Tag Archives: Media

Chinese Media and Disaster Response: a Work in Progress

In the wake of the tragic explosions that recently shook the Chinese coastal city of Tianjin, Beijing’s flagship publication the People’s Daily published an online commentary last week titled “China Needs to Learn from the West to Work with Media in Crisis” – the loose translation of a commentary originally published in Chinese. The piece attempts to provide an explanation for theunscheduled halting of a press conference by authorities moments after a reporter questioned why the doomed toxic chemical facility responsible for the explosions that have so far killed 135 people was located so close to homes.

China’s “press spokesperson” system, only 12 years old, the commentary tells us, is still in its infancy: spokespersons have mixed levels of competence, and the handling of press releases during emergencies “needs to be improved.” But that’s where the navel gazing ends. Using 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina as examples, the piece proceeds to explain how the handling of breaking news by Western countries “is worth learning.”

Where Western countries seem to get it right, continues the commentary, is that their media tends to report a situation initially as direr than what it actually is, with subsequent reports presenting “better than expected” outcomes. Conversely, Chinese media, it suggests, “always want to play down the disaster, with the motivation to not arouse panic, whereas in fact, with the death toll rising, the public’s fear and tension will be inevitably upgraded.”

Read on at the University of Southern California’s Center on Public Diplomacy blog site.

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Chinese press stays on message in Yunnan quake coverage

Line 21 Project coordinator, Nicholas Dynon, recently provided insights to Agence France-Presse (AFP) on the Chinese media’s coverage of the devastating earthquake that shook Yunnan province earlier this month.

The example set by the People’s Daily, commented Dynon, shows us that Chinese media coverage of the quake has followed a thematic pattern we would expect of disaster reportage out of China.

“The state-sponsored press has adhered largely to officially sanctioned themes, including the responsiveness of the central government and military, swiftness and professionalism of rescue and recovery efforts, accounts of death and destruction, stories of survival, and solidarity in grief”, he stated. “These themes reinforce the key messages that authorities have reacted appropriately and that the nation is united in its support.”

The report, carried by Yahoo!7, can be read here

Pao Pao seeks insights from Line 21 coordinator

Pao Pao, an internet news platform supported by Greatfire.org, RNW, Hong Kong Independent Media and the China Digital Times among others, has sought insights from Nicholas Dynon about the use of the term “terrorism” in reportage on violent incidents in China. For readers of Chinese, the report is available on the Pao Pao website.