14:56, April 29, 2008
Western media have been giving us a "lecture" these days. On March 14, a serial criminal act of violence involving beating, destruction of property, looting and arson took place in Lhasa, and Western media have paid it an extraordinary attention. These media organs are, among others, AFP or Agence France Presse of France, RTL and NTL stations of Germany, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) of Britain, and the "Washington Post" and CNN of the United States.
The masses of readers or viewers, nevertheless, can hardly understand these reports released at the great length: how can the obviously homicide and arson committed by a few law-breakers be cited as the "peaceful protests" and how can frenzied assaults lashed against law-enforcing personnel without hitting back when struck be said to suppress Tibetans by the Chinese government, and how the arrest of foreign protestors by police in a neighboring country be imposed on the "head" of Tibet?…
What is even worse, CNN host Jack Cafferty maliciously attacked the Chinese products as "junk" and the Chinese people as the "basically the same bunch of goons and thugs they’ve been for the last 50 years". He is simply curses and swears in the way "like a shrew letting loose a stream of abuse in the street."
Therefore, ordinary people in China cannot stand any more what the Western media have been doing and, hence they quietly collect and sort out huge amounts of ironclad evidences and return with a forceful rebuttal and an exposure of Western media’s false reports on the Internet. Meanwhile, nationals of the Chinese origin and the Chinese expatriates and students held mammoth but civic virtue protests and demonstrations in the U.S., Britain, Germany and France to lodge protests with the distorted reports of Western media.
Rebuttals given by Chinese netizens and protests by Chinese expatriates (and students) worldwide are unprecedented either in term of scale or in term of effect, which have far exceeded the expectations of cocky, arrogant media people in the West. So, I would very much like to raise two questions for people to ponder over for a long period of time.
First, how to recognize the press freedom of the West as well as the objectivity and fairness it has flaunted, and this poses a question of theory. People with a journalism career in the West have all along claimed that the West has press freedom whereas there is no such freedom in China; news coverage in the West underscores objectivity and fairness, whereas there is only propaganda or preaching in China. So, with the passage of time, some of my peers feel it difficult to be bold and confident with what they say. Theory should guide practice nevertheless.
In view of some Western mainstream media reports on the March 14 incident that occurred in Lhasa, evidently there is a world of difference between what they say and what they do, and is "press freedom" the "freedom to spread rumors", the "freedom to tell lies", the "freedom to make distortions " or the "freedom to "vilify" or "spread slanders". If news reports cannot respect basic facts, how can they talk glibly about "objectivity and fairness"?
Second, to compare China’s news reports on a par with Western media reports, which are getting closer to the objective reality? And we often hear many friends from the West say what they see in China differs greatly from what they have read in media reports in their own countries. This is also the case of counter-evidence with some politicians in the West, who often attacked China during their election races, but they, as a matter of fact, get much closer to China once they are in power.
There is apparently a striking contrast in the reports of Western media and Chinese media on the March 14 Lhasa incident, and ours get much closer to the evidences. Hence, we have more reasons to say that China’s media reports are much closer to the objective reality than those reports of the West, and this judgment is based entirely on facts.
As a one-time teacher of professional journalism at university, I used to try hard to enunciate on the subject, but I found it difficult to get it into depth, and also discovered most of my students had the poor, inadequate understanding in this regard. The reasons we learned from the Internet this time have even enabled commoners in China to acquire an in-depth understanding, let alone the students of journalism, and I indeed have a sense of joy from the bottom of my heart. This achievement, however, should be ascribed to some Western media, as they have given us a "lesson" with varied, lively and very incisive contents, and given us free of charge.
By People’s Daily Online and its author is Shen Xinggeng, senior PD desk editor