By Houses and Holes:
From FT: When Liu Qibao, China’s propaganda minister, visited Sydney last month and signed a raft of deals with Australia’s top media companies, few paid much attention. But the fruits of that trip — a supplement produced by China Daily, the Communist party’s English-language mouthpiece, appearing in such bastions of free speech as the Sydney Morning Herald — lay bare the growing reach of China’s multibillion-dollar propaganda machine as it seeks to win hearts and minds across the globe. ….China Watch, the new monthly pullout in Fairfax Media newspapers, marked its inaugural issue with favourable coverage of China, including an article backing Beijing in its stand-off over contested waters in the South China Sea.
…..Controversy stoked in Australia by Beijing’s deals with Fairfax, Sky News Australia and several other local companies proves the point. Critics point to the harder edge of Beijing’s propaganda machine, with journalists imprisoned and many foreign media websites blocked at home. Some warn that publishing Chinese propaganda alongside other news could undermine their newspapers and hand Beijing commercial influence over the way Australian journalists report on China. ….Fairfax dismisses these concerns, saying China Watch is clearly labelled and no different to other advertising content. “Our commitment to providing independent, quality journalism — including on matters relating to China — remains absolute and unchanged,” it said.
Welcome to the whorehouse Downunder.
Media independence is subject to one overriding and unspoken rule: DON’T BITE THE HAND THAT FEEDS YOU. Advertisers with multi-million dollar budgets are not criticised. And journalists who ignore that rule will find themselves looking for a job. The silence of the media on health issues related to cigarette smoking, when tobacco giants were spending billions of $ on advertising, is the most obvious example but food giants like Monsanto still hold considerable sway over mainstream media. Would China be treated any differently?