Prof Zhao Yuezhi Explains How the ‘Bourgeois’ British Media Suppresses Working-Class Newpapers!
Translator’s Note: I have had the honour of communicating over the years with Prof Zhao Yuezhi who is a Mainland Chinese academic currently working in Canada. Prof Zhao is an internationally renowned ‘expert’ in ‘Communication’ and holds high office at universities in the West and in China. What follows is a short extract of a much longer article written by Zhao Yuezhi entitled ‘Hijacked “Press Freedom” and Cultural Leadership’ (赵月枝：被劫持的“新闻自由”与文化领导权) – which I have linked below. I have translated this short extract from the original Chinese-language into English. This exposes the bourgeois attitudes we are made to endure on a daily basis in the capitalist West. The British Parliament actually ‘debated’ how to ‘limit’ and ‘suppress’ working-class newspapers! Instead, the bourgeoisie resorted to the ‘economic embargo’ – exactly what the bourgeoise does today in the international arena when supposedly punishing ‘non-capitalist’ countries! Once the oxygen of advertising is ‘drained away’ the highly popular working-class papers are forced to close – the bourgeoisie then says that such papers are ‘unpopular’ and ‘no one’ wants to read them! ACW (22.2.2002)
Ad-funded media is ‘calculated liberalization’
In the West, the realization of the freedom of the press is defined as the freedom of individual citizens to run their own media. And this media is defined according to the liberal model as privately owned, advertising-supported, for-profit media. In this way, the rights of expression in the media of the general public who do not have the ability to own the media or become advertisers, including the rights of expression of the journalists employed by these media, will be subordinate to the private property rights of the media owners and the rights of expression formed on this basis. class power, which leads to a few “aristocratic” classes hijacking the people’s right to freedom of the press. Related to this, the advertising-supported media market does not operate according to the democratic logic of “one person, one vote”, but operates according to the “money owner” logic of “one dollar, one vote”. Media capital and advertisers will not inject capital and advertising costs into the media that are anti-capitalist and cater to the working and peasant classes with low spending power.
However, with regards to Western attitudes toward China, including media policy departments, academia and mainstream public opinion circles, there is a common misunderstanding that the market mechanism of the media is understood to be politically neutral and economically reductionist. What’s more, consumers in the media market are equated with “people” in a political sense. This is a typical market populist stance. Throughout the history of Western journalism, the transition from partisan media to “free” media under the open market is not a simple economic issue, but a major political issue and a process of ideological struggle. The most typical example of this is found in the history of the British press.
In the process of consolidating its ideological domination, the British bourgeoisie once faced a strategic choice of “draining” and “blocking”. Faced with the government’s monopoly and high stamp duty policies, the rising British working class publishes illegal newspapers to express its voice. The British Parliament debated how best to suppress working-class newspapers. Conservatives advocated “blocking” and increase printing costs; liberals and reformers advocated “limiting” and opening-up the media market. As a result, the reformists prevailed. After the liberalization of the market, those newspapers that spoke for the working class “naturally” (and gradually) disappeared because they were not supported by advertisers. That is to say, the institutional design of advertising-funded media itself is a political choice referred to as calculated liberalization in English, that is, deliberate liberalization. Its purpose is to suppress the media of the working class, and it is through the commercialization of the media and the liberalization of the market that the bourgeoisie consolidates its right to speak and realizes ideological leadership.
On this issue, the famous British communication scholar James Cullen has a profound analysis in the book “Media and Power” (this book has been translated in China for a long time). Cullen cites a powerful example from British press history: The Daily Herald, a radical newspaper with 4.74 million labour readers, was forced to close in the 1960s because it could not get enough advertising revenue. Significantly, this paper had more readers than three other papers that cater to the ruling and middle classes – The Times, Financial Times and The Guardian – nearly double the total readership.
It should be emphasized that what is discussed here is the issue of the class orientation of the media inherent in the mechanism of commercialization, marketization, and capitalization, and it is not the same as the subjective ideological standpoint of commercialized media people. That is to say, once the media is funded by advertisers and brought into the orbit of marketization and capitalization, the discourse power of the bourgeoisie will be established institutionally. . Of course, the subjective ideology and political stance of media owners and practitioners also matter. For example, some domestic media and networks have strong subjective selectivity when reporting “gossip news” and negative news. In the specific operation of Western media, the bourgeois tendencies inherent in the commercialization system and market mechanism often complement the subjective ideology of media owners and practitioners, thus forming a powerful bourgeois ideology and discourse hegemony.
Chinese Language Source Article: