Chinese City Managers Learn Of Press-Government Conflicts

City managers from Shanghai and Beijing visited the Henry W. Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication in October, where they were given some differing perspectives on the relationships between media and government in a democracy.

Dr. Lee B. Becker, director of the James M. Cox Jr. Center for International Mass Communication Training and Research, criticized the U.S. media for what he called "excesses" in coverage of the scandals of President Bill Clinton's presidency while he defended the right of the media to deal critically with behaviors of government.

Dr. Tudor Vlad, senior visiting research scientist in the Cox Center who is director of the School of Journalism at Babes-Bolyai University in Cluj-Napoca, Romania, criticized the media of his country for what he termed "unprofessional" behavior after the fall of totalitarian rule. He said the journalists in his country needed to do more to learn how to cover government in a democratic society.

The Chinese city managers were at the University of Georgia as part of a two-week program organized for them by the International Center for Democratic Governance, the international arm of the University's Carl Vinson Institute of Government (CVIOG). The CVIOG provides technical assistance to governments and government officials to help them improve their operations.

The 20 city managers from Shanghai who visited the Grady College on October 10 and the 21 city managers from Beijing who visited the College on October 30 spent two weeks in the United States as part of their CVIOG program. At the University of Georgia they learned about government in Georgia, how to do government planning, and how to fight corruption in government. They also traveled around the state and visited Washington.

As part of the program in the Grady College, which was organized by the Cox Center, the city managers learned about journalism education at the College and in the United States and toured the College facilities. The dialog between Dr. Becker and Dr. Vlad about the relationship between the media and government was the featured part of the two-hour program.

The cooperation between the Cox Center and the CVIOG resulted from conversations earlier in the year between Dr. Becker and Dr. W. Steve Wrigley, then head of the CVIOG's International Center and currently the University of Georgia's vice president for government relations, about the international outreach activities of the two organizations. The International Center for Democratic Governance has been working with government officials in China for two years.

Dr. Becker and Dr. Haoran Lu, a faculty member in the CVIOG, plan to visit Beijing and Shanghai in December to learn about training interests of journalists in December.