Social media is transforming Chinese journalism, according to the International Center for Journalism, whose representative attended a recent conference on international journalism sponsored by Tsinghua University. At the conference, Qu Yingpu, deputy editor-in-chief of the state-controlled China Daily, said that social media was spreading news so rapidly that it was no longer possible to control the flow of information.
Shi Anbin of Tsinghua University urged journalists to learn from the example of Andy Calvin’s one-man newsroom which covered the Middle East during the Arab Spring in 2011 for National Public Radio by relying on numerous local activists, bloggers, and reporters using social media like Twitter.
Li Liangrong, professor of journalism at Fudan University, said the standard for news presented on the Web should be open, fair, equitable, extensive, and intensive.
In fact, many Chinese count on the Internet for fast and possibly more accurate news reporting than they can get in the daily papers. The proliferation of cell phones, now well over 1 billion, make it possible for ordinary citizens to become instant “journalists” with far-reaching impact. Just ask the Russian cellist who was fired after someone used his cell phone to film an altercation and posted it on the Internet.
Cell phones are a key element driving the instant news phenomenon. The nation’s on-line mobile phone users total 370 million, about 70 percent of the total Internet users. Access to the Internet for them is instant and available just about anywhere.
China still tries to control and “cleanse” information disseminated on the Web. However, the fast access offered by mobile phones and the proliferation of social media make the job increasingly difficult.