Press Trust of India
Beijing, 3 September
China has ordered three lakh journalists working in the state-run media to attend Marxism classes, a move aimed at containing the influence of rapidly expanding Internet media on its tightly controlled press.
Between June this year and January next year over three lakh people working in the media industry throughout China are expected to receive training on journalism with Marxist values, state-run ‘Global Times’ reported quoting an official announcement.
The modern media field in China is more “complicated” than ever before, and the media staff need to take on more responsibility, state-run ‘Xinhua’ news agency quoted an official as saying.
The Internet has become a battleground for public opinion and that a lack of responsible behaviour has led to many people “breaking the rules,” the official said.
This followed arrests of some journalists who highlighted administrative irregularities in their microblogs which were termed as rumour mongering by officials.
The key question has become whether or not this training will be enough to equip modern media workers with the skills to help resolve the situation, the ‘Global Times’ said.
CPC media managers say Internet has changed the landscape of the media in China as the country now has over 300 million people hooked to micrblogs, the highest in the world.
The CPC officials say young people make up the majority of media workers, and their “ideological quality” has changed.
Li Fei (pseudonym), a journalist with China Central Television (CCTV) who attended the classes, said he believes the courses have been useful, but the classes were more about ideology than professionalism.
He attended the three-hour training session in late June, which lasted three hours in the morning, as part of a group of 400 reporters and editors.
The classes are led by a professor, who is an expert on Marxism, though Li questioned how relevant the material is for modern journalism, the ‘Global Times’ report said.
“I think it’s more about ideology, and very little about journalism theory or practice,” Li said.
Despite some reservations, Li believes the training had merit. “At least it reminds me to be aware of the need to express positive things,” he said.
While micoblog media is spreading fast, the media in China is controlled by the state as almost all newspapers and television channels are part of the official media.
“Journalism has become a profession but some people in the industry don’t have a sense of professionalism. The media should report facts without bias,” Chen Lidan, a professor on journalism theory with the Renmin University of China, said.
Chen views the Marxism classes as being more about professionalism than about ideology.
Yu Hai, a sociology professor with Fudan University, said that rumour-mongers should be brought to justice if there is a specific victim, but due process must be obeyed. “Otherwise it could be viewed as cracking down on public opinion,” Yu said.