Real people, real issues deserve media focus
Whenever I check my cellphone for news, I’m greeted by entertainment news promos: One celebrity is having an extramarital affair while another faces a divorce. Sometimes these promos are hidden under the cover of “social news” in order to attract more clicks.
In the late 1800s, US newspapers were using so much pulp news to amuse, and thus attract more readers that their style came to be known as “yellow journalism”. Today, Chinese media outlets seem to be doing the same. A pan-entertainment trend has been sweeping across social networks and media outlets, and it further intensified in 2016.
Some might argue amusement and entertainment news is a trend today because that is what most people want. True, readers and viewers fond of entertainment news are to partly blame for the trend, but the fact is, the pan-entertainment section takes up so much space on screen that even those looking for serious news stories have difficulty finding them.
No wonder when some mainstream media outlets recently reported the moving deeds of some scientists, many people asked why these people were never heard of before. We have excellent teachers, workers, soldiers and farmers, yet seldom do media outlets focus on any of them.
More importantly, China is undergoing social transformation with many newly emerg- ing problems. Too much media focus on celebrities will divert people’s attention from the really important problems that deserve serious attention.
For example, the higher education system’s problems can be solved only by deepening the ongoing reform. Experts need to think more about these problems and help the leadership make the decisions and guide the reform in the right direction, which they have not yet done to their full potential.
It’s time media outlets stopped violating the code of ethics of journalism. Journalists have the obligation to report about real issues and share with readers both the progress we have made and the challenges we are facing.
In 2016, journalists have done a good job by highlighting some milestone judicial cases that will further promote the rule of law, and spreading the sportsmanship spirit during the Rio Olympic Games. These are values that should be cherished in the society. Hopefully, the pan-entertainment trend will start fading next year as people pay more attention to what truly deserves their attention.
The author is a professor in communications at Hainan Tropical Ocean University.