Cover of The International Economy Magazine

Cox Center Director Analyzes Changing Mass Media Conditions in China

While there is continuing evidence of restraints on the media in China, there also is evidence among Chinese journalists of an openness to change. There seems to be at least some support for this openness in parts of the government, and this openness in the long run may be more informative about the future of Chinese journalism, and maybe even China, than is the evidence of control.

This is the conclusion reached by Dr. Lee B. Becker, Director of the James M. Cox Jr. Center for International Mass Communication Training and Research, in an article in the July-August edition of The International Economy Magazine, a magazine published six times a year in Washington.

"The openness to change seems to be the result of the major economic revolution taking place in the country," Dr. Becker wrote, "and it may be necessary for the continuation of these economic developments. If this is the case, we can expect Chinese journalism to continue to evolve as the country enters the world trading market over the next years."

In the article, Dr. Becker describes his recent experiences working with media professionals in China and compares and contrasts his conclusions with those of other Chinese analysts and observers. The Cox Center conducted workshops for media professionals in Shanghai and Beijing in May, 2001, on coverage of international business and trade.

Dr. Becker also conducted interviews with academics in China and the U.S. and with others with work experience in China for the International Economy article. The article, titled "Writing on the (Great) Wall," appears in the magazine's Asia section.

Government officials in China invited Becker and the Cox Center to present the May workshops in Beijing and Shanghai on the subject of reporting on international business and trade issues. Becker asserts that participants understood that techniques explored for interviewing sources and reporting on these subjects were not to be applied toward Chinese government or business leaders.

Several sources cited by Becker in the article state that China's growing participation in the global market economy will be a key factor in encouraging a more open attitude to the flow of information and greater freedom in news reporting.

"The journalists in our workshops were fascinated particularly with the nitty-gritty of economics reporting," Dr. Becker wrote in the article. "In fact, the need for this type of business information may be crucial in understanding why we were invited to China in the first place."