Dig­i­tal age re­de­fines me­dia role in so­ci­ety

China Daily (USA) - - WORLD INTERNET CONFERENCE - By CANG WEI, ZHANG YANGFEI and WANG KEJU in Wuzhen, Zhe­jiang Con­tact the writ­ers at cang­wei@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Tech evo­lu­tion brings not just op­por­tu­ni­ties but chal­lenges, so­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity, of­fi­cials stress

Tra­di­tional me­dia must adapt to new de­vel­op­ments like dig­i­tal­iza­tion to con­tinue to at­tract au­di­ences, said China’s top pub­lic­ity of­fi­cials.

Shen Haix­iong, deputy head of the Pub­lic­ity Depart­ment of the Com­mu­nist Party of China Cen­tral Com­mit­tee and pres­i­dent of China Me­dia Group, said tra­di­tional me­dia play­ers should keep on learn­ing and im­prove their com­pet­i­tive­ness in the dig­i­tal era.

“Tra­di­tional me­dia will reach a dead end if they don’t change,” said Shen. “Ele­phants should also learn how to street dance to­day to em­brace dig­i­tal­iza­tion. Tra­di­tional me­dia should get the ini­tia­tive and power of the me­dia dur­ing re­form and in­no­va­tion.”

Shen made the re­marks dur­ing the fo­rum on “Me­dia Re­form and Com­mu­ni­ca­tion In­no­va­tion” at the 5th World In­ter­net Con­fer­ence in Wuzhen, Zhe­jiang prov­ince, East China, on Thurs­day.

“The me­dia’s value will keep in­creas­ing with the devel­op­ment of the in­for­ma­tion rev­o­lu­tion,” Shen said. “With more and more peo­ple pub­lish­ing var­i­ous kinds of con­tent, there ap­pears to be an over­flow of in­valid and harm­ful in­for­ma­tion. There­fore, me­dia need to play more im­por­tant roles as the pro­tec­tor of pub­lic opin­ion cred­i­bil­ity, and the pro­moter of so­cial con­sen­sus, as a val­ues­based leader and as a watch­dog of fair­ness and jus­tice.”

In the con­grat­u­la­tory mes­sage to the con­fer­ence, which opened on Wed­nes­day, Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping ex­pressed his hope that all coun­tries will deepen their co­op­er­a­tion to in­ject vi­tal­ity into ef­forts to build a global com­mu­nity with a shared fu­ture in cy­berspace.

Xi also said that joint en­deav­ors for gov­er­nance of the in­ter­net are nec­es­sary to en­sure that all coun­tries ben­e­fit from it, with dig­i­tal tech­nol­ogy play­ing an in­creas­ingly im­por­tant role in the in­te­gra­tion of the glob­al­ized world.

Thurs­day’s fo­rum, which was hosted by China Me­dia Group, CCTV.com, CRI On­line, CNR.cn and Sina Corp, fo­cused on the mass me­dia’s role in so­ci­eties amid the devel­op­ment of dig­i­tal tech­nolo­gies, which find wide ap­pli­ca­tions in me­dia.

Zhuang Rong­wen, deputy head of the Pub­lic­ity Depart­ment of the Com­mu­nist Party of China Cen­tral Com­mit­tee and min­is­ter of Cy­berspace Ad­min­is­tra­tion of China, said as the in­ter­net has be­come the main chan­nel for peo­ple to pro­duce, dis­sem­i­nate and ob­tain in­for­ma­tion, ma­jor me­dia or­ga­ni­za­tions should ad­here to norms that chan­nel pub­lic opin­ion in the cor­rect di­rec­tion and stick to ethics in on­line com­mu­ni­ca­tions, in or­der to en­sure their au­then­tic­ity and ob­jec­tiv­ity.

He said me­dia should in­no­vate their com­mu­ni­ca­tion meth­ods to build pos­i­tive and healthy views in so­ci­ety and pro­mote good cul­tural val­ues.

Be­sides ef­fec­tive com­mu­ni­ca­tion meth­ods, re­li­able, whole­some con­tent should be at the core of in­ter­net devel­op­ment, as it serves as a spir­i­tual home for hun­dreds of mil­lions of ne­ti­zens, Zhuang said.

“We hope that main­stream me­dia will ac­cord top pri­or­ity to cre­ation of good con­tent and be able to use to­day’s di­verse tech­nolo­gies to dis­cover and tell more vivid and lively sto­ries on top of main­tain­ing high-qual­ity orig­i­nal con­tent,” he said.

Me­dia should step up their ef­forts to meet the grow­ing in­for­ma­tion needs of the pub­lic, cre­ate more in­ter­est­ing con­tent of good qual­ity and guide ne­ti­zens to be­come con­tent pro­duc­ers, mass com­mu­ni­ca­tors and drivers of pos­i­tive change, he said.

At present, tech-age phe­nom­ena like dig­i­tal­iza­tion, net­work­ing, and in­tel­li­gent tech­nolo­gies have led hu­man be­ings into a new era. There­fore, only by adapt­ing to the trend of tech­no­log­i­cal change, strength­en­ing pro-in­ter­net think­ing, em­brac­ing new changes, mak­ing good use of new tech­nolo­gies, and cap­tur­ing new trends can peo­ple cul­ti­vate a sense of ini­tia­tive to drive fu­ture devel­op­ment, Zhuang said.

