Archive for the ‘Opinion’ Category

Investigative Journalism in China 



Chinese journalists intervieweng

A Commitment to the Public Interest and the Truth

Despite the depressing factors mentioned above, there are still many cases that Chinese investigative journalists bravely confronted vested interests and exposed wrongdoings with striking integrity. There exist positive dynamics that facilitate serious investigative journalism practicing in China.

1. Chinese investigative journalists are seen as models of professional practice.

Revealing social injustice and official wrongdoing in favor of the public, even at considerable personal sacrifice, Chinese Investigative journalists have established a reputation and are signalized as the professional ideology for journalists. Therefore, successful investigative journalists enjoy high prestige and social status both from the public and in the journalistic circle. Furthermore, they are better paid than their peers.

For example, most Chinese journalistic undergraduate pride themselves in getting an internship in prestigious investigative newspapers like Southern Metropolitan Daily. The newspaper itself is recognized as an ‘‘excellent training school’’ for journalists, its staff can enjoy the opportunities for ‘‘professional excellence’’ there. (Fan, 2005, p. 373)


The cover page of Southern Weekend in 2006

Also, journalists who left Southern Metropolitan Daly or Southern weekend have mostly been hired as high-ranking staff in other media organizations. (Liu, et al., 2004)

The professional ideology has kept encouraging more and more young journalists to follow, thus providing continued vigour for investigative journalism in China.

2. Chinese tradition of public intellectuals articulating society’s conscience

 The media scholar Hugo DE Borgh has commented that Chinese investigative journalists have been striving to realize roles traditional to Chinese culture, rather than adopting foreign models.

Similarly, as Tong and Sparks (2009) mentioned, in Chinese history, there has been a tradition that intellectuals speak for the public against the authorities. Recently in China, Journalists consider themselves less as docile hacks and more as public servants. To some extent, it can be perceived that this morality originates from this Chinese tradition, that intellectuals should articulate society’s conscience. This responsibility made many Chinese investigative journalists remain committed to seeking the truth.

 The Internet has boomed investigative journalism

The most prominent change is the use of the Internet. The Internet has aided the development of investigative journalism in two aspects.

Firstly, the Internet provides a good source of stories. For instance, at the Southern Metropolitan Daily more than 80 per cent of investigative reports originate from online sources. (Tong and Sparks, 2009)

Secondly, the Internet can give stories access to a much wider audience. In traditional media outlets, like local newspapers and TVs, audience is limited to residence in a certain area. But if an investigative report is posted on the web, people from worldwide can learn the story, thereby exerting a more profound influence.

China has the world's largest netizen population


The 2007 case of Shanxi Brickfield Slave Scandal is a good example of the Internet effect. In May, a journalist from a local TV found a story from a local online forum that the brick-making industrialists in Shanxi province were forcing workers working in slavery. The journalist produced an investigative reportage and broadcast it on TV.

“Although these stories attracted the attention of the locals, they found no wider coverage and failed to trigger any official action against the slave owners.” On 5 June, however, a user posted the story on the influential Tianya online forum and promoted it strongly. “This led to an outcry that forced the central party leadership to intervene. Dozens of slaves, including many children, were freed, and employers and officials were punished.” (Tong and Sparks, 2009, p.346)


In sum, investigative journalism in China has flourished in the late 30 years,  investigative journalists enjoy high social status and high payment, the Chinese tradition has been prompting many journalists to make commitment to their course and public interest. To retain practice, some cautious strategies have been adopted. The emergence of the Internet is a boomed in investigative journalism.


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Fake relative service for wedding ceremonies in Shenyang

In China, a wedding is extraordinary significant. It is a sign of grown up and a mark for a new phase of life. Almost all relatives of the bride and groom will attend the ceremony, witness their happiness and send hopes for the young couple. In Shenyang, a metropolis in Northeastern China, I attended a wedding ceremony.


