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The culture and history influence on Chinese media impartiality

March 13, 2009

In practise, media is the mouth and ear of public.Therefore,media has to care the public audience, and try to find a balance between it and the impartiality, although it is difficult to get. So, Chinese media has to care  most of Chinese audience, to on the side of the majority.For instance, in China, most people never forgive Japanese, for the Japanese army killed millions of Chinese people during the second World War but Japanese government never admit it.This one of report by Chinese media:

“Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has reaffirmed his pledge to visit the controversial Yasukuni war shrine on the anniversary of Japan’s World War Two surrender next week.

Mr. Koizumi told a reporter Tuesday that his pledge is “still valid.” If he goes next week, it would fulfill a campaign promise he made in 2001 to visit the shrine on the August 15th anniversary of the surrender.

The prime minister has visited the shrine yearly since taking office, but never on August 15th. His visits to Yasukuni have always been controversial because convicted war criminals are among the dead enshrined there. 

China and South Korea object to those visits because they say they glorify Japan’s wartime aggression in the region.”

On the other hand, if it is reported by the Japanese media, they must on the side of Japan as there were lots of Japanese people soldiers died at that time and they think that they should repect the dead soldiers, who are usually respected as heros in Japan. 

At the same time, most Chinese people don’t want Taiwan to be independent, so Chinese media usually on the side of Chinese government because journalists who report on the issue don’t admit Taiwan’s independence,too.In order to explain the reason, I have to talk about a little of Chinese history.

Around 1930s and 1940s, China had two major political parties, one is Communist party, and the other is Nationalist Party,which is Taiwan’s political party now.During 1945-1949, it is the time of National War between these two political parties.And Nationalist party moved to Taiwan after National War because it was defeated.That is the origin reason why there is bad relationship between China and Taiwan.And because of culture difference an each place’s patriotic education, Chinese and Taiwanese don’t like each other sometimes.Therefore,Chinese media usually on the side of the government and Taiwanese media on the side its own political party,because they both have to care their audience.And it is true that most Chinese don’t admit Taiwan’s independence while most Taiwanese want Taiwan to be independent.

This is a TV bulletin by Taiwanese media says that Chinese government suppress the Taiwan’s willing to join WHO(World Heath Organization).And they said that Chinese government was vety rude to them.We can see at the end it is said that say no to China and say yes to Taiwan.

And it is a bulletin of CCTV English Channel, reporting President Hu and President Bush’s talk on Taiwan and Tibet issue.


Finally, i think China today is the outcome of its history and culture, we can’t say wether it is wrong or right of Chinese media.And we all can’t change it to be the same as American media or other media in a short time.It’s the same as you can’t change a Asian person’s way of thinking to be a western way of thinking in a minute. What I can do is finding the difference and learn from it.


The impartiality on Tibet issue report

March 11, 2009

After watching the new of Lalai Lama on BBC yesterday, I had a deep thought about the it.

Dalai Lama at critical crossroads -BBC

First of all, I find it really different from the report of China.From  BBC,I think it in the attitude that China should protect Tibetan Culture and give them human right, but from Chinese media, it said Tibetan’s life is getting much better now and DaLai Lama is just the minority of Tibetan who want to indepent from China.Well, is it all impartial? I don’t know, as a Han Chinese, I have never been to Tibet , and it’s true only a few people can go there because its geography environment, even British and Chinese journalists who did the report on Tibet.

From BBC,Dalai Lama said that Chinese government want the Tibetan Culture to extinct, because Chinese authority seeking to change the ethnic mix of Tibet and erode Tibetan culture, language and religion with a massive influx of ethnic Han Chinese and a system of “patriotic re-education”.Possibly, some Tibetan people don’t want to learn Mandarin, they don’t accept Han Chinese Culture but there is not enough communication between Han Chinese and Tibetan people.

In China, there are fifty-six ethnic groups, but 90% of people are Han Chinese, Tibetan is just one of minorty groups, that’s why they usually be ignored by other people. At the same time, most journalists as well as government officers are Han Chinese, so there position is in the side of Han Chinese. Tibetan people are very poor because of geography enviroment, they can’t have export bussiness to develop economy and before Chinese government,Tibet was serf system,which was really scary.


And now Chinese government give them money so they can get education service free, and the government also sends lots of Han Chinese teachers there to teach them Mandarin.I think that’s why some people think Chinese government wants Tibetan culture to extinct.

Honestly, there is discrimination on minority ethnic people in China, because our Han Chinese always think we are the best in China. Han Chinese can get the best education and have good financial status in China,and as every minority has a completely different language from Mandarin, sometimes Han Chinese can’t even communicate with them.And it is true that minority ethnic are more difficult to find a good job.

