The debate over the rise of China’s Xinhua as a major global news empire never seems to end.
Newsweek this month published a piece on the aspirations of the state-run organization under the headline “All the propaganda that’s fit to print.”
It talks about the deals Xinhua is making around the world with news agencies in Cuba, Malaysia, Mongolia and Turkey, providing them with articles, photos and videos.
The clearest view in the article comes from Jim Laurie, my former boss and now a consultant for China Central Television.
“I’m not convinced [censorship] makes a whole lot of difference [for video and pictures]… Bottom line is so important. If you see a source of video that is reasonably good, reasonably reliable, and reasonably inexpensive, you’ll access it.”
Xinhua, with all the money it has behind it, will undoubtedly fill the gaps left behind by U.S. media, who are fast pulling back their bureaus in the wake of cost cutting. Its litmus test for credibility remains the most critical question: How will it cover crises in its own backyard?