He stressed that tech­no­log­i­cal in­no­va­tion should al­ways play a lead­ing role in the evo­lu­tion of me­dia. When it comes to new me­dia prod­ucts, me­dia or­ga­ni­za­tions should strengthen tech­ni­cal sup­port and in­te­grate ad­vanced tech­nolo­gies such as big data, in­for­ma­tion vi­su­al­iza­tion, cloud com­put­ing, ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence into prod­uct plan­ning, con­tent pro­duc­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tion.

Zhuang urged the me­dia to fo­cus on cre­at­ing a com­mu­ni­ca­tion style and on­line plat­forms that match the habits of new-me­dia au­di­ences, which will help build a mo­bile com­mu­ni­ca­tion ma­trix with di­verse plat­forms, rich con­tent and wide cov­er­age.

“We will con­tinue to deepen the in­ter­na­tional ex­changes and co­op­er­a­tion in net­work com­mu­ni­ca­tion and make the in­ter­net a new bridge to pro­mote peo­ple-to-peo­ple bonds, a new link for cul­tural ex­changes, and a new space for in­for­ma­tion shar­ing,” Zhuang said.

China will learn from the ex­pe­ri­ences and in­no­va­tions in the field of mass com­mu­ni­ca­tions in other coun­tries and con­duct dia­logues and ex­changes with ex­perts, schol­ars, in­ter­na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tions and me­dia, Zhuang said.

The coun­try is also en­cour­ag­ing Chi­nese on­line me­dia to go over­seas to present a true and com­pre­hen­sive pic­ture of China to the world, share Chi­nese sto­ries and Chi­nese views with global ne­ti­zens, and in­tro­duce more China-re­lated ex­pe­ri­ences to the global me­dia in­dus­try.

Charles Cao, chair­man and CEO of Sina Cor­po­ra­tion, said the num­ber of in­ter­net users has been soar­ing in re­cent years, which had a huge im­pact on the so­ci­ety as the line that sep­a­rates the on­line and off­line worlds is blur­ring or dis­solv­ing.

The devel­op­ment of in­ter­net presents not only op­por­tu­ni­ties but chal­lenges. So­cial me­dia, for ex­am­ple, pro­lif­er­ated ru­mors and fake news while chang­ing the way in­for­ma­tion is pro­duced and dis­sem­i­nated, and on­line ride-hail­ing ser­vices also raised con­cerns over safety.

“Solv­ing th­ese prob­lems re­quires the joint ef­forts of gov­ern­ment, me­dia and in­ter­net-based com­pa­nies. On­line plat­forms should par­tic­u­larly be care­ful with their grow­ing in­flu­ence and keep so­cial re­spon­si­bil­i­ties and self-reg­u­la­tion in mind,” he said.

Ac­cord­ing to Cao, one of the ways that Weibo, as one of the big­gest so­cial me­dia play­ers in China, prac­tised in terms of shoul­der­ing so­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity is to am­plify the voice of the au­thor­i­ties con­cerned. Weibo now has more than 30,000 ver­i­fied me­dia ac­counts and over 170,000 gov­ern­ment ac­counts.

Weibo has also ap­plied ad­vanced tech­nolo­gies to crack down on ru­mors and fake news and part­nered with sci­ence com­mu­ni­ca­tion com­pa­nies to coun­ter­at­tack ru­mors and dis­sem­i­nate authen­tic and cred­i­ble sci­en­tific in­for­ma­tion to the pub­lic.

While smart ma­chines such as al­go­rithm-pow­ered scan­ners pro­vide po­tent tools to fil­ter ru­mors off cy­berspace, they can­not dis­cern whether or not the value of the in­for­ma­tion is pos­i­tive, and Cao said he be­lieves a hu­man role is still needed.

Wang Biny­ing, deputy di­rec­tor gen­eral of the in­ter­na­tional bureau of the World In­tel­lec­tual Prop­erty Or­ga­ni­za­tion, ex­pressed con­cerns over the rapid devel­op­ment of tech­nolo­gies. “Me­dia rev­o­lu­tion is driven by tech­nol­ogy and if me­dia com­mu­ni­ca­tion is to be ef­fec­tive, a solid in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty pro­tec­tion needs to form,” she said.

The in­ter­net can­not be a law­less space and the growth of the dig­i­tal econ­omy needs to be based on a trans­par­ent, com­pre­hen­sive and fair reg­u­la­tory sys­tem, she said, adding that is why WIPO is striv­ing to for­mu­late reg­u­la­tions re­lated to dig­i­tal­iza­tion.

“We must en­sure a bal­anced sys­tem for the devel­op­ment of tech­nol­ogy, which can gen­er­ate pos­i­tive re­sults,” she said.

deputy head of the Pub­lic­ity Depart­ment of the Com­mu­nist Party of China Cen­tral Com­mit­tee and pres­i­dent of China Me­dia Group, speaks at a fo­rum dur­ing the Fifth World In­ter­net Con­fer­ence in Wuzhen, Zhe­jiang prov­ince, on Thurs­day.


At­ten­dees lis­ten to a speech at a fo­rum held dur­ing the Fifth World In­ter­net Con­fer­ence in Wuzhen, Zhe­jiang prov­ince, on Thurs­day.

Shen Haix­iong,

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