A Philosopher's Blog

China is Here…and There

Posted in Business, Politics by Michael LaBossiere on September 19, 2010
National emblem of the People's Republic of China

Image via Wikipedia

China, being a “communist” state does not have an independent news media. Instead, they are still following the old Soviet model of having one official news agency, namely Xinhua.

As one might expect, Xinhua is biased heavily in favor of the Chinese government and follows the official line in all things. However, on matters on which the Chinese government has no official position, Xinhua seems to be capable of providing decent coverage.

What is perhaps most interesting is that China is pushing Xinhua as an export and offers its news services to countries at a significant discount. As such, it does have  a certain appeal to nations that want such a service but are lacking in funds. Of course, they also have to accept they are buying China’s official line in regards to the news.

For folks who are concerned with objective (as far as it is possible) news, Xinhua only has minimal appeal. It can be useful as a means of seeing the official position of the Chinese government and can provide sort of a counter weight against news agencies that are weighted the other way (thus giving a possible glimpse at the middle by factoring in the “gravitational pull” of each bias). However, to folks who like their news biased, this will be a fine choice. As Fox News (and to a far lesser extent MSNBC) shows, there is certainly a market for “news” that makes no bones about having a definite slant and political agenda.

However, I suspect that Xinhua will need to move away from being a mouthpiece of the state if it is ever going to be a truly reputable news agency. Then again, if the foes of the media are right, perhaps there are no reputable news agencies at all and thus Xinhua just provides yet another bias to pick from (left, right, etc.).

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9 Responses

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  1. kernunos said, on September 19, 2010 at 5:49 pm

    ” However, to folks who like their news biased, this will be a fine choice. As Fox News (and to a far lesser extent MSNBC) shows, there is certainly a market for “news” that makes no bones about having a definite slant and political agenda. ” Only Fox news has bias? You failed to mention NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN…etc showing your hand.

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on September 20, 2010 at 7:49 pm

      I mentioned MSNBC right in the post, hence I cannot be taken to claim that Fox is alone in having a definite slant. I also do not say or even imply “only Fox is biased”, I just use it as an example of the very successful news channel with a definite slant.

      • kernunos said, on September 21, 2010 at 11:45 am

        “…(and to a far lesser extent MSNBC)…” – That is balance? I don’t think Fox is as biased as you would like to think. We have 40+ years of biased slant from the big three plus 20+ from CNN and you just had to jab a stick at FOX with a “far lesser extent” as a bone thrown to us so your bias didn’t look too obvious. Even Bill O’Reilly, which is an opinion piece, has heavy hitter libs’ on to argue the other side. Pick ANY opinion based show from any of your “far lesser extent” biased stations and let us match guests. I bet you will be very surprised. There is a reason papers are dying out and it isn’t because people cannot read anymore. These discussions are along the same lines as why the republican party is endangered. You have always stated they are not far enough ‘center’ when I say yes but not conservative enough. The party has been moving too far to the left especially with social values. I jumped ship because of this and recent elections are proving my point. There is not room for two Democratic parties. If the Republicans are becoming the old Democrats then what is the democratic party becoming?

        • kernunos said, on September 22, 2010 at 12:42 am

          Ouch! The wheels are getting wobbly! The worst thing the Dems could have done was to get people to start noticing politics by moving so fast with the economic destruction. The Left-wing media is reaping what it sows. I think the irony is classic. They pound Bush for years as the dumbest yet most devious and underhanded president ever. They they hold Obama up as some super genius, intellectual genius that will save us all with ‘Hope and Change’. I would say it wasn’t a very good investment on their part. BTW, where did Freddiek go? I miss you bud.

          http://www.mediabistro.com/tvnewser/evening_news_ratings/evening_news_ratings_20092010_season__174003.asp

  2. WTP said, on September 21, 2010 at 2:44 pm

    “folks who are concerned with objective (as far as it is possible) news”…
    How far is it possible to be objective? Claims of objectivity are themselves quite suspect (and Fox News’ “We report, you decide” is mighty suspect to me).

    One should always expect an official Chinese Government news organization’s reporting to be biased toward those who work for the Chinese Government. But why shouldn’t one also expect CBS News’ reporting to be biased toward the ideas, attitudes, and opinions of the kind of people who work at CBS News? And in a free market for information (which I assume we all believe in) wouldn’t one expect those who share common values and perceptions as the kind of people who work at CBS News to gravitate toward that organization’s product? Over time, would this not become a recursive process making expectations of objectivity quite suspect?

    Where does one find such objectivity? Where are all these angels?

    • kernunos said, on September 22, 2010 at 12:20 am

      There are no angels in the news business, J/K. I think you have a point though. News outlets should be honest and let the pople decide. After all, we aren’t as dumb as they think we are.

  3. steven andresen said, on September 22, 2010 at 2:25 am

    wtp said,

    “…One should always expect an official Chinese Government news organization’s reporting to be biased toward those who work for the Chinese Government. But why shouldn’t one also expect CBS News’ reporting to be biased toward the ideas, attitudes, and opinions of the kind of people who work at CBS News?”

    Actually, I don’t expect the Chinese news service to be biased towards those who work for the Chinese government.

    China is a big country. There must be some difference of opinion amongst all the people who work for the Chinese government. It is a little too loosey goosey to say that the News service will reflect the views of all those government officials.

    I have a similar problem with the claim that CBS News has a bias in favor of the ideas, attitudes, and opinions of the people who work at CBS News. It’s a big organization. I’m sure there is some difference of opinion amongst the personel.

    My problem is that I don’t think this claim is true. CBS News does not reflect the ideas of many of its staffers, and that includes many reporters. Somebody owns CBS News and I suspect, if the News there is biased towards anyone, it’s the people who own the place and controll hiring and firing.

    Same thing with China News.

    I’m also wondering about just what kind of bias we might find at China News, or CBS. If I were heading up China News, I’d go for trying to build a reputable news organizatiuon that would take on crime and corruption in Chinese government. I’d be able to sell that to out of country markets. If China News could show it was independent of Chinese government control, then whatever it had to say about world affairs would have that much more credibility.

    The problem with CBS News, as well as the rest of the Media, is that they have shown that they are too much influenced by their owners and advertizers to be honest reporters about domestic or foreign affairs. Their reporters are embeded in the U.S. military, which makes their reporting suspect, and as well, the media is itself embedded in corporations, and there, told what to report and how.

    The U.S. Media could do a better job in its reporting. We could find that they could give independent uncensored reportage about financial affars, for example. However, too much money is being made by the owners of the Media to have any of their reporters expose any of that to the purifying rays of the sun.

    • kernunos said, on September 24, 2010 at 6:01 pm

      “…and as well, the media is itself embedded in corporations, and there, told what to report and how.” – Really? Pro corporation embedded media? Maybe if you are NBC or MSNBC under GE with a CEO who is in bed with Obama. I guess I learn something everyday.

  4. WTP said, on September 23, 2010 at 11:45 am

    “If I were heading up China News, I’d go for trying to build a reputable news organizatiuon that would take on crime and corruption in Chinese government. I’d be able to sell that to out of country markets”

    You obviously do not understand the problem or the issues relevant to my comment. And given the following:

    “The problem with CBS News, as well as the rest of the Media, is that they have shown that they are too much influenced by their owners and advertizers to be honest reporters ”

    Interesting ability to see freedom of expression in environments where there is very little, and yet an inability be able to see it in environments where there is much. Pushes the limits of enabling me to take you seriously.


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