Blunt and open microblogs complement old media

By Dr. Liu Shengjun
0 CommentsPrint E-mail Global Times, May 9, 2011
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The popularity of microblogs is one of the most talked about issues in China in 2011. The selection of Sina's CEO Cao Guowei as one of Time's 100 most influential people suggests the rising power of microblog services in China. announced that total number of its microblog subscribers exceeded 100 million on March 3, 2011.

Celebrities, economists and business tycoons have all fallen under its spell. Actress Yao Chen enjoys a record number of more than 7 million followers, while tycoons Wang Shi and Ren Zhiqiang and economist Xu Xiaonian and Chen Zhiwu all have more than a million followers.

Microblogs are far from being just a popular social outlet in China, but are seen by many netizens, to be complimentary to the traditional media.

People are given more freedom when expressing ideas on microblogs. Critical voices that can seldom be heard in the mainstream media have become routine for microbloggers.

Microblogs are like a mirror, reflecting the shortcomings of traditional media, which are usually formal and serious.

First, reporting in the traditional media put too much emphasis on guiding public opinion, leaving little space for the freedom of speech.

Actually, there is no need to worry too much that public might be misguided or incited online, as some commentators often like to claim, because truth only can be gleaned from lively debates.

On the contrast, the only way to avoid public opinion from going to extremes is to allow everyone to have the right to say what they want in a relatively rational way.

For instance, the Chinese people have had one huge question as the country changed from the planned economy to the market economy over the past 30 years.

Is corruption a result of market-oriented reform or a result of insufficient reform? It's the open mass discussions over such issue that can put the reforms back on the right track, not dead silence.

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