The Dinning table at a Chinese wedding ceremony

A moving wedding ceremony

At Shenyang Wedding Hall, a wedding ceremony is in progress. On the stage, an emcee congratulated the bride and groom. Guests were elegantly dressed, happily taken photos with the newly-weds.

At the peak of the ceremony, the bride’s father was about to deliver a speech. The man, in his 60s, recalled the growth of his daughter from a new-born baby, a child of a toddle, a primary school girl right away to this young woman in her wedding dress now, every important moment in her life. His shaking tone and shining tears made guests deeply moved.

“When the bride’s father gave her hand to the groom, I cried.” A woman guest, Li Xiang, said it was a very emotional moment. All guests applauded and gave their regards to the newly married.

However, on this occasion, many guests, including Li Xiang, were fake relatives. The bride’s father never met the bride before the ceremony, he is an actor. The detail of the bride’s life-as in “her father’s” speech – is written by the girl herself and gave to a wedding agency she commissioned. The wedding agency hired actors and actress specifically for this day to play the bride’s relatives. Shortly before the wedding, actors were instructed on how to play their roles.

“I learnt to treasure what I’ve got in my own life by acting as others”

Li Xiang, 23, works routinely as a teacher in a kindergarten. She played as the bride’s fake sister, and cried for the couple in the ceremony. Was the tear she shed for the bride true or acting skills? I asked.

“This is the first time I’ve played others. Before the ceremony, I had to get well-prepared. I had to understand what my behavior should be as a younger sister, I contemplate this person’s character and personality, such as which attitude I should take when speaking to her; I have to memories all the trifle information of both hers and mine, like her nickname, how many years she is older than me, her education information, etc, it is tiring but interesting.”

Li Xiang said that at first, she was nervous, fearing that any mistake would sell her out. But as the wedding went on, she gradually forgot nervousness and was buried in the excitement and happiness in the wedding hall. When the “father” recalled every little detail of the girl’s growth, she suddenly thought of her parents, being caring and nice all the time, standing on her side no matter what happened.

“That moment I just realized how happy I am with my parents’ love. In this sense, I have learned a lesson from this experience, which is worthwhile. I think other guests had also learnt something because not only me, many cried, both the real and fake relatives.

Li Xiang told me her involvement in this fake relative service was not for economic reason,   because what I earned from that was trifle that she couldn’t make a living from it. At first she applied out of curiosity but as time went by she benefited from it. “Playing others, makes you feel like one of those charming actresses on TV. But when I actually knew more about this activity, I can better understand the meaning of life by getting to understand others’ life. This experience made me treasure my parents, friends and what I’ve got in my own life.”

“I did it to help people achieve their happiness.”

Li Xiang told me the company hiring her is run by a young man called Chen Chen. Once a newspaper journalist, he found great demand for fake relatives in wedding ceremonies during his experience. Three years ago, he launched this firm providing faking relative service for newly- weds.

In his small office inside a flat, Chen accepted my interview request quite willingly. He told me why many new couples need fake relative to appear in their wedding.

 “One of the reasons is that nowadays the life pace for young people is too fast. In the highly competitive working environment, young people usually have to work extra times to prove their value and diligence. After work, there’s little time for relax and social life, generally, more and more people lost contacts with relatives, classmates and friends. Until getting married, they suddenly recognized few people are attending the ceremony, which is quite an embarrassment. That’s why they have to hire actors and actress to play as their relatives to attend the wedding.”

Chen also said an alternative reason is that people want to hide shameful aspects inside a family from others. As an old Chinese saying puts: “Do not wash your dirty linen in public”.

“Here is one impressive case, my client was a young man. Before marriage, he was introduced to his girlfriend’s parents. They quite liked him but asked to meet his parents talking about the preparation of the wedding ceremony. This put him in predicament because from an early age, his father has dumped this young man and his mother and married to another woman. They haven’t contacted each other since then.”

“The young man considered it a shame and wouldn’t mention this to others. He was also concerned that her girlfriend’s parents would marry their daughter to a man from an incomplete family. He asked us to help him. I chose one of our agents with a similar appearance and almost the age of the young man’s father. He memorise all the young man’s personal information and prepared suitable answer for any possible questions. The meeting turned out to be satisfactory, the agent even attend the young man’s wedding, as his father, of course.”

