Wednesday, 21 December 2016

So where did you say your news was coming from?

An interesting snippet from Australian Newspaper History Group, Newsletter, No 90, December 2016, pp.

90.1.3 China (1): Supplement to SMH and Age

On 23 September both the Sydney Morning Herald and the Age carried an eight-page supplement entitled China Watch, which contained China news and views.
The supplement clearly indicated that it had been prepared by the China Daily and that there had been no editorial involvement by the Sydney Morning Herald and Age.
This follows a precedent where in recent years the Sydney Morning Herald and the Age have regularly carried similar sponsored supplements containing news and views of Russia.

90.1.4 China (2): Australian media

Yan Xia, the editor of Vision China Times, a Chinese-language newspaper published in Australia, says a Beijing-based immigration agency was forced to pull an advertisement from his paper because it was regarded as an “anti-China” paper (Australian, 10 October 2016). The Ministry of State Security, the agency in charge of counter-intelligence and political security, had allegedly harassed the agent.

Yan Xia said, “Our lost client illustrates but one of the mounting pressures faced by independent Chinese media in Australia. Tensions have heightened over recent months, with Australia’s Chinese media under pressure to support President Xi Jinping and Beijing’s foreign policy. That pressure is part of China’s exercise in ‘soft power’. Broadly speaking, there are three types of Chinese-language media in Australia.

“The first consists of those that rely on the Chinese government and Chinese commercial ties for revenue. These outlets tend to echo and take their cues from state-run mouthpieces. The second group consists of media directed by religious groups aiming to expose China’s political, educational and socio-economic situation while promoting human rights and religious freedom. And the third is independent of political and religious influence. Its reporting is largely in line with the ideals of Western mainstream media and generally gives holistic views of Canberra’s policies and sentiments.

“Our outfit fits this last category. While independent media outlets are standard in the West, a one-party state cannot accept that media outlets “do not follow directives” and, by its reckoning, do damage to ‘national interests’. In China, national interests are synonyms for ‘the party’s interests’.

“In recent months it appears the Chinese government’s influence in Australia has become more open and, thus, more easily observed. For Chinese media platforms whose goal is to serve as the bridge between the Chinese community and the Australian mainstream, the challenge lies in reporting fairly and accurately on matters of conflict between the two countries. We choose to remain unyielding in our approach, reporting according to Western journalistic ideals. This has been tested during recent times, which have seen a deluge of articles examining issues that Beijing considers unpalatable.”

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