Something weird is happening in Chongqing. Bo Xilai, a man likely to become immensely powerful next year during the leadership transition, has made his trademark issue a revival of Maoism. Chongqing is an enormous city and an economic powerhouse, and his campaign has gotten a lot of attention. The most talked about might be the push to promote ‘red songs,’ highly patriotic Mao-era songs that long ago fell out of favor everywhere else here.
The Chinese Media Project has a translation of a report from Southern People Weekly, which goes into the details of the campaign. Bandurski also uses the article to make a point about the general state of journalism in China:
Earlier this week, Guangdong’s Southern People Weekly ran a report taking an inside look at how Chongqing Satellite TV has made a shift toward the “red” under top leader Bo Xilai’s (薄熙来) broad revival of classic Chinese Communist Party culture, with all of its political undertones.
The report is interesting for a number reasons. First of all, of course, it offers — or purports to offer — an inside perspective on changes in Chongqing, which have either joyed or disgusted Chinese in recent months, depending on who you’re listening to. It provides a picture of news journalists struggling with dwindling budgets as advertising revenues become a thing of the past (dropped by the station itself), and forced to work closely with Party and government authorities on all stories they take on.
Secondly, I think this story, which is from one of China’s most respected professional magazines, should turn attention to basic issues of professionalism. We often provide examples at this site of the courage and professionalism shown by Chinese journalists in a very difficult press climate. But it’s important to remember how far Chinese media still have to go in building up their own professional cultures, which does not necessarily have to be dictated by the political climate.