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Experts Call for Balanced Media
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An imbalance in global reporting is leading to the world being bombarded with the language of the White House, a senior media expert said at the Boao Forum for Asia annual conference over the weekend.


Phrases such as "weapons of mass destruction" and "war on terror" are commonly used by people around the globe these years, but they had their origins in White House documents, Li Xiguang, an expert in international media studies with Tsinghua University who was attending forum, said.


He said that the dominance of Western reporting meant that important human rights stories, such as the spread of HIV, world poverty and children's issues, were being neglected.


Speaking at a session entitled "Asian Media Integration", co-sponsored by the BFA and China Daily, Li said that media integration would lead only to the concentration of services within fewer media empires in fewer countries.


A truly free media should be a diversity of voices and cultures to ensure the voices of weaker nations are heard, he said.


Li's view was shared by many panelists at the session.


Rivindra Kumar, editor and managing director of India's The Statesman newspaper, said: "Global media reporting needs a local perspective, so that we at least get an Asian point of view on the news that is covered."


While Asian countries account for 60 percent of the world's population, almost two-thirds of the information flow comes from the developed world, reducing the Asian voice to barely a whisper.


Other panelists said that as Asia has the fastest growing economies in the world and has provided the engine for global economic development, it deserves better media coverage by news organizations in the region.


Liu Jiang, vice-editor-in-chief of the Xinhua News Agency, said: "The voice of Asian people asking for peace, development and cooperation should be heard through our media reports."


To reverse the trend, experts in the field called on Asia's media to strengthen regional cooperation and to make world news coverage fairer and more reasonable.


Zhu Yinghuang, former editor-in-chief of China Daily, said: "While the trend of information integration has become irresistible in this age of globalization, Asian media should strengthen their own reporting endeavors and forge closer partnerships to counterbalance powerful Western media empires."


According to media leaders, cooperative projects such as the Asia News Network (ANN) can help strengthen the region's position in the global market.


Established eight years ago, ANN's membership has grown from seven to 15 newspapers, and represents nations that account for about half the world's population.


Besides forging partnerships, Riyadi Suparno of Indonesia's Jakarta Post said that stronger Asian media organizations, especially those with sufficient resources, should expand their coverage beyond Asia.


"In this way, we can reduce the domination or monopoly of information generation and supply from developed countries in Europe and North America," he said in an interview last week.


While acknowledging that the digital era has intensified the information war between Western and Asian points of view, media experts say it also provides opportunities for Asian media to steal a march on the competition.


Zhu said: "While Asian media lagged behind their Western counterparts in the first round of the information revolution, the emergence of better Internet technologies and instant news reporting has given them more opportunities to have our voices heard on time."


In China, some 130 million people spend an average of 16.5 hours per week online, more than the average for people in many developed countries.


Felix Soh, deputy editor of the Singapore-based Straits Times, shares Zhu's view.


He said that to play a leading role in global media integration, Asian companies must break new ground in both the mainstream and digital media by mastering new technologies.


"The Internet gives Asian media a big advantage over Western companies," Felix said.


(China Daily April 23, 2007)


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