Monthly Archives: February 2011

Calling Winston Smith: New marching order from Ministry of Truth (China)

Thanks to China Digital News for the latest update on directives about what media are and are not allowed to run.

Here are some samples. And you will notice, that with each of these items, there is nothing that says the information is false. The central authorities just don’t want the information to get out.

You sure don’t want anyone to know that maybe a party picked candidate is not qualified.

Candidates for Representative at People’s Congress

February 21, 2011

From the State Council Information Office: Please delete all posts related to the item “Candidates for Representative at the People’s Congress Have No Legal Standing” found on any website or interactive space, including micro-blogs, blogs, online forums, breaking news services, and text messages.

The last thing a central government concerned with “stability” wants is any discussion of higher fuel costs.

Fuel Price Increases

February 19, 2011

From the State Council Information Office: For news on the fuel price increases issued by the National Development and Reform Commission, all websites are requested to close commentaries and news postings. Delete all related discussions on platforms such as micro-blogs, blogs, online forums, instant message services, and text messages.

I’m not sure what “leather milk” is but it sure upsets the central censors.

“Leather Milk”

February 18, 2011

From the State Council Information Office: Please immediately remove all news related to “leather milk” from the front pages of websites. Interactive spaces such as online forums, blogs, micro-blogs, and text messages are forbidden from hyping and discussing this incident.

And my favorite that many in the U.S. would like to see implemented in the States. (But that pesky First Amendment keeps getting in the way.)

WikiLeaks

February 17, 2011

From the State Council Information Office: It is not permitted in any form to repost or report information related to the distorted reports and malicious hype found on WikiLeaks that implicate the diplomacy, exchange reserves and investments, and other sensitive problems. All on-line interactive spaces are to thoroughly search out this type of information and immediately delete it.

Again, note that there is nothing in the “orders” that imply or state flat out that any of the information is false or misleading. The only thing the government wants is for no one in China to hear about these things.

Oh, and “jasmine” continues to be blocked by the Internet censors.

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Filed under Censorship, China, Press Freedom

China reacts to microblogging

To no one’s surprise, the Chinese leadership sees microblogging as a tool to destroy China. And events in Egypt and Libya are just more “evidence” of that belief.

China Digital Times has a series of articles about how Beijing is reacting to the use of microblogging sites such as Twitter in the uprisings in Egypt and Libya. They are well worth a read.

Microblogging in China and Egypt: Two Views

From China Media Project director Ying Chan:

Despite all attempts by the leadership to stifle the discussion and “guide” public opinion, however, popular voices demanding the truth and pushing for greater openness have only increased. On the virtual public square of the Internet, Chinese explore sensitive issues through the constant invention and re-invention of memes, so that keyword blocking becomes largely irrelevant; they use proxy servers to get around censorship and post what they wish.

The gap between the people and the government is deepening as well, a divide compounding the gaps between rich and poor, and between the city and countryside.

From People’s Daily columnist Li Hongmei:

Just give another thought to the case of Egypt, the Western media again never hesitate to cash in on the idea that the Egyptian uprising was Internet Revolution, and it was Twitter and Face book that helped spur on international coverage of the events unfolding, which ultimately led to the downfall of Hosni Mubarak. However, the West pays no heed to the true feeling of the ordinary Egyptians who actually have no access to computers, and pushed to streets by the few elites with some idea of reform enlightened by the Western-style democracy, and motivated to follow suit by the slogans and symbols which sound all alien to their knowledge.

Kinda sounds as if the official Chinese line is that democracy is alien to Arabs and therefore they (the Arabs) shouldn’t have it.

In another article (China Official Warns Of Domestic Unrest And “Hostile” West) the party leadership pulls out all the stops:

Chen Jiping, deputy secretary general of the Communist Party’s Political and Legal Affairs Committee:

“The schemes of some hostile Western forces attempting to Western and split us are intensifying, and they are waving the banner of defending rights to meddle in domestic conflicts and maliciously create all kinds of incidents.”

And, of course, those “schemes” are all being carried out by the use of unfettered Tweets.

There are a whole series of updates and commentaries at the CDN site about China’s reaction to blogs and microblogs:

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Filed under Censorship, China, International News Coverage

Being a journalist is an act of courage – Dilma Rousseff

Folha celebrated 90 years of publishing this week. Attending their birthday party were all the top names of Brazil, including President Dilma Rousseff. (Use CHROME and Google Translate if your Portuguese is rusty.)

As expected, even the political figures who had major disagreements with the press pointed out that a free press is necessary for democracy to survive and grow.

Dilma went further to say that being a journalist is an act of courage.

