Cashing in on Silence
Although China has maintained strict control of the media, since the mid-1990s, the state has encouraged the commercialization of media. Part of this process entailed removing state support from more peripheral media while keeping in place key “mouthpieces” such as China Central Television and People's Daily. In an environment where state control limits their options, this combination of “power-brokering and profit-mongering” has led some media to routinely abuse their privileges to pad their bottom lines. This mixture also contributes to what some have called an ethical crisis for Chinese journalism. It takes its most prominent form as “news extortion,” or xinwen qiaozha, a reference to the writing of hard-hitting articles, or threatening to release them in order to coerce corporations and local governments. Liu Chang's case in this chapter remarked that ethical problems of this kind pose one of the biggest dangers facing the press in China.
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