State mouthpieces should tune into sensitivitiesSouce:Xinhua Publish By Jane B. Hatcher Updated 19/12/2012 6:11 am in Business / no comments
by Xinhua writer Wang Aihua
BEIJING, Dec. 18 — China’s official media outlets should learn to play professionally in today’s information age as an increasingly picky audience is constantly putting them under the magnifying glasses of public scrutiny.
The latest lesson comes from the Xinyang Daily, a previously obscure newspaper affiliated to the Xinyang Municipal Committee of the Communist Party of China in Henan Province.
The newspaper became a target of public mockery after it touted on its front page on Monday the educational achievements of a county where a man stabbed more than 20 schoolchildren just three days beforehand.
The eulogy came at an inappropriate time when the nation was shocked and thrown into sorrow by the school attack. It fueled public anger over the inaction of local authorities and media in failing to provide sufficient details about the incident, which happened on the same day as the deadly shooting rampage in the U.S. state of Connecticut.
Online critics lambasted the newspaper as “really disgusting” as it showed indifference to the injured kids but displayed passion to sing the praises of official achievements.
The criticism has sounded a warning to official media that they must learn to cater to the public’s need and sentiments.
Chinese people are no longer passive receivers of mass media transmission. Media literacy, as a result of improved information access and the development of media technology, has endowed them with skeptical eyes toward almost everything they get from journalists.
Official media can only find themselves ridiculed or even lose people’s trust if they ignore the challenge from the discerning audience.
They must remember that they are read by a public, who are at ready to pick fault with their material.
Xinyang Daily seems to have spotted where its problems lay. In a public apology printed on its front page on Tuesday, the newspaper attributed the mistake to its editorial team’s lack of “professionalism” and “sense of responsibility.”
Yes. The newspaper would have done it right if it had kept professionalism in mind while serving its due role.
In the latest sign of bureaucracy and officialdom being painstakingly minimized in China, the country’s top leaders have shown determination in cutting pointless media reporting on their activities, and it’s time for official mouthpieces to play professionally as mass media.