Xi Jinping’s News Alert: Chinese Media Must Serve the Party

By Edward Wong for the New York Times

BEIJING — The Chinese news media covered President Xi Jinping’s most recent public appearances with adulation befitting a demigod.

Front-page headlines across the nation trumpeted Mr. Xi’s visits to the headquarters of the three main Communist Party and state news organizations on Friday. Photographs showed fawning journalists crowding around Mr. Xi, who sat at an anchor’s desk at the state television network. One media official wrote the president an adoring poem.

The blanket coverage reflected the brazen and far-reaching media policy announced by Mr. Xi on his choreographed tour: The Chinese news media exists to serve as a propaganda tool for the Communist Party, and it must pledge its fealty to Mr. Xi.

Though the party has been tightening its control over the media since Mr. Xi became the top leader in late 2012, the new policy removes any doubt that in the view of the president and party chief, the media should be first and foremost a party mouthpiece. Mr. Xi wants to push the party’s message domestically — and internationally — across all media platforms, including advertising and entertainment, scholars say. That is a shift from his predecessor, Hu Jintao, who stressed the need for the state-run media to become more responsive to the modern digital environment and shape or channel public opinion.

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