Opinion / Op-Ed Contributors

No stopping daylight by killing roosters

By Zhang Zhihai (China Daily) Updated: 2013-09-09 07:04

The dawning of the new media age means officials need better interaction with the media and the public. However, despite the principle of "maintaining good relations with and making good use of the media" put forward by the Party and the government, many officials still have deep-rooted misapprehension about the media. It is necessary to correct this so they can interact better.

In some cities or provinces, officials consider so-called negative publicity as something evil. Whenever there is any report of bad news within their region, the first thing that comes to their minds is how to prevent it from spreading. To that purpose they employ all kinds of resources, use personal influence, even administrative resources, to intervene to try and stop the news spreading.

This is wrong. China's media outlets, especially the mainstream ones, play the role of recording social progress, expressing public opinion and supervising power for social justice in the nation's development process. By seeking to curb or control bad news, the officials actually ignore public opinion. That in the long run will make it impossible for the government and the media to treat each other with sincerity.

Some officials also use improper words when dealing with the media. They forget that the media have audiences and treat interviews as a private discussion, thus they often speak without taking public opinion into consideration. They do not realize that their ridiculous words will make the headlines. The strange words of officials, which have shocked the public and aroused national concern in recent years, are good examples. To change this, officials must change their views of the media. They should view the media as a means of rallying public support rather than a way to impose their views on the public.

Many officials treat their relations with the media in an outdated propaganda mode. They take the media as a means to boast of their achievements and try to impose their own will upon the media. That might have been appropriate decades ago, but now we are in the new media age when everybody can be a journalist; such simple thinking in dealing with the media, instead of gaining public trust, makes officials look foolish. The new media age requires officials to embrace the media with more openness; even if they want to use the media to express their views, they need to know the art of modern journalism and learn to interact with the public better.

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