I asked Chen if he feels sorry for the bride he has deceived. Hesitated for a while, he answered that there is an element of deception that always made him uncomfortable. But he would rather put his activity in another way – to help those in need.

 “All I have been doing is non profitable, not for my own interest. We just want to help people in desperate need, help them to achieve their happiness otherwise they would miss at such a close distance. Imagine how disappointed they will be if their happiness just slip out of their hands. Therefore I believe what I did.

“I was guilty to my boyfriend but I cared more about my respect.”

In the case in the beginning of this article, the bride hired fake relatives in her wedding. In a café, She accepted my interview request secretly, under condition that her name unwritten.

“All my families are farmers; I would also have been a farmer if I hadn’t made my way to university and found a job in Shenyang. I couldn’t tell my boyfriend’s family because both his parents are high-ranking government official. I fear that his parents would not accept a daughter-in-law with farmer background. I love my boyfriend, I have to eliminate every factor that can ruin the wedding. In order to get married to him, I had to have proper parents. That’s why I contacted this agency and asked for help.”

The bride confessed that she employed Chen’s agency. Chen provided angents to act as guests to attend the wedding. Five the agents acted as her parents, her sister and her one uncle and  two aunts. They were all convinced.

“I was guilty to my boyfriend but I cared more about if I can receive respect from him and his family.”

I asked her if she will finally confess to her partner and his family, she replied instantly that she would confess for sure “if the timing is good” because “lies could never become the truth”.

Analyzing the Cause of “fake relative service”

Chen Chen told me, he has helped over 300 clients so far. Besides his company, there are almost 20 firms doing the same business in Shenyang. Reports say that “fake relative service” is also present at other parts of China. It’s wise to consider it as a significant social phenomenon, or recent social problem, as Cheng Jin, the assistant professor for sociology in Liaoning University, pointed out.

Cheng explains the “fake relative service” is an extension of the “face” issue, a desire for recognition from others, which is deeply rooted in the Chinese culture.

Chinese always feel being judged by people around

“The Chinese take “face” seriously. Unlike the individualism in the western world, Chinese people care more about what people around judge them. In an early age, Chinese kids are taught that other people are watching, they really dread bad remarks from others.

“In this case, a wedding is a social, family event rather than a personal event, where a good social representation has to be completed. Therefore, if you don’t have “proper”, “respectful” parents or relatives at the wedding, or the failure to hide your family shame will cause neighbors talking or teasing behind your back – a shame for both families;  even worse, it will make families of your partners loath you, possibly cause damage to post-marriage life.”



The Chinese people are quite sensitive about how they present themselves in public. The sense of “protection of face” constantly gives people so much pressure that they have to consort to fake ways.

On the other hand, due to the economic and social development, fast-paced lifestyle and heavy pressure from work make many young people isolated, social and family bonds are withering, the relationship between relatives are becoming weak.

The two factors give rise to the phenomenon of “fake relative service”, which may seem weird and ridiculous in elsewhere in the world. However, the cause of it – an increasingly social disconnect –  seems a universal problem worldwide.

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Beijing Olympic Legacy

Beijing Olympic Games have passed for almost four years. China’s capital has benefited significantly from the halo in aspects of improved infrastructure and blossoming culture diversity. But critics say that the heritage has not been matched by the environment – the grey skies still exist, and China’s post-Games economic growth has slowed.

Bird Nest Stadium in Post Olympic era

In order to contemplate what legacy the Olympics have left behind, I asked four experts about how the Olympic legacy has changed Beijing – from its culture, economy to the environment.

Unexpected Economic Disappointment

Tourism missed an expected boom

In retrospect, the last 11 Olympics host countries have all suffered from slow economic growth after the Games. Beijing is not lucky enough to escape the ”Curse of the Rings“. The worldwide economic bust has hit post-Olympics China as well.


