to mid 1980s, scholars in China began raising the idea that the press should have “relative independence” (相对的独立性) or “formal independence” (形式上的独立). In May 1981, Sun Xupei, a key force behind the push for media reform and freedom of speech within the socialist system throughout the decade leading up to the Tiananmen Massacre, wrote in Investigations of Press Theory (新闻理论探讨): “When we talk about socialist freedom of speech, this means the media must certainly accept monitoring by the people, by the party and by the law. [We will] persist in the socialist project, [we will] persist in serving the masses. At the same time, [we must] allow the press relative independence, permitting [them] a freedom that cannot be violated both within the scope of the law and the [political] system.”
As China entered the 21st century, a number of journalists and scholars felt that media commercialization might push the country toward more independent media. In response, Qian Gang, former chief editor of Southern Weekend, warned that: “Journalism should be independent — it should not serve neither official power nor the interests of capital.” Zhan Jiang, a professor of journalism at China Youth University for Political Science, has also, employing the work of Jurgen Habermas, written of the “re-feudalization” of Chinese media — a dirty pact between official and business interests — as a result of the push to commercialize.

Credibility 公信力

In the late 1990s, media professionals in mainland China began to more frequently employ the term “credibility”, first introduced from Hong Kong and Taiwan. The term appeared early on as a slogan among commercial media. Southern Weekend, a commercial spin-off of the official Nanfang Daily in China’s southern Guangdong Province, for example, advertised itself as “China’s largest-circulation, heftiest, most credible and most influential comprehensive weekly, and the country’s most important newspaper (中国发行量最大、版数最多、公信力最强、影响最广的综合性周报,也是中国最重要的报纸).”
In the beginning, the term “credibility” was connected with the goal of objective reporting independent of outside (and government) influences. As media commercialization picked up pace, it became more closely connected with the question of the “professional integrity of the press” and “press corruption” (a side-effect of commercialization under state control). The term has frequently surfaced in debates surrounding cases of press corruption, in which “the quality of credibility” (公信力品质) has been pitted against the “profit motive” (利润最大化).

Idealism (of media professionals) (传媒人的)理想主义

On June 13, 2003, China Youth Daily reporter Lu Yuegang published a public letter online addressing a speech given on May 24 that year to top newspaper cadres by Zhao Yong (赵勇), secretary of the standing committee of the Chinese Communist Youth League, publisher of the newspaper. In his letter, Lu Yuegang said Zhao’s speech was “full of sermonizing, intimidation and ignorance.” Summarized, Zhao Yong’s three main points had been: 1) whoever doesn’t fall in line with the CCYL will be sent packing, 2) China Youth Daily is a publication of the CCYL, not an ‘abstract major newspaper’ [in other words, not a professional journalistic enterprise], and 3) the newspaper could not operate on the principle of “idealism”.
For more than a century the tradition of press professionals in China has held that “the responsibility of defending the nation lies with the people” (天下兴亡,匹夫有责). This sense of idealism and purpose could be seen in the Shiwubao (时务报) of the late Qing Dynasty (19th and early 20th centuries), in the Ta Kung Pao of the Republican Period. For more than a half century, the news industry in China was colored strongly with a sense of justice and social conscience. Economic reforms in the 1980s brought the reemergence of this sense of idealism among the generation of journalists who had experienced the Anti-Rightist Movement of the 1950s and the Cultural Revolution. China Youth Daily was home to a number of such journalists, including Lu Yuegang and Li Datong.
In the preface to Zan Aizong’s book The Fourth Estate [Introduction to Zan at Independent Chinese Pen Center], Lu Yuegang explains “idealism” in the following way: “All editors and reporters will face these sorts of questions – Why do we interview and write? What are our basic rights and interests? In our social environment, whose interests does public opinion serve? In what way can we carry out objective and impartial reporting? In what way can we get nearer social truths? In a normal social environment these questions don’t constitute questions, or merely become questions of technique. But for us [Chinese] they are question we cannot turn away from. Some people say I’m an ‘idealist’. An idealist’s action is characterized by ‘acting for something even if you know that thing is nearly impossible’, and in the process drawing the attention of the world. Strictly speaking, I’m not that kind of idealist. Rather, my standard for idealism is ‘keeping truth as one’s creed even if it means losing one’s head’, basically not hesitating to shed blood or lose one’s head for some belief or concept about which you are determined.”

