Media and Advertising

2006 is going to be great year for Chinese media

There's not going to be a revolution. Mass media will not be any less tightly controlled than in 2005. In fact, newspapers and TV stations are probably going to have greater difficulties remaining independent from central government interference than in 2005.

But look at what has been happening in the past few months:

- The number of blogs is increasing every day, and many of them are written by professional journalists and writers.

- Bloggers are shooting movies and organizing screenings, which is noteworthy when you consider that just a few years ago, art exhibitions without official backing were regularly shut down by the cops.

- Thanks to the Internet, news of riots and violent confrontations between local authorities and peasants in various southern cities has spread despite centralized attempts to quell discussion about it.

- Chinese journalists have developed the remarkably transparent habit of posting their field notes on the Internet.

- When idiotic commands from above cause disputes at newspapers like The Beijing News and China Youth Daily, the stories have been rapidly circulated nationwide on the Internet.

- The so-called Great Firewall is as effective at censoring the Internet as the Great Wall was at keeping Mongolians and Manchurians out.

All of this adds up to a very porous information environment where it is difficult, even for the powerful, to keep bad news secret.

For now it remains in the shadows, but the People's Republic of China at last has its own Fourth Estate.

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