“Censorship forced the first Brazilian newspaper to be printed in London in 1808,” she said.

Dilma added that circulating the newspaper De Libero Badaro at that time by journalist Vladimir Herzog in Brazil was an act of courage.

“Free, pluralistic and investigative press is essential for democracy in a country like ours.”

For the president and anyone over the age of 40, the lessons of dictatorships are personal. It wasn’t until 1985 when the dictatorship was overthrown for a democracy in Brazil.

The protection of civil and political rights remains a top priority for many in the leadership and especially among the news media.

The president noted that even when the media are critical of her and her policies, she prefers the voices criticism from a free press to silence imposed by the dictatorships.

A free press and investigative pluralism, it is essential to democracy in a country like ours, which besides being a continental country, is a country that embraces cultural differences despite our unit. A government must learn to live with the criticism of the newspapers to have a real commitment to democracy. Because democracy demands above this contradiction, and I repeat again: the civilized coexistence, with the multiplicity of opinions, beliefs and aspirations.

And unlike many other politicians who mouth the words of support for free and independent media, I really think Dilma means it.

Of course we will have to see how she handle the whole Social Control thing started by former president Lula. For now Dilma is not even putting the plan on the stove let alone the back burner. There are still leading members of the ruling PT that would like to keep the plan alive but who so far have been held back by a practical president.

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Filed under Press Freedom, South America

Threats leveled against Nicaraguan journalists

Seems El Nuevo Diario is rubbing some people the wrong way.

Some one leveled a death threat against reporter and editor Luis Galeano first by phone and then by hand-delivered package.

And the whole issue: Galeano was looking into irregularities in the Nicaraguan Central Elections Commission.

Journalist receives death threats

For non-Spanish speakers (or those like me working to get my Spanish back) Google Translate gives a rough translation of the situation but enough to understand it.

Irregularities at the elections commission take on a more heated nature this year. The country is heading for elections in November and there are already claims from the opposition that some hanky-panky is  going on. Enough that just as the year started — 11 months before the election — opposition parties were calling for international observers.

Liberals call for international observation of elections in Nicaragua

President Daniel Ortega — yes, that Ortega of 1980s fame — was clearly upset with such calls.

“We are tired of interventions,” he told local media. “If you want to come (foreign observers) to join us, join us, but we want drivers of our elections.”

He added that “the best observers” are the representatives of the political forces at the polling stations.

Unfortunately, the intentions of Ortega and his party are quite clear: Never give up the power again. (And for free journalism, this is not a good thing.)

Ortega got his rubber-stamp courts to let him run for re-election even though it is against the constitution.

And perhaps more telling are the comments of Ortega’s pal Tomas Borge, the last living founder of the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN). He said last year that giving up power, when they were voted out of office in 1990, was a mistake that should never be repeated.

And that is why a story about some strange goings on in the election commission is so important and so dangerous to the ruling elite.

P.S. A special thanks to @bloggingsbyboz for his Tweet on this.

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Filed under Central America, Corruption, Harassment

Female war correspondents: Beyond the Logan episode

Many thanks to Kim Barker of the Chicago Tribune for her piece in ProPublica and the New York Times last week on female war correspondents.

Female Foreign Correspondents’ Code of Silence, Finally Broken

Anyone who has lived or worked in an uber-male dominated society can imagine the harassment and hassles these women face. I join with Barker in praising Logan for speaking out.

Unfortunately, the actions of those who molested Logan and other female correspondents seem to have opened up two lines of commentary that is both uncivil and stupid.

While most comments that have flooded the websites of news organizations have been supportive of Lara Logan, some have been down right racist and misogynistic

NPR Ombudsman Alicia C. Shepard talked about how NPR had to take down some comments from its website and has to come up with a new way to monitor the comments because of the uncivil actions of a few.

NPR Struggling with Crude Behavior by Some Users of Its Web Site

And don’t think for a minute the women who volunteer to go into war zones don’t know what they are getting into. So there is none of this “being politically correct” crap.

Male reporters have faced beatings and assaults while covering events in Egypt and Bahrain. But no one is saying that maybe the news organization should not send them to cover the story.

As Barker points out, sometimes the female correspondents come back with stories that their male counterparts either don’t think about or can’t get.

Without female correspondents in war zones, the experiences of women there may be only a rumor.

Look at the articles about women who set themselves on fire in Afghanistan to protest their arranged marriages, or about girls being maimed by fundamentalists, about child marriage in India, about rape in Congo and Haiti. Female journalists often tell those stories in the most compelling ways, because abused women are sometimes more comfortable talking to them. And those stories are at least as important as accounts of battles.

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Filed under International News Coverage