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March 1994


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Sterling <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 14 Mar 1994 13:36:00 EST
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To anyone who actually cares, I thought I might pass this news blurb
which appeared in our UNC Journalist paper.
Communism meets the media
   ARe tightly controlled messages more influential than "competing
messages?"  Or, in more concrete terms, are the Chinese media, which
are more controlled, more influential than the American media, which are
among the freest in the world?
   The answer seems to be yes.  Assistant Professor Xinshu Zhao and
doctoral student Glen Bleske researched this topic for "Media Effects
under a Monopoly: The Case of Beijing in the Economic Reforms," to be
published this year in the International Journal of Public Opinion
  Athough media in the United States affect attitudes, the messages,
which are often objective, shift some people in one direction and others
in another, according to the article.  Individuals are affected, but the
net effect appears minimal.  China, on the other hand, has a more contro
lled media, with only the government viewpoint, so people are more like-
ly to adopt the government view.
    "The (Chinsese) media may not be effective enough to motivate the
Chinese public to hail the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown, or to preserve the
Leninist system forever, or to prevent democracy from eventually pre-
vailing," says the paper.  "But the gigantic machine was still power-
ful," at least during the economic reform in the mid-1980s.
    The impact of the Chinese media, say the researchers, can be explain
ed by what they call the "message competition theory."  The theory posit
s that the media have an effect, but that the effect is difficult to de
tect because some people change their minds one way, while others change
their mind the opposite way.  The net effect is neutralized.
    But such neutralization does not occur under the controlled Chinese