Press Freedom in China? working on it!


I have been working with the Global Journalist Show since the last semester, and on April. 14 our show is going to be on press freedom. When it comes to this topic, China has to be on sport light. Our producer finds this great guest, Xi Yue, who had worked for AP Beijing bureau for three years and now pursuing his master’s degree at Missouri School of Journalism.

The producers think it a good idea to interview him in Mandarin and make it an extended version of our show. And as I speak Mandarin Chinese, I will be hosting the extended show. YAY!

I have been talking with Xi Yue recently in order to get familiar with him. Also, I’ve always wanted to work at a foreign bureau in Asia, so I really want to learn about Xi’s experiences.

His reporting experiences, as he put it, is pretty normal. But as a Chinese reporter working for a foreign news media, Xi had to be very careful about what he wrote about. Chinese reporters, after all, are Chinese citizens. They don’t have any protection from the county where the readers are. Once in a while, representatives from the propaganda department would meet with these reporters working for foreign media to ask for their “corporation”, basically to tell them not to go across the line and there would be consequences of they do.

I have a friend who used to work for Reuters Beijing. He didn’t scare me with any horror stories of disciplined journalists. He left Reuters majorly for the little opportunity of promotions. Just a quick mention, this guy had graduated from the second ranking university in China. He said that it’s hard for him to do much more than some typical boring analysis. And the big stories are for the correspondences of the foreign country.

An article on Economist early this year says that China has tightened its control over words across Chinese media in the fear that movements in Egypt could stir turbulence in this country. However, the control over Chinese media was loosen up during the Beijing Olympic Game. Also, trace has been there among the Chinese media to somehow show their independence, well, once in a while.

For example, during U.S. President Obama’s trip to China, Chinese media were “highly suggested” not to talk about human rights. A Chinese newspaper “Nanfang Zhoumo”, left its one page blank, where they would have put the stories about Obama’s trip. The blank page indicates the upset and irony toward the requirement from the central government not to talk about human rights.

And if you understand Mandarin Chinese and want to know more on Chinese press freedom, here’s a link of the extended version of Global Journalist Show which comes up on April.14.

I still have to say that China needs time to reform. There are just so many items on the to-do list. Think about the Partisan Journalism era of America, media used to be tools in America as well. Especially, unity and collective spirit are rooted in the minds of Chinese people. It takes time for the media and Chinese people as whole to adopt new concepts.


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