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Press Freedom News and Views

Kristin Jones

Kristin Jones, a consultant to CPJ's Asia program, is an independent investigative reporter. In 2011, she was part of a team that won a Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award for "Seeking Justice for Campus Rapes," a collaboration between NPR and the Center for Public Integrity. Jones was CPJ's senior Asia research associate until 2007. She led writing on the CPJ report "Falling Short," which documented press freedom abuses in China ahead of the 2008 Olympic Games.

Blog   |   China, Georgia

Olympics-China Media Watch: Re-education scrubbed from Web, mostly

Bob Dietz called attention to the Chinese propaganda department's recent 21-point press directive, first reported by the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong. The whole thing in English and Chinese is posted today at Berkeley's China Digital Times. Among the orders given to the domestic media during the Olympic Games is that they are not to report on the protest zones set up at three places around Beijing. This apparently holds true even if they are empty, which they are.

August 22, 2008 1:57 PM ET

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Blog   |   China

Olympics-China Media Watch: Reflecting on success

Chen Ruolin's win in the women's 10-meter platform dive today brought China's gold medal count to 46, and dominated the online headlines. With the closing ceremony just three days away, news outlets are trumpeting the unprecedented victories of the Chinese athletes, now leading their closest competitor, the United States, by 18 gold medals. They are also reflecting on what the success means.

August 21, 2008 1:30 PM ET

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Blog   |   China

Olympics-China Media Watch: Web censors crash funeral of Mao's protege

Buried in the celebration of China's now inevitable dominance of the Olympic Games, Xinhua News Agency today reported the death of a former national leader and Mao Zedong's brief successor with these few words:

The Chinese Communist Party's outstanding party member, a warrior for Communism long tested in his loyalty, a revolutionary for the proletariat, who held important posts in the party and national leadership, Comrade Hua Guofeng, because of an illness that couldn't be cured, died in Beijing on August 20, 2008 at 12:50 at the age of 87.

August 20, 2008 1:10 PM ET

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Blog   |   China

Olympics-China Media Watch: The farmer's fuel and the emperor's clothes

Even with the world enthralled in the drama of the Olympic Games, the more basic struggles in the rest of China continue to quietly unfold.

Nanfang Dushi Bao (Southern Metropolis Daily) today published a long article with little apparent connection to the Olympics, a rarity these days. It is actually re-posted from Zhejiang Daily, and tells the story of a farming family that grows vegetables near the city of Hangzhou who are having trouble this year because of the rising costs of production, including the cost of seeds, fertilizer, and fuel for the tractor.  

"Without plowing the earth, the vegetables won't grow," said farmer Wang Guokui.

The main headline on the Web site of the rest of the Southern Media Group is more typical, giving second-day coverage of hurdler Liu Xiang's painful exit from the race: "We love gold medals, we love you more." It's sweet. The New York Times reports that it's also state-mandated; propaganda officials have told news outlets to keep the tone sympathetic, lest rage at the fallen athlete provoke a nasty scene. Xinhua News Agency, voice of the State Council, published an open letter from Liu to his supporters in which he apologized for the disappointment.  

I didn't see any evidence of rage toward the stymied Olympian in a brisk stroll through the Chinese Web today. But I did find a blog post on Bullog reflecting on his clothes. Yes, his track uniform. A blogger departs from his native language to call it "fugly":

Why did they have to give him such a fugly uniform? Does the person who takes care of these things hate him?

August 19, 2008 12:34 PM ET

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Blog   |   China

Olympics-China Media Watch: Glory, disappointment, and reflection

Just as American audiences have been fixated on the performances of Michael Phelps during the Olympic Games, Chinese viewers have been anticipating the heroics of hurdler Liu Xiang. So his dropping out of the 110-meter race today with an injury was the headliner at major news outlets. Photographs of his anguished coach and shocked commentaries of his loving fans led the Web.

August 18, 2008 12:34 PM ET

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Blog   |   China

Olympics-China Media Watch: Zola live-blogs his detention

Global Voices Online noticed yesterday when guerrilla blogger Zola (Zhou Shuguang) began tweeting his own detention. His BlackBerry let the world know that local officials had intercepted him in the town of Fengmuqiao in Hunan province, and he posted updates as they forced him into a car to drive him home. If he leaves his hometown of Meitanba again, they told him, there will be trouble.

Zola is a citizen reporter who takes it upon himself to travel to places where news is happening and blog about it, relying on the kindness of strangers as he goes. (He gets around the ethical quandary this presents by refusing to call himself a journalist.)

August 15, 2008 12:30 PM ET

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Blog   |   China

Olympics-China Media Watch: Does Xinhua know gymnast's real age?

NBC coverage of the women's gymnastics team competition made incessant mention of the controversy over the Chinese athletes' ages. Are they really 16, or are they underage? And what does that say about the awful and efficient "machine" that pumps out China's Olympians? NBC announcers made sure that American viewers pondered the matter as the gold medal went to the Chinese team.

August 14, 2008 11:12 AM ET

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Blog   |   China

Olympics-China Media Watch: Look at picture, don't say a word

Bloggers in China know that certain words are easily picked out by censors' keyword searches. So they don't use them, and their posts stay up longer. But images are harder to detect, particularly if they aren't labeled.

Today, somebody calling himself Qian Tiexian started a thread at the blog aggregator Bullog with the title "Two children." The text reads only "Look at the picture, don't speak." Beneath it (just in case it has disappeared by the time you get there) are two photos. The first shows basketball star Yao Ming and the 9-year-old earthquake survivor Lin Hao walking side by side during Friday's opening ceremony. The moving image of the gentle giant and the fierce little warrior hero at the head of the Chinese national delegation is familiar to any one of the billions of people who watched the ceremony. Below it is another photo, this one of a very small boy with a cut on his face holding a handwritten sign in Chinese and English: "Shandong Huimin county government illegally sold my grandmother's house and took away the money!"

August 13, 2008 12:15 PM ET

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Blog   |   China

Olympics-China Media Watch: Careful coverage of stabbing

Despite reports of censorship, several Chinese newspapers have reported on the stabbing death in Beijing on Saturday of a relative of the U.S. men's volleyball coach. But most of the reporting has been limited to official statements. Emphasizing that the attacker acted alone, Beijing Youth Daily yesterday quoted Beijing Olympic Committee official Wang Wei in identifying the victim as the father-in-law of the U.S. coach. Early Chinese-language reports in Xinhua had simply called him a tourist.

August 12, 2008 12:35 PM ET

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Blog   |   China

Olympics-China Media Watch: Violence far from Nest

Major news coverage in China and elsewhere is naturally devoted to the Games themselves. Two Chinese weightlifters and the Chinese men's synchronized divers won gold medals today. Yesterday's news of 17 synchronized attacks with homemade explosives in the western region of Xinjiang received little coverage in or out of China.

The exception once again was Caijing, a financial news magazine that has competed strongly against both the central government's Xinhua News Agency and international news outlets. The magazine's Web site followed three articles yesterday with second-day coverage from the scene that gave added details on the deaths of an injured security guard and a Uighur civilian in the attacks, news of an official press conference, and a description of a restaurant that was destroyed in an attack: 

August 11, 2008 12:45 PM ET

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