Supervision by public opinion 舆论监督

“Supervision by public opinion”, sometimes also translated “watchdog journalism”, has featured strongly in discussions of the role of media and press freedom in China since the late 1980s. In some cases the term can be used, particularly by proponents of an independent and professional press, as a stand-in term for “press freedom”, which is itself used only very cautiously by Chinese media (usually only in pejorative references to “Western press freedom”). Seeing the term as a Chinese cognate of Western “watchdog journalism,” they envision news media operating as a fourth estate, casting light on social, political and economic problems in China.
But “supervision by public opinion” has also been used frequently by officials in China to talk about the role of news media – under state control – in uncovering issues of official corruption and abuse of power on a range of issues, particularly at lower levels of the bureaucracy. At the Thirteenth National Congress of the CPC in 1987, party leaders said in their official report that news and propaganda tools (宣传工具) [i.e., official news media] should “serve a watchdog role (发挥舆论监督作用), supporting the criticisms of the public and [targeting] errors and shortcomings [in government work], opposing bureaucratism, and struggling against various unhealthy tendencies (不正之风).”
In the official view, this “supervision by public opinion” must be subject to the overarching political demands of party leaders. Since 1989 the term has stood in tension with the cardinal control concept of “guidance of public opinion”.
On January 24, 1994, then President Jiang Zemin said in addressing a national forum on propaganda work that “supervision by public opinion should have an eye toward assisting with the forward work of the party and the government in resolving real issues, promoting unity among the people and safeguarding social stability.”

Mouthpiece 喉舌

The term “mouthpiece” has been used to describe Party media since the founding of the Chinese Communist Party. At Yan’an, the Liberation Daily described itself as “the Party’s mouthpiece, the mouthpiece of this great collective.” “We comrades who work at the newspaper are just one part of the Party organization,” the paper said, “but we must all, as one a body united, act according to the Party’s will. Each word and line, each character and sentence, must take the Party into consideration” (see “The Party and Party Papers”/”The Press Theory of the Liberation Daily”, Selections From Chinese Journalism History, Zhang Zhihua, editor, China People’s University Press, 1999, pg. 257). During a November 28, 1989, seminar on journalism, Jiang Zemin said, “Our country’s newspapers, broadcast and television are all the mouthpieces of the Party, the government and the people. This should be sufficient to explain the character of [Chinese] journalism and its important place in the work of the Party and the nation”. In an address following an inspection tour of China Central Television’s investigative program “News Probe” on October 7, 1998, State Council Premier Zhu Rongji offered the epigraph: “Supervisor of public opinion (舆论监督), mouthpiece of the masses, mirror of government, pioneer of reform.” This marked the first time “mouthpiece” had been used alone in this context, as “mouthpiece of the masses.” Zhu’s usage did not enter the canon of Party terms, however, and the official usage remains as “mouthpiece of the Party and the people.”

Eight Honors and Eight Disgraces 八荣八耻

The latest policy buzzword to hit China’s political scene in March 2006, “Eight Honors and Eight Disgraces” encapsulates Hu Jintao’s effort to carry out a campaign of moral rectification, improving the overall behavior of people at all levels of Chinese society. Mostly for political show, the policy is designed to mollify Leftist elements within the Party who have spoken out against the excesses brought on by China’s commercialization drive. The first reference to the term came on March 4 as Hu made a speech on “Socialist honor and grace” to the Chinese Political Consultative Conference. On March 6, China’s top propaganda official, politburo member Li Changchun, called on all levels of Chinese society to implement the “spirit” of Hu Jintao’s policy speech in order to “form the stable moral basis for a Socialist harmonious society”. Hu Jintao listed the “Eight Honors and Disgraces” as follows: “Loving the Mother Country is honorable, harming the Mother Country is disgraceful; Serving the People is honorable, neglecting the People is disgraceful; Upholding science is honorable, blindness and ignorance are disgraceful; Hard work is honorable, idleness disgraceful; Unity and cooperation are honorable, using others for profit is disgraceful; Honesty and keeping one’s word are honorable, seeing personal gain and forgetting justice is disgraceful; Respecting laws and regulations is honorable, disobeying laws and regulations is disgraceful; Suffering for the struggle is honorable, conceit and lasciviousness are disgraceful”.