[Viewpoint] China brings media elite together

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[Viewpoint] China brings media elite together

A three-day “media Olympics” opened in Beijing, China yesterday.

Hosted by China’s Xinhua News Agency, the World Media Summit (WMS) is attended by over 170 Chinese and foreign media organizations, including 132 foreign companies from 69 countries.

While last year’s Beijing Olympics was an international sporting festival, the WMS is a celebration of media around the world, with participation of many prestigious newspapers, magazines, wire services and radio and television broadcasters.

Participants include The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, News Corporation, CNN, The Associated Press, NBC and Google from the United States, and BBC, the Financial Times and Reuters from the United Kingdom. NHK, the Nihon Keizai and Kyodo News from Japan are also attending.

Owners and presidents of the influential media around the world, including global media mogul Rupert Murdoch, have flown into Beijing to attend the event.

The JoongAng Ilbo and Yonhap News Agency were invited from Korea.

The event is garnering international attention for several reasons.

First of all, media integration has emerged as one of the most pressing questions faced today.

There was a time when media industries all over the world had separately operating newspaper, broadcasting, wire and publishing sectors. However, the World Media Summit brings together not just the newspapers, broadcasters and wire services but also the Internet media. The host clearly worked hard to reflect the trend of media convergence.

The summit put a heavy emphasis on the coexistence, competition, dependency and convergence of the traditional media and new media. Especially, it is unprecedented to include Google and other emerging Internet media in a gathering of prestigious mainstream media.

Having been blessed with information technology, Google’s presence is highly recognized as a member of the WMS Secretariat, which is composed of representatives from Xinhua, News Corporation, the BBC and The AP.

It is also noteworthy that China is pursuing ambitious media reconstruction strategies by planning and hosting such a large-scale event.

In fact, China still remains a frontier on the worldwide media map, and its role has been focused as a consumer of news generated by the likes of CNN, the BBC and The AP.

China’s voice in the international community thus far has been limited.

However, China is gearing up step by step to play a leading role in the media industry based on its newly attained economic power and rapid development.

The move became more apparent after Chinese President Hu Jintao ordered in September 2008 that the country improve the globalization capacity of its media to suit China’s elevated status.

The Chinese government provided 45 billion RMB, about $6.6 billion, in subsidies to the major media.

The government broke off the network broadcasting monopoly of China Central Television (CCTV), the state television broadcaster in mainland China, and allowed the Xinhua News Agency to expand to a nationwide broadcasting channel.

The government gave an opportunity to a broadcasting company that was ready to expand and equipped with the necessary channels.

Moreover, the state-owned Shanghai Media Group (SMG) spun off its for-profit business and provided extensive financial assistance in order to develop a global media giant.

A quiet revolution is taking place in the global media industry. What will be the lesson for Korea to learn at this historic event?

*The writer is the Beijing correspondent of the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Chang Se-jeong

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