In a word, I think the ethnic group and language difference are the fundamental reason that why it is difficult for Chinese media to be impatial on Tibet issue.And I will talk about the culture difference which results in partiality later.

One big learning curve

March 11, 2009

We did our final presentation on the findings of this blog on 26th February and on the whole I think it went pretty well. The opening sequence, where we did a split screen, with each of us pretending to be a different broadcaster – The BBC, Fox News, China Today and Al Jazeera was one of my favourite ideas that came out of the presentation. I think it allowed us to make our point ‘With so many voices…who do you trust?’  in a way that created an impact and grabbed the attention of our audience.


Myself and Tom started off the presentation by presenting different sides of the debate on impartiality, which in itself ensured that our presentation was impartial. Although Tom argued that you can’t really be impartial in news broadcasting, I argued that regulation, in particular light touch regulation ensures that broadcasters do attempt to stick to the ideal of impartiality and don’t stray too far from the norm. Owen and Daphne’s parts in the presentation worked really well because we then had two very different case studies on how impartiality and bias are viewed differently in the media in America and China.

The most nerve-wracking part of the presentation for me was the question time after our presentation, which gave our course-mates a chance to really grill us! We compared the American to the English model of impartiality which took up a lot of the debate, and explored how the role of a correspondent compared to a newsreader can differ in their approach to impartiality, or the allowance they are given to express opinion. I feel that our group held ourselves well in the question and answer session, which was a mark of how much preparation and effort had gone in to our presentation.

For me, it was really interesting to see what other people on the course felt about impartiality, since myself, Tom, Owen and Daphne had really only been able to discuss it amongst ourselves since Christmas. And, although we didn’t seem to come to any clear, definite conclusion on how impartial broadcasters should be, I feel that this was a positive outcome, because it reflected the debate and blurred boundaries around the issue. Impartiality is not a simple topic to digest.

What researching this topic has done for all of us in the group, is that it has made us more self-aware, and conscious of the fact that we do not come in to the media without opinions shaped by our backgrounds. As John Snow said in the clip from Tom’s part of the presentation, the way in which we express ourselves and the opinions we hold are shaped by whether we are male or female, white or black, working or upper class for example. Therefore I found this blog, and the research we did for the presentation has opened my eyes to the fact that I may view the world differently from my peers.

My own feeling is that light touch regulation of impartiality is needed. We need it to prevent broadcasters from favouring one side over the other and getting it wrong. But broadcasters must also retain the human element in journalism, and not forget the facts of a story in a desperate bid to ensure balance. Journalists must tell the story fairly, but they must also make the audience care.

So Where To Go?

February 23, 2009


For a well balanced view? It is well known which way the major broadcasters and publications lean, but is it possible to get a centrist opinion? Well according to a report from 2005 Media Bias, it is-


“If viewers spent an equal amount of time watching Fox’s ‘Special Report’ as ABC’s ‘World News’ and NBC’s ‘Nightly News,’ then they would receive a nearly perfectly balanced version of the news,” said Milyo, an associate professor of economics and public affairs at the University of Missouri at Columbia.”


The report also stated, quite suprisingly, that despite The Wall Street Journal’s right-of-centre stance on editorials, the newspages are so left they even beat the New York Times and the LA Times for liberal bias.

Tim Groseclose, a UCLA political scientist, said surveys have shown the majority of leftist bias in American media could be down to the fact the majority of reporters vote democrat. 

All of this underlines the fact that impartiality is really quite hard to find. Centrist news media is certainly in the minority, and despite the conservative propaganda from Fox, pro-Republican bias still cowers to pro-Democrat.

Summing up – Regulating impartiality

February 22, 2009

With a just a few days to go before our presentation I wanted to look back on my research over the last couple of months and to see if I could answer the question posed to us:

‘How realistic is it to expect news and current affairs broadcasters to commit to due impartiality?’


Regulators particularly Ofcom do attempt to force news broadcasters to commit to due impartiality but they also seem to recognise that broadcasters cannot be completely impartial all of the time. That is why the concept of due impartiality is so important, it is fluid, flexible and not absolute.  It is part of the British tradition of fairness, which is not always repeated across the globe.

Impartiality is a goal that must be achieved, but within reason. You don’t have to give 10 minutes coverage to Israel and 10 minutes to Palestine for example to achieve balance in a news report but both sides really should be covered in some way,  or there must be balance for example over a series of programmes or reports.