No example can be more illustrative than the tourism sector. Zhang Xiaoxue is a senior manager from Beijing Association of Travel Services. She told me that the financial crisis has hit Beijing’s overseas tourism hard.

“After the Games, travel agencies and hotels anticipated a surge in Olympic-related visitors. But we were disappointed when the influx of travellers never reached previous anticipation because of the gloomy economic situation.”

According to Zhang, for the recent three years, even some of the city’s glamorous hotels have stumped up half price offer to attract travellers. “In low season for travellers, such as summer, hotels on average have had just less than 10 percent occupancy.”

Environmental Achievement and Vision

Li Jiao is the Director of Beijing-based organisation Greenpeace China campaigning for environment protection. To her, the greatest heritage of the Olympics is two-fold.

“Firstly, the strict anti-pollution regulations brought blue sky and fresh air back; secondly, under the push for a ‘Green’ Olympics, the awareness of people and the government about the importance of environment has been heightened.”

Beijing’s effort has won recognition worldwide. According to the recent report released by the British organization Clickgreen, the air pollution control put in place in Beijing during the 2008 Olympic Games has halved the lifetime risk of lung cancer for locals from certain inhaled pollutants.

However, Li is now concerned that the improvement was just like a flurry of excitement, given that post-Olympics pollution has deteriorated, “Some indicators have come down; on some days the air still smells acrid and buildings just a few hundred metres away can appear smudged in smog.”

She emphasizes the real environmental legacy lies in years beyond 2008. “‘Green Olympics’ is not merely for today, but also for tomorrow. Only by taking long-term, persistent efforts can the Green Olympics actually have a concrete impact.”

 Furthermore, Successful environmental measures in Beijing need to be extended to other developing cities across China.

“Every civilian needs to recognise his indispensible role in taking environmental action. Only by concerted cooperation and extensive participation can we truly ‘green’ our homeland. “

Cultural and psychological impact

the Games have raised the nation's confidence

The event has set the stage for a more diverse and tolerant cultural atmosphere in the capital. Beijing resident and artist Zhu Xiaoxue comments as follow,

”Now I have greater opportunities to attend various high-quality exhibitions, and art works of the domestic artists are more tolerated , which would help boost artistic growth in every field, the diversity which should have been rooted in a Socialistic society is now building on in China. “

Albertina Malik from America is a lecturer from Beijing Foreign Language University, who has lived in Beijing for eight years. She says that the Games, as an opening-up party to the world, have changed the mindset of the state.

“The whole nation got so hilarious when China topped the gold medal tally, considering this nation’s 200-year-long history of humiliation and inferiority. It is more like an implied reassurance that the Chinese can be as good as others, and can be more self-assured on international stage.”


The Olympic Games have left Beijing positive legacy in terms of a more diverse cultural aura, a more confident image on international stage, etc. On the other hand, post-Olympic pollution degradation and the economic downturn have also tarnished the heritage to some extent.

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The Feasibility of Truth in War Reporting 

We are gathering information, not for the military or for the government, but for the truth.’                                       —  Barbara Jones

 Truth is defined as the professional responsibility for journalists, but it is often blurred in the fog of war, as Phillip Knightley (2000) wrote in the First Casualty. Many journalists reporting the war are limited in what they can and are willing to report. However, truth is still the ultimate aspiration for frontline correspondents as Peter Arnett (1994), who has been a 40-year war correspondent, said, “truth was the greatest goal I could aspire to.(cited in Tumber and Webster., 2006, p.169)

So can war correspondents report truthfully? I will try to ascertain this topic in the following part of the essay.

Zero distance to the gunfire

The Ambiguity of Truth and Objectivity.

