unfree press 300x268 Chinese CEO: Unfree Media Silences ChinaCharles Zhang, CEO of Sohu.com, a Chinese internet portal, said in an interview that China’s governmental restrictions on media and internet works to make Chinese media obsolete.

Speaking at a forum in Beijing, Mr. Zhang said

Chinese newspapers and television stations completely lack meaningful competition, and have no independent personality … so they have no authority or respect.

Mr. Zhang’s contention is that because news outlets in the western world such as the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal are in competition with each other without governmental restriction, “the whole world pays attention” to them, and, more importantly, “believes it.” China, by comparison, lacks a “right to speak to the world” because news outlets have to be in compliance with government policy.

More than just being interesting, Mr. Zhang’s perspective on the state of Chinese media says a great deal to how journalism is used to classify a country. At least here in the United States, we believe that any country lacking free journalism is not free, and at least in my mind, rightfully so.

Journalism is what keeps entities honest. For example, when US newsrooms got word that the Bush Administration was tapping phone lines illegally, the government had to come forward and admit to what it had been doing. But because China doesn’t have free journalism, it’s hard to believe anything that the country’s media outlets publish because it’s almost always exactly what the government approves to be published.