No doubt, the Corona-virus has been the major challenge to mankind in the past two years. We hope that the scientific and healthcare communities will develop an effective vaccine soon to terminate the pandemic. However, during the past two years, one other disturbing fact that is entirely human controllable is the fake news and dishonest journalism phenomenon. This phenomenon grew rampant on reporting international events, domestic political and economic issues and even happened to the Corona-virus and pandemic reporting. This phenomenon is purely man-made and it is a shame that it happens in a highly developed human society where technology advances were so impressive. For example, one can use a smart phone to read papers, watch TV, find and buy goods and pay for purchases, in addition, of course, to communication such as phone calls and messaging. Yet, in this environment, we are facing a corrupt media making our lives miserable unnecessarily. We citizens must do something to stop this “news virus” pandemic to save our society and our lives. In this column, we shall briefly review the transformation of West media and what caused the media to corrupt and call our citizens' attention to the problem. In a future article, we shall explore a methodology to correct dishonest journalism.
Media industry is closely related to technology, especially printing, communication and telecommunication, then through evolution into advanced media technology. Applications came along with technology (movie, TV, PC, network supported cable and internet), we saw the arrival of Netflix, YouTube, and Facebook, all accessible with a rich class of media devices, smart tablets, phones and watches, etc. These technology advances empowered media and media industry also enriched technologies. The West led in media development, from industrial revolution, during which printing technology was the driving engine, until non-paper media were invented. Books advanced civilization in the East due to printing. Later in the West the printing technology was mechanized and electronically automated. Therefore, science, literature and philosophy all were first advanced along with books then with other media, such as film, video and multimedia. This man-made progress made the West strong and dominating in the world for the past two to three centuries.
China is the oldest country with a continuous history, culture and civilization. From the origin of her written language and literature based on bamboo to paper and brush to ink printing, we witnessed advances in Chinese civilization for many centuries till industry revolution when printing press and other technologies, Telegraph, telephone, television … and computers followed took over the pace of development. Chinese literature was leading and impacting the world for thousands of years with long lasting effect, but the West literature (and media) with advanced media technology shortened the time required to make its impact. Speed of production and distribution in digital document, movie, TV, and web media can make instant impact to masses than ever before. Beginning in 19th century (or more so since WW II), the West media led by the U.S. was rich and admired by the world. Confidence in journalism and efficiency in media production supported the fast growth of the media industry in the West. Liberal philosophy became the model of journalism and the world (excluding countries controlled their media) followed the West in media creation and reporting. Indeed, the U.S. media used to be confident in reporting the truth, good or bad, more daring to expose the bad and inferior side of the world including the U.S. herself. That was the time the world was envying the U.S.; we witnessed the power of Hollywood, VOA, CNN, NY Times, etc.
Naturally, media war started when nations compete (over ideology, economy, and all other domains), using all advanced technologies from printing to multimedia. Media production needs capital, hence rich nations can dominate the media battle and gain media power to control propaganda and/or launch/win media war. Media also became a lucrative business to generate revenue from advertising, marketing merchandise and selling media products and events. The U.S. is in the forefront leading the media industry. Under the liberal capitalism, media industry became conglomerated into a few controlling corporations which unfortunately would have too much clout over the media workers, especially journalists and media creators. China was weak and a victim of invaders in the 19th and first half of the 20th century, thus had no media power for nearly two centuries. The U.S. through two world war became the superpower not only with super military power and a strong economy but also a powerful media industry dominating nearly all media, print, movie and TV, as well as Journalism and media colleges. The U.S. is still dominating the world media; all media professionals look up to the U.S. media industry for job opportunities and role models. There is no doubt in people’s mind that media power is important.
Things have changed a little when China is rising rapidly, first in economy, then technology which not only elevated her manufacturing levels to high end products, better military equipment and most critically her media focus. Even though China’s media industry came up late comparing to that of the U.S., but its development and growth is impressive mainly due to the fact that the Chinese government has fully understood and appreciated the mega media power that can do on the world stage. The rapid rise of China changed the U.S. in many ways, foreign policy, military strategy, trade practice and technology control, but the most apparent impact on the U.S. from China’s rise seems to be her self-confidence which is so obviously reflected in her media industry. The U.S. government is adopting a political anti-China policy which unfortunately has accelerated the transformation of the media industry from a confident and fair reporting practice to fake news-generating journalism. This deteriorating process was observable in media coverage of domestic issues as well, especially on elections. But the failing became worse when reporting about (or more accurately, against) China on various issues. Fake news may have been infested in media industry initially driven by election culture, but it has become worse when comes to US-China relation reporting. The fair journalism seems to be completely dead in dealing with China. Whether it was influenced by government or money, it was now obvious that the U.S. and West media had a strong bias against China, one not validated at all.
There were plenty of examples backing up the above statement, Hong Kong and Xinjiang reporting were the most notorious where fake news was reported to the ridiculous level. Hong Kong protest-riot-violence sequential development was twisted by West media and motivated by ‘colonial separatist ideology’ so obviously. The storming of U.S. Capital on Jan. 6, 2021 incidence was a God-sent event to quench the West dishonest journalism on the Hong Kong violence. On the Xinjiang reporting, the three fabricated stories, concentration camp, genocide and forced labor were shamefully propagated without making firsthand verification. The Ughurs have an envious standard of living and job opportunity to the rest of Muslim world but the U.S. media chose to ignore it. Media play a critical role in a democratic world. Media professionals must be humble and honest in practicing journalism. When nations compete, there is no shame in losing, after all the Chinese had 5000 years of history with thousands of great print books before we had the Bible. Our media technology is still leading the world, let’s have a fair competition in the Olympic spirit. No bragging when won and no shame when lost. We need to get the Olympic spirit into our media, making a positive transformation in the media industry. Citizens are tired of fake news. We must think of ways to stop dishonest journalism (presstitutes as Paul Craig Roberts call them).