Monday, May 12, 2008

Random thought--Media

In China, the government controls the media. Everyone knows this; it's not exactly a secret. It is also very obvious to any outsider that the Chinese government utilizes the media to push its agenda, glorify China, and demonize America and the west. Ask an American about the portrayal of America in the Chinese media or the Chinese media in general and he or she will most likely, without even thinking, quickly blurt out something along the lines of:

"It's all brainwashing bullshit!"
"The Chinese government is just trying to control the people!"
"It's so obvious that the media in China is biased. The Chinese people can't see this?"
"They are just trying to make China look good and America look bad. So unfair!"
"What the hell is this crap they call news? At least American news is balanced and free from government influence!"
"It is in the government's interest for the Chinese people to fear the west. That's why the news is the way it is in China."

Wow...those poor Chinese people! Constantly subjected to manipulated news! Ok, now think for a moment. When was the last time you saw an American media story that put China in a positive light? I am not talking about the many articles that extol the virtues of investing in China; I am talking about a report that actually praises China for something other than its economic growth. (Actually, even most stories or articles that praise Chinese economic growth predictably mix in a jab or two concerning the environment or corruption, citing these factors as reasons that the growth can't possibly be sustainable.) Can't think of any? Maybe one or two? Ok, now try to think of media reports that criticize China or lead people to believe that the Chinese are out to get us. Oh, that one's easy...Contaminated food...Hidden military expenditures...Corruption...Pollution...Human rights...Computer espionage...etc...etc...etc...

Why is this the case? No can debate the fact that the above topics are newsworthy, but is there really NOTHING positive to report about China? Of course, there are positive things happening in China, it's just that the American media conveniently forgets to mention them. When it comes to China coverage, is our "free and liberal" media really all that different than the communist state-controlled media in China? Americans are quick to label Chinese media as government-controlled, propaganda nonsense and are just as quick to hold up the American media as a paradigm of unbiased and fair reporting. Where is the "fair and balanced" coverage of China? Apparently, the American media can dish out the propaganda just as well as the commies can.

What it all boils down to is that when a Chinese person bases his or her opinion of America on the one sided news that he or she is exposed to, that person is considered "brainwashed", but when an American bases his or her opinion of China on the one sided news that he or she is exposed to, that person is considered "informed". Kind of hypocritical, isn't it?

Just something to think of as you take in the never ending media reports concerning the "yellow peril"...


Mykel said...

That's an interesting point. From a front page perspective, what would the American public want to know about China? Most information is going to be tied to American interests.. In addition, most news about foreign countries is either negative in some respect, or related to economic growth.

1) Newsworthy events
Elections, olympics, military action, border clashes, earthquakes, things that don't match to some degree general US ideals. Generally these items will be negative. Most news about foreign countries is negative. I think a good deal of tainted imports could fall under this category (in addition to the Economic section below).

2) Economic information (Economic growth/Imports/Exports). American is tied to china in many different ways. Fluctuations in China will affect the US, and vice versa.

3) Information about Americans
Ex-pats, aid groups, vacationers, etc.

Unconventional Applicant said...

I agree. I know that the American media tends to take the negative slant on most things, but it is bordering on ridiculous when it comes to its coverage of China.

Basically, I think that the major media outlets should be more responsible when "educating" the masses about China, rather than instilling fear and mistrust. If not, then they are no better than the communist state-controlled media in China.

Anonymous said...

Hey just came across your blog.....amazing stuff you have in was fascinating to read your experiences in China....btw I plan to apply for the class of Fall 2009 so hopefully I'll see you.....nice blog though....keep it coming.

Unconventional Applicant said...

Thanks! Feel free to email me at if you have any questions about the application process. I'll try to help if I can.

Ravi K said...

Appreciate your help....I'll certainly hit you up for advice when I start my applications next month...Let me know if you need any info about here....or are you already here? I figured you might need any help after being away for 2 years....anyways keep your posts coming....