The legend correspondent James Cameron (1978) once claims that the ‘objectivity was of less importance than the truth’. (cited in Tumber and Webster., 2006, p.169)

Expectations to report warfare truthfully are couched in the language of objectivity. (Tumber and Webster., 2006)

 Nonetheless, the definition of objectivity and truth is ambiguous and confused with ‘balance’ and ‘neutrality. For example, the truth might be the journalists’ aim, but that does not follow that the means are objective. Balance implies that journalists should give equal amount of coverage to both conflicting sides in one report, but this does not necessarily make the report objective. Similarly, neutrality may also be problematic when morality is considered as part of the function of journalism. (Tumber and Webster., 2006, p216,) 

The ambiguity goes further when we examine the value of objectivity. (Thussu and Freedman, 2003) Objectivity can be treated in both theoretical and practical aspects. In theory, telling the truth often refers to the ways of separating of ‘facts’ from ‘analysis, treating news in a detached approach without value judgments. But in practice, the odds of reporting the whole truth is barely much, because of restrictions on time and space reporters can only rely on accredited source to cover story. Here the act of reporting is more of a ‘strategic ritual’ (Tuchman 1972), which means the journalists reporting that ‘A says this’ and ‘B says that’. This ritual at most achieves the claim to objectivity, but it does not guarantee objectivity. Instead they only allow an operational view of objectivity.(Tuchman, 1972)

 Therefore in practices of reporting war, ambiguity and contradiction always exist. (Tumber and Prentoulis., 2003, p216) The criteria as to judging whether war reportage tells the truth should undergo reassessment. I will talk about this in later part of this article.

Stricter restrictions to coverage under war circumstances

As mentioned above, under war circumstances, the restrictions to tell the truth are aggravated compared to normal circumstances.

Firstly, war correspondents have to cope with the stressful condition in war zone.

On the one hand, they face the most demanding physical challenges such as disease, poor hygienic condition and even safety, journalists are often among the casualties of conflict. (Corera,2003) On the other hand, psychological conditions required are also severe, they need to overcome social isolation, stress, boredom and terror. There are some unfortunate cases where war correspondents’ life is seriously ruined by their experience in the war zone. Some have been suffering from severe psychological trauma and disorder.(Tumber, 2002)

working environment can be extremely stressful


Secondly, the connection between war correspondents and the news headquarters has led to a situation where news is increasingly driven from the centre. (Julian Manyon) Nowadays, thanks to the on-the-edge technology like satellite video-phone and the laptop correspondents can get contact with their news organization headquarters without approaching to the war zone to access resources. 

 As Yvonne Ridley described her experience during the Afghanistan conflict in 2001, ‘in the build-up of the war, TV reporters spend much of their time on the rooftops of the Marriott in Islamabad’ … (which is worth notice and quite funny, they stayed in the hotels in the neighbouring Pakistan instead of the frontline) ‘many of them never left the hotels… some TV reporters paid Northern Alliance soldiers 5 dollars a round to start firing off as the cameras rolled. They could broadcast their piece looking very combative.’ (Y. Ridley, 2003) The recall reveals that to fulfil the endless information demand for the 24/7 rolling news, the verification of the truth is undoubtedly ignored.

Thirdly, journalists and news organizations come under pressure from the external environment.

The main pressures come largely from the government as well as the military.

 To justify the military action, the government desperately needs the public opinion in their side. That’s why they are most critical of the media for not toeing the line. (Corera, 2003) For instance, the then US president George W Bush asserted on announcing the Iraq invasion that ‘you are either for us or against us’ and that ‘this is a battle of good and evil’. Similarly, the British government blamed the UK newspapers for not supporting the country enough. These remarks put journalists in a dilemma where anyone who raises any criticism is considered as being unpatriotic and disloyal to their own country.

 From the Vietnam War, high-ranked military figures claimed that uncontrolled media caused the US failure. From the 1982 Falklands War on, the military has adopted a host of strategies – They cultivated long-term contacts in the media, and allow privilege to favoured reporters, or even threat journalist who get hold of negative information – to ensure that reporting about their activities is appropriate and acceptable. Journalists have been carefully handled in aspects of ‘minders’ allocated, and well-trained military spokespeople to answer questions. (Tumber and Webster., 2006)

 Another origin of the pressure journalists faced is the public. Whether the objective reporting is desirable has been under considerable debate recently. Gordon Corera (2003) from BBC’s Today program said they came under a lot of flak for criticizing government policy particularly when they questioned the war on terror, such as whether the bombing is working in Afghanistan or whether the British troops should be there.

