The fourth pillar in China

Executive, judicial, legislative, journalistic? Well, since the first two in China seem to constitute one big, dissident-destroying power-house, maybe journalists really only make up the third pillar, but whether they “should” be obligated to act as a watchdog has been called into question:

A new local regulation combating official corruption and abuse of duty in Henan’s capital city of Zhengzhou makes specific mention of watchdog journalism, or “supervision by public opinion” (舆论监督), as a key form of monitoring. An article in today’s official People’s Daily notes with a hint of praise that the legislation “especially singles news media out”, saying “news units should carry out supervision by public opinion on national government personnel” […] however, The Beijing News offered a moderate dissent in an editorial by a prominent legal scholar, saying the language “should” in the media-related portion was ill-chosen and that such legislation should emphasize the right rather than the duty of media to perform a watchdog role.

It looks like the Chinese are facing the same ethical dilemmas that have faced US media – should outlets begin give people what they “want,” what “sells,” or is it their job to tell us what we really ought to hear?

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