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News is not entertainment
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News loaded with entertainment betrays the principles of journalism and hurts the society, says an article in China Youth Daily. Excerpts:

As scholar Shi Tongyu said, news-as-entertainment has vitiated news circles in China.

Entertainment and news have different functions. News focuses on objective, true and responsible reporting to speedily communicate to society what has happened. Entertainment tries to make people laugh and relax.

In recent years, some media outlets have succumbed to the temptation of attracting more audiences and readers by any and all means. As a result, they have begun to overlook journalistic principles and blindly seek sensational stories based on exaggeration or even fabrication.

What these media outlets want is sensationalism, not facts or information. As long as the eyeballs of readers can be snagged, page hits of websites boosted, and viewing rates of TV programs raised, facts can be distorted. For the masses who depend on these media outlets to get news, they have to make do with what is doled out; the staff of these media are not professional, and it is often hard to separate fact from fabrication.

The public is fooled by news-as-entertainment and this has consequences for society.

News-as-entertainment has already crept into all major areas of news reporting in China such as political and social, and at times even breaking news is entertainment. It's not unusual to see a reporter file a sensational investigative report without going to the news spot.

Only when the media develops a sense of being responsible to the reading public, society and the country, can media contribute to social transition in China.

The bottom line in news should be truth. Fabricating stories is akin to adding melamine to milk, thereby threatening public health.

(China Daily June 17, 2009)

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