|Title||A Trojan dragon? CCTV news in English and the battle for global influence: 2014-16|
China’s official media are nearly a decade into a global expansion programme to challenge the dominance of Anglo-American news organisations and their framing of world events. This research tackles the questions of whether Chinese media abroad deserve to be dismissed as channels for Communist Party propaganda, whether their output has journalistic merit, and whether Chinese journalism has a different character from that of the Anglosphere. The focus is on CCTV-News in English, whose ‘hard news’ output is compared with that of BBC World News TV between 2014 and 2016: previous studies of the channel have concentrated on single regions or events, political strategy or current affairs. Comparative quantitative content analysis of five constructed weeks of news is followed by frame analysis of selected events with a framework adapted to accommodate Chinese political and cultural proclivities. Subconscious editorial judgements are made manifest through a pioneering experimental technique, ‘cross-editing’, in which journalists from Britain and China swap broadcast news scripts and re-edit them as if for output on their own channel. Topics of strategic importance to Beijing are the focus of the research: news about China, and coverage of Africa including China in Africa. The empirical analysis confirms that these politically sensitive areas are handled by CCTV-News mainly in ways that are alien to editorial principles in the Anglosphere, either through lack of journalistic rigour (partial reporting and ‘positive news’) or through differences in framing such as solution-focused reporting and aversion to conflict. The analysis demonstrates the uneven editorial imperatives across CCTV-News and the improvised nature of journalistic professionalism, including how far Chinese reporters dare push the boundaries of information control. In the BBC World News output, the comparative methods reveal weaknesses in the Corporation’s professed tenets of balance and impartiality, and highlight the difficulties of telling nuanced, non-pictorial stories from distant countries while shackled by Anglo-American television ‘grammar’. The research confirms the considerable impediments to credibility occasioned by political control over CCTV’s English news output: however, it also indicates that the journalism of the Anglosphere, in the form of BBC World News, is not the universal standard many believed it to be.
|Keywords||news, journalism, global, China, CCTV, BBC, comparative, Africa|