Featuring Melissa Chan
Currently a John S. Knight Journalism Fellow at Stanford University, and former China correspondent for Al Jazeera, journalist Melissa Chan discusses the changing media landscape in China and the role played by foreign correspondents.
The relationship between academia and journalism, she notes, is both crucial and complex. Journalists rely on the expertise of academics to provide context to stories while journalists add value by being on the ground, talking to locals, and gaining ‘gut feelings’ for events. Despite fundamental differences, the two professions are often conflated as more academics are active online, blogging and tweeting.
The precise relationship between journalism and policy is difficult to determine, particularly in China where political processes remain opaque. The investigations on Wen Jiabao and Bo Xilai certainly had impact, but the extent to which those investigations alone altered the political landscape is impossible to determine.
Policy changes influenced by journalism are clearer to trace outside of China. The New York Times stories on Chinese hackers sparked a national debate in the US. Though there has been suggestion that this was already on the government’s radar, the features in the press brought the debate to the public domain.
Unfortunately, the post-Olympic environment in China has become more difficult for foreign correspondents. An air of openness during the games subsided once the eyes of the world turned away from Beijing. Foreign journalists in China are faced with increasing difficulties, such as difficulty accessing websites such as twitter and gmail, even using proxy servers.
Domestic correspondents face similar constraints. Even prominent platforms, such as stat-owned media organization CCTB, are restricted. Until these organizations offer more balance they will continue to lack international credibility.
Journalism in China: Impacting Policy in a Changing Media Landscape – March 2013
Melissa Chan is a John S. Knight Journalism Fellow at Stanford University, and former China correspondent for Al Jazeera.
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- Billions in Hidden Riches for Family of Chinese Leader (Wen Jiabao), The New York Times, October, 2012
- The Rise and Fall of China’s Bo Xilai, The New York Times, May 2012
- Al Jazeera Blogs, Melissa Chan