 In addition, there is also peer pressure within the media as to the way of conveying alternative perspectives. The British media environment is so combative that organizations get backlash from rivals on how they cover the war. The Sun has once accused BBC’s Washington correspondents of ‘pro-Taliban’ as he questioned Donald Rumsfeld about the treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. (Corera,2003)

Above shows that to journalists face much pressure when trying to tell the truth.

Another factor detrimental to the truth is the inescapable reliance on the limited, unreliable sources in warfare.

  1. A lack of understanding of the specific situation in the frontline is problematic for war correspondents. They are sent to an area they know little about, and have to spend short periods of time inside the chaotic, violent area to file detailed information. Therefore, they have to rely on local fixers to provide background information, access to the interviewees and to interpret. That means correspondents cannot produce coverage by their own judgement


    2.The most illustrated example should be that the reliance of embeds on troops, restricted them to a particular time and place.

The embeds are restricted in war zones

The phenomena of embeds is part and parcel of the military’s measures of perception management. The embedded correspondents get information far from the frontline, at locations chosen by the army, and from the handouts issued by PR people hired by the forces. One vivid example of the extent to which journalists were constrained is the case of Falkland Islands conflict. The media had to rely on military transport to get to the battlefield, use military technologies to send messages back to news headquarters. (Morrison and Tumber, 1988)

Frontline correspondents know that the limitations of being an embed. Dan Edge once asserted that all an embed can cover is the mechanics of how a modern war is fought … but that’s a miniscule percentage of what war reporting needs to be about.’ David Zucchino, once an embed in Baghdad, echoed this by complaining that they don’t’ have access to the decision-making process in the political and military circle.                                                                                   

 The embeds’ inevitable reliance on the limited sources means their perspective is not in itself the whole truth. Most reportage offered by the embeds in Iraq in 2003 was supportive of the military enterprise, and did little to inform the public of further analyse as to the cause and effect of the war. They relied on the central news organisation collating different reports and putting together the jigsaw to produce a complete picture, which could hardly guarantee objectivity as well.

  1. What’s more, situation in combat zone is so complicated that it’s hard to present conflicting perspectives. For instance, as to a specific event, one side claims that it was a massacre and the other side may argue that it was a legitimate anti-terrorism action. Journalist can not substantiate whether or not it was a massacre unless they have enough time to do a lot of research and interview. This is impossible for correspondent reporting for daily journalism


     2.Another main obstacle in covering the truth is all sources are not trusty. People do not tell you the truth. Combatants understand the power of the media, and even ordinary people they know that journalists will report what they say to the outside world, consequently they would exaggerate and lie. As Dan Edge put it: ‘There are fewer and fewer corners of the world where one’s sources and interviewees are not hypersensitive to the power or lack of power of the media. And that informs everything they say.’ (cited in Tumber and Webster., 2006, p.169)In short period of time correspondents are not able to substantiate their words and get through to the true event.

 At other times, sources bypass journalists, going directly to news media, especially to propagate their view. Nothing more vividly illustrates this than the production of hostage videos through 2004 in Iraq that were put out on sympathetic websites.

To what extent can journalists tackle these restrictions?

Can Journalists tackle all the restriction?

In conditions of war and conflict, there is always the ‘fog of war’, the confusion of clarity, the restriction to information flow make it hard to report precisely. However, but I suppose the wider information environment the media enjoys today would to some extent tackle the obstacles.

 First of all, frontline journalists are not willing to descend to act as proxy for authorities. They tend to ‘telling it like it is’, uphold notions of ‘objectivity’ and can harass most advanced technology to report unaffectedly with ease and immediacy.

 Furthermore, journalists come from diverse education, cultural backgrounds that they don’t simply buy the slogans such as “support our boys”, they have their own judging criteria with regard to war.

