China’s News Media tackles issues of money and power

On Tuesday, August 31, the East Asia Institute hosted an hour-long lecture featuring Dr. Juyan Zhang discussing the topic of “China’s News Media: Transition Shaped by Power and Money.”

The lecture opened with an introduction of Dr. Zhang by a colleague, presenting his credentials of a Masters in Journalism from Colombia and over a decades worth of experience in journalism both in the states and China.

Zhang explained in detail the mass movement towards commercialization in Chinese news media in both first person stories and visual representations that explained China’s evolution from a media primarily controlled by the government to a more independent, consumer-based form.

“There’s a saying in the U.S. – press freedom belongs to people who have money.” Zhang said, “I believe that only when you achieve financial independence can you enjoy more freedom. For the media, it’s the same.”

During the second half of the lecture, Zhang discussed the growing opportunities in China’s media circle brought on by less government control. “With the [Chinese] media today being financially independent, they’re become more liberalized because they no longer need subsidy from the government.”

China’s trends towards a more “market-driven” journalism industry is made apparent by Zhang’s examples of manipulation in the countries media circuit by wealthy companies offering money for publicity, or a lack thereof. While China is moving from a communist society to a more state socialistic and libertarian one, there are still evident problems plaguing Chinese news media.