And of course the news channels don’t always get it right. The BBC has been under a lot of criticism lately for its pro-Palestinian approach to the Gaza conflict. And in particular because of the contraversial decision taken by the BBC and Sky News not to air a charity appeal by the Disasters Emergency Commission.

The BBC say they choose not to show the appeal because they need to try and stay impartial in their broadcasts. But many have argued that a humanitarian appeal is outside the realms of when impartiality is an issue, and in response the BBC was then accused of being pro-Israeli. Questions of BBC bias have been asked for years, and a freedom of information battle is still ongoing over the Balen report, an internal BBC report on their coverage of the 2004 Israeli/Palestine conflict.

But when the issues are as contentious as these, with people so clearly being on one side of the fence or the other, can a broadcaster ever get things right? Won’t they always offend someone?

Compared to the little regulation of the press, the expectations on broadcasters are much higher but the ideal of impartiality is hard to obtain. It is not easy for correspondents and reporters to stay distanced and aloof in their coverage of humanitarian crisis or war when they see so much suffering. And the audience almost wants to hear the emotion they feel, so that they can relate to the images of distant lands of their screens. However, there is a fine line between emotive journalism and the blame game and that is why I think regulation, in particular light touch regulation is so important.

We need the regulators, Ofcom and the BBC Editorial Guidelines to keep a close eye on media output and to make sure that it is not biased, but at the same time, it is not always realistic to expect broadcasters to achieve due impartiality of every hour of every day and maybe they shouldn’t.

 As long as impartiality problems are regulated when they are needed to be, then light touch regulation works because it allows the broadcast media freedom, in a similar way to the long-established freedom of the press. As with the old cliché the media is the watchdog of the people, and important in a democratic society where the powerful must be held to account for their actions.

By being rigid in their approach to impartiality and giving equal airtime to each opinion, each side, broadcasters stand the risk of being dull and of failing to get to the actual truth of the story.

That is why the concept of ‘due impartiality’ is so important and more realistic than the idea of complete impartiality in news reporting. As the BBC Editorial Guidelines state, due impartiality means being:

“Fair and open-minded when examining the evidence and weighing all the material facts, as well as being objective and even handed in our approach to a subject. It does not require the representation of every argument or facet of every argument on every occasion or an equal division of time for each view.”

There are times when the broadcast media will slip up, when stereotypes will be reinforced rather than quashed and when one side may be given more air time than another. But as long as mistakes are acknowledged and the viewer keeps telling the media where they slip up, then things can’t be so bad.

Broadcasters are only human after all, they will get things wrong. But when they have been partial they can learn from their mistakes. Sometimes the lines are blurred between impartiality and morality, between neutrality and empathy but this is what makes the news so addictive because of our desire to know what is going on in the world around us.

A thought of impartiality

February 3, 2009

According to incomplete statistics, there are at least 50 large enterprises in China, the Chinese local brands and entrepreneurs in a short time of 18 months, one after another were disclosed by media ” under the “accident.” If you open a number of large and small magazines, newspapers, Internet pages, you will find many all kinds of  significant problems of Chinese famous brands were frequently exposed, so that consumers and businesse all feel scared.

Low-quality, cheap wines full of water

china daily

china daily

This reminds me of the impartiality of news and media “violence”, which is a popular word in China.

What is the impartiality of news? This is a matter of debate. Journalists and readers to the views of the fairness of different positions and starting point. Readers expect journalists in news gathering, writing, editing process, to take a specialized mode of operation, from the perspective of public interest and the structure of news, rather than from the individual’s preference proceeding. Honestly, there is a difference in personal bias and values estimation, so an absolutely objective news report always does not exist. But news reports should do their utmost to work out the most objective, true, accurate and fair report.

The principles of news is to respect the facts, and seeking truth from facts. This is also an inevitable requirement of the truth of the news. Although the impartiality of the news is in respected by  both eastern and western media, but in specific news practice, impartiality is impossible to achieve, because of the position of media and journalists affected. News of the principle of justice is facing many challenges, and it  needs the  journalists a to pursuit as a goal, or try their best to work on.

News unfairness include: the facts are inaccurate, incomplete, not comprehensive, in depth, there is no explanation, no background, no context. In addition, refusing to report a piece of news, or refusing to correct false reports, reporting rumors and lies, not to verify the facts, violence, invasions of privacy and so on.

Not long ago,  a book named”fair journalism” which was published by American “Freedom Forum” pointed out that newspapers often eight injustices:

1 the fact that the newspaper made a mistake;

2 the newspaper refused to admit their mistakes;

3 the newspaper refused to disclose the news source;

4 newspaper hired ignorance, shallow or unqualified journalists;

5 newspaper like  to attack the weak for fun;

6 newspapers focused on negative news;

7 the lack of multi-newspaper;

8 Newspaper editors and reporters reporting views of individual in the press.


The press, regulation and impartiality – Incompatible?

