Opinion / Featured Contributors

Chinese media needs to extend its international influence

By Chua Chin Leng ( Updated: 2016-02-24 17:43

Chinese media needs to extend its international influence

President Xi Jinping meets with the editors and other staff in the newsroom at the headquarters of People's Daily newspaper. [Photo/Xinhua]

President Xi Jinping made an important date with the Chinese media industry immediately after the Chinese New Year holidays. Fresh from the Golden Week break, President Xi visited Xinhua News Agency, People's Daily and CCTV in an event widely covered by the Chinese media, a sign that the President is launching another major initiative for the Chinese media.

The Chinese media industry is likely to see a major policy shift with greater central government support to play a bigger role as major international news providers on the world stage crowded by other big media players.

Chinese media are entering the world of news reporting and communication as a late starter. The Western media have been dominating the world news for more than two centuries, telling their stories and influencing the minds and views of their readers.

Western media have many advantages on their side, from being the first movers, being first on the world stage and carving out their sphere of influence, and also the advantage of the English speaking world.

News reporting has been one sided, seeing and reporting world events and news from a Western perspective, particularly in media platforms where English is the main language of communication and a willing and ready audience of English speakers.

Chinese media has a lot of catching up to do in talking to the world, in news reporting and the coverage of world events. They are competing for readership against many very well established Western media that have attained certain level of reputation, familiarity and acceptance over the years.

China Daily, Global Times, Xinhua and CCTV are doing a decent job in presenting news from the Chinese perspective. But they are talking to an audience of converts, people who are interested in China and events in China. World news is still dominated by Western media by virtue of their extensive coverage and an army of journalists and reporters worldwide.

How could China with a limited number of news agencies that are reporting mainly to a domestic audience win the readership of the world, to compete successfully for readership with the established Western media? There is no need to reinvent the wheel in news reporting. Chinese media could learn from what the Western media have been doing for years, investing in news agencies, in journalists and reporters, in commentators and academics, to present a different world view that is favorable to China, to tell the Chinese story.

The Western media is still hostile to China and presenting China and news related to China in a negative way, stereotyping and with a Western biased agenda. There is no short cut towards erasing or changing the worldviews of China presented by Western media and their hordes of journalists and contributors on world events.

China would have to adopt a wide ranging strategy across all forms of media, from news reporting, journals, magazines, TV, movies, pop cultures, sports and new media. There will be short term and long term strategies to consider.

China could tap on the pulling power of celebrities in the media, in the industries, in the movie and pop culture industries, to harness their influence to change and improve the perspective and perception of China and the Chinese Civilization.

Cultivating brand names by acquisition or promoting popular domestic brands in the international arena, promoting China's brand of pop culture and pop idols to promote soft power.

In this regard, China could tap on the established celebrities and brand names in Hong Kong, Taiwan and the overseas Chinese as part of the ascendance of the Chinese Civilization. CCTV has been doing this very well and more effort and resources could be committed towards this direction.

Winning the hearts and minds of the peoples of the world, changing world perception of China and the Chinese Civilization are not an easy task. And this is made even more difficult when the Western media are doing all the damage they can to paint China and the Chinese Civilization in a negative light for over two centuries.

It is an uphill task but over time, with great effort and perseverance, the world would see China and the Chinese Civilization in a different light.

Chinese media have a very important and urgent task to play to change the way the world sees China after what the Western media have done to China and the Chinese Civilization. It is just the beginning of a very long journey and with many obstacles ahead.

The opinions expressed here are those of the writer and don't represent views of China Daily website.

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