 Moreover, although war correspondents may be severely constrained by virtue of specific limitations in the frontline, news organisations can get access to information from various origins and outlets. The final news product is probably the combination of more than one single journalist’s report.

 In fact, during wartime, some ‘undesirable reports’ still emerged despite the strict censorship on all reports to ensure that they are ‘on message’. In the Iraq invasion, Al Jazeera firstly showed video footage of the Northern Alliance soldiers and circulated quickly. Similarly, scenes of civilian casualties and hospital staff trying the save the injured was captured by some journalists and was available by the audience.

Therefore, despite the control and prevention of the military and authorities, there are still ways that undesirable stories can somehow reach the audiences. (Tumber and Webster., 2006)

Reassessment of Truth in War reporting

Journalists play a critical role in the public understanding of war. It’s vital for for those who do their work as foreign or war correspondents, to tell domestic audience how other people think, how other cultures think. (Corera.2003)

It is difficult, though, because of in warfare opinions from both sides are so polarised that one granted point of view from one side might be considered as extremely unacceptable from the other. So, it’s also difficult to tell whether journalists report truthfully on virtue of the ambiguity of the definition.

 I think the reassessment of truth with reference to wartime reportage could be something as follows: 

Especially during war time, whether the journalist can explain to the public and opinion formers back at home, about the outside world and explain to them the way different people and cultures think, and eventually create the public’s understandings.



I think in war coverage, it is still possible, although difficult, that war correspondents report truthfully.

Admittedly, the war correspondents confront a variety of limitations and stressful conditions. However, what’s more dangerous is when the media finds itself swept up in patriotism and find it hard to raise any dissenting opinions. (Corera.2003)

 Faced with the military authorities’ limit to the content of reporting, some embeds are just pander to the authority, providing merely complied stories. But better reporters have more laudable goals, not only to get the story and get it straight, but rather to ‘feel that your’re getting at the truth.’ (Orla Guerin, cited in Tumber and Webster., 2006, p.169)) Philip Knightley and other war journalists did what they could to resist to manipulation of news in warfare. The most revered journalists reporting warfare are those who are always seeking the ‘truth’. (Corera.2003)

 What’s more, it’s hard for the military and politicians to manage the news contents. The Al Jazeera report in the 2003 Iraq War can be a well-illustrated example. The British forces claimed that there was an uprising against Saddam Hussein from Shi’ites in Basra. But the news was rejected by Al Jazeera correspondents inside the town. (Tumber and Webster, 2006) the information remained accessible to anyone who loo on the Al Jazeera websites.

 So thanks to the Internet and other characteristic of today’s media environment, the authorities can not control what viewers can see despite the desire to restrict war reportage.  

 To sum up, I suppose that it’s not the case that journalist cannot tell the whole truth because of the constraints on them It’s not impossible to convey the truth but only the best journalists can achieve it, with fascinating professional passion, social responsibility and unimaginable hard work. 

List of References

  1. Thussu, D, K. and Freedman,D.,(2003). War and the media. Sage publications Ltd.
  2. 2.      Tumber,H. and Webster,F.,(2006) Journalists under fire: information war and journalistic practices. Sage publications Ltd.
  3. Knightley, P., (2003) In war, truth is the first casualty: the war correspondent as hero, propagandist and myth-maker from the Crimea to Iraq. 3rd ed. Carlton Publishing Group.
  4. Allen, T. and Seaton, J.,(1999), the media of conflict: war reporting and representations of ethnic violence. Zed Books
  5. Tumber, H. and Prentoulis,M.,(2003), Journalists under fire: Subcultures, objectivity and emotional literacy. In: Thussu, D, K. and Freedman,D.,(2003). War and the media. Sage publications Ltd, pp.216-229.
  6. Corera.G., (2003), The need for context: the complexity of foreign reporting. In: Thussu, D, K. and Freedman, D., (2003). War and the media. Sage publications Ltd, pp. 253-257
  7. Ridley,Y., (2003), In the fog of war…. In: Thussu, D, K. and Freedman,D.,(2003). War and the media. Sage publications Ltd, pp.248-252