January 31, 2009

When it comes to impartiality, newspapers are a different kettle of fish. Unlike broadcasting where impartiality and neutrality is a key requirement, and is monitored by external organisations such as Ofcom; the press is far less regulated. Impartiality is often more of an ideal than a reality and newspapers are expected to be partisan.

 Just a quick look at The Telegraph and the Guardian, for example, reveals just how different the editorial lines can be. There is fact, but there is also more opinion as newspapers seem to have much more of a difference between them depending on whether they are right or left leaning in their politics. The onus is therefore on the reader to choose the newspaper that best reflects their own views.

It is in times of war that newspapers seem to express their opinions most overtly and stray from impartiality. The Sun’s ‘Gotcha’ headline printed in 1982 during the Falklands war is one of the most notorious examples.


During the first years of the Iraq war The Sun was also pro-war causing many to be critical of the way in which Rupert Murdoch’s views were feeding out to the masses. In comparison, the Daily Mirror took a very anti-war stance. However, the credibility of the paper was threatened when it was revealed that it had printed fake pictures of Iraqi prisoners being abused by British soliders. As a result the editor Piers Morgan was sacked.


The press is mainly self regulated by The Press Complaints Commission, an independent body who investigate complaints made by the public. The National Union of Journalists also has its own code of conduct that the members of the union must follow.

The PCC regulates the press through the Code of Conduct, a list of guidelines that newspapers must follow. However, the code of practice is drawn up by the newspaper editors themselves and is far less expansive than Ofcom’s Broadcasting code. To what extent therefore is self regulation effective?

According to the press complaints commission:

“The Code performs a dual function: it gives the industry a firm set of principles to guide it; and it gives the Commission a clear and consistent framework within which it can address complaints from members of the public… The fact that the Code is drafted by the industry ensures the unswerving commitment of all sectors of the newspaper and magazine publishing sector to self-regulation and to the PCC.”


The protection of the rights of the press seems paramount. The need to be impartial hardly warrants a mention in the code, apart from is passing when it says journalists must be accurate and distinguish between fact and opinion.


i) The Press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information, including pictures.

ii) A significant inaccuracy, misleading statement or distortion once recognised must be corrected, promptly and with due prominence, and – where appropriate – an apology published.

iii) The Press, whilst free to be partisan, must distinguish clearly between comment, conjecture and fact.










Many of the points of the Code of Practice can also be broken providing that the article was written in the public interest.

So is there any point in having such a light touch regulator? Of the 4,340 the PCC received it 2007, it only adjudicated on 32 of them. Unlike Ofcom the PCC cannot fine newspapers, it can only ask them to print apologies to those affected by inaccuracies. Even the former head of the Commission, Sir Christopher Meyer received criticism by printing far from neutral extracts of his memoirs in national newspapers  that were highly critical of Tony Blair and John Prescott. Hardly a basis for impartiality it seems.

The PCC has also received criticism for making it hard for people to complain when the press gets things wrong. All complaints must be in written form, making it hard for those who would rather discuss their complaints in person. Finally, if the press is not really regulated by an outside body as broadcasting is, is it really as credible? Adrian Monck, the former Deputy editor of Five News in 2004 believes that the press should be subject to the same rules that broadcast news is.

And yet there is also an argument for the light touch regulation embodied by the PCC. The PCC argue that they are respected in the industry and that the code of practice is almost like a code of honour, highly respected amongst journalists. Many print journalists are also resistant to the idea of outside regulation. The press, long known as the fourth estate, prides itself on freedom of expression. More regulation of the freedom of the press could hinder its role as a watchdog in a democratic society to monitor the actions of those in power. Free speech could be stifled.


I’ll let you decide which argument you side with.

Because of its history, the press therefore has much less of an obligation to impartiality than the broadcast media. The influence of the BBC and public service broadcasting on all other news programmes has ensured that the broadcast media is far more regulated and has much stricter rules than the press. The press has more potential to print inaccuracies and offend but there is also much more freedom of expression.  Just because the press is more partisan, that is not to say that it is less truthful.

But what do the public think? In a 2008 survey by The British Journalism Review found that journalists were one of the least trusted professions, only just coming above estate agents. However, whilst around 50% of those surveyed trusted broadcast journalists to tell the truth, only 15% trusted tabloid journalists. So maybe the public don’t believe everything they read in the papers.