Monday, July 25, 2011

Old formulas shape foreign coverage of China

An article in today's Chinese press looks at how the western media reports on issues and events in China.

One has to agree with the tenet of the article in that  western coverage of events and issues generally tends to be formulaic, cliché ridden and seemingly intent on showing all that is wrong with China.

Most, not all, in the media feel that criticising China makes for better "press" than reporting on China in a balanced and constructive way and, unfortunately, they are right in terms of getting reader's attention.

A headline with "One Child" in it makes better press than one that says "Population policy" The term "restive region" is so overused that it is an embarrassment and it is a catch all phrase by a reporter who really has not got a clue what is going on in the so called "Restive region".

But it is a demand driven industry. The reader demands to know everything that is bad about China. As a tweeter I see it everyday. I try as much as possible to present links that that are topical and balanced. If the China Daily writes an article praising the government for something that it has done I will pass that on to my followers. If it publishes an article that is wrong or full of Chinaspeak and propaganda I will attempt to point that out, though,  I am sure my readers can sort the wheat from the chafe of their own accord. But in saying that a 'link direct' to a story that paints China in a poor light does get more hits than a true, feel good piece.

That is what journalism is about getting and maintaining readership. The editor wants to sell 'papers' and the "Joe Blow" in the street does not want to know what is good about China only what is bad. Therein is the sad part.

The system for journalists, the real ones that is, is stacked against them.

Old formulas shape foreign coverage of China