Thursday, April 01, 2010

In information age, we need 'Web spokesmen'

15:16, April 01, 2010

Before the advent of the Internet, news was limited to sporadic coverage of major events. But the use of Internet publishing opens the window on ordinary issues that affect people's lives instead of just providing information on events deemed newsworthy. Through the employment of a relatively new phenomenon, the Web spokesman, information is provided directly to the public instead of journalists only.

"If there were Web spokesmen, the rumor of the earthquake in Shanxi would not have aroused much fear," one newspaper reported on Feb 25. By means of direct dialogue and real-time communication, a Web spokesman can release the authoritative and correct information in time, answer people's concerns, reassure the public and keep order.

Some areas do it well. On the eve of Spring Festival, the Web spokesmen of Hechuan District of Chongqing City had a dialogue with over a thousand Internet surfers. During the discussion, they talked about several things that concern the public: public works projects in 2010, city sewage treatment fee collections, public security and transportation during the Spring Festival.

On Feb. 22, when the spokesman was out of town in Changsha city, he opened the computer in the hotel, started the video camera, and answered questions from Internet surfers.

With notebook in hand, publishing the news in any time at any place, the Web spokesman has become an excellent tool to promote open government, deal with public opinion, respond to crisis and build brand image. They are by no means inferior to the news publishing system and news spokesman that are still popular to the public.

Internet news publishing is a fresh and exciting area. Based on the Internet and using multimedia technology to communicate with the public, it reflects both new concepts and new images. By means of new forms of media such as QQ, forums, blogs, twitter, etc, the Web spokesman may interact with people to a high degree.

The quality of news publishing is further assured if the Web spokesman masters the basic techniques of Internet opinion guidance and is fluent in netspeak. Internet news is best published between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m., prime time for Internet users. Besides, the Internet news has convenient operation modes and flexible means, reduces the use of resources and helps to protect the environment.

Internet news is effective and plays an important role in enhancing the government's ability in the information age. The 17th CPC National Congress put forward that the people's rights of knowledge, participation, expression and supervision should be guaranteed and enforced. Internet news publishing is an important means to achieve this objective.

When public events, sudden events and mass events come, we must have the ability to know about the facts and public opinion in a timely manner. We must analyze and do the first news publishing, push on the handling of events in three days, continually publish news to guide opinion, and carry out timely and effective crisis management. By scientifically analyzing the public opinion and answering what the people are most concerned about, we can grasp the right of speech and deal with the events effectively.

An authoritative investigation of over 3,000 people shows that more than 80 percent of them hope that their district, city and province could have Web spokesman; 64.5 percent of them think the Web spokesman shows the government pays high attention to public opinion. This shows the support of the public for Internet news publishing. It is believed that such support will be further strengthened with the improvement of Web spokesman mechanism.

(The article in original Chinese language is written by the leader of the propaganda division of the Internet bureau of the news office of the State Council)

By People's Daily Online

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