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Extract from novels                                                                                                                    In Hemingway’s novel, the sun also rises, a Jewish youth called Korne, who’s sensitive and emotional, sat in the café and told Jack Barnes : “ Day after day, but I’ve never lived.” In Leo Tolstoy’s the death of Ivan Ilyich, the hero Ilyich lived a wealthy but boring life, before he died, he wondered: “maybe I never lived in the way I should have.” You can not call these remarks pessimistic; they all reflect the status when people contemplate their own lives.

The death of Ivan Ilyich Chinese Version

As for the life of Ivan Ilyich, the author Tolstoy commented “it is the most plain, most simple, but most terrible lifestyle.” This is a typical religious opinion. By contrast, the American writer Phillip Ross said the life of people with vested interests, is “the most plain, most simple, but most excellent by the American standard.” His real meaning is the Ilyich-style life, which is wealthy and successful, is desirable to the ordinary Americans. Only idiot will pursue the soul happiness other than money.

Don’t confess  you love life.                                                                                                Cultural self-censorship might be the most powerful thing in the world. It seems that in modern society in China, there is a regulation that you cannot say you love life. If someone is seen delighted all day, he will be reckoned to be stupid.

Therefore in China you can see people all around whining they are so smart as to they are unhappy. I am pondering that “unhappy” serves just as a perjury, their emphasis lies in “smart”.

Are you playing cool or a real freak?                                                                                           

Then what contribute to the “too smart to be happy” thing, or that someone is so characteristic as to cannot love life? As far as I am concerned, the reason is nothing but A. playing cool. B. he/she is a real freak.

Back in primary school, when writing compositions, I always find some classmates’ compositions are far “profound” than mine. I always wrote: Time flies, spring comes, mother bird should feed her babies.” But they will ask the teacher seriously: “What kind of life should I live?” Ironically they are always the ones that the teacher praised in class. Totally nonsense to me, can I decide what kind of life I should live? Isn’t it that family backgrounds, the social status of one’s parents that determine which kind of life people live?

Life can be happy, so long as you don’t impose some hypocritical meanings, or make fun of some serious issues like death, and don’t stress on superficial thing like“ What kind of life should I live”, life can be simple, quiet and worth trying.

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gun VS media

In the law and ethical case study of journalism, I found a very interesting phenomenon, that during wartime or conflict, there exists media self-censorship whereby the media can hardly hold a neutral stance in their coverage.

Public emotion influence

There is a situation of self-censorship that the media will produce bias according to public attitude and avoid controversial report for fear of public backlash.

As we all know, in democratic society, the media should act as “watchdog” of government, challenging administrative policies and publish analysis of current political landscape. Interestingly, after the 911 attack, the US media at large chose to support the Bush administration’s response to take military action to Iraq because of the angry sentiment of the American public.

Opposition to the military decision would become a taboo in the eye of the public. The media tend to report the confilict emotionally and lost the ability to stay sober due to the overwhelming public anger. Any critisicim could be seen as a disrespect to the death at that time.

Open debate is essential however unfeasible

I think before any significant decision like military action is taken, open and comprehensive public debate is needed to discuss thoroughly of the push and pull factors associated with the decision.

Of course this is therotical assumption. But after I watched the BBC documentary the inside story of Tony Blair, I realised that although most the British People opposed the invasion of Iraq, the then Prime Minister Tony Blair was resolute to support the American ally. The fact is that instead of consult the public opinions, the leader took arbitrate decision and did his utmost to stifle the debate.

Government manipulation of self-censorship

Forthermore, the government often takes proactive measures to manipulate self-censorship. Take the aftermath of the 911 terrorist attack as an example, the Bush administration produced an atmosphere that those who opposed the government’s military action was supporting the terrorists.


the media’s self-censorship is subject to government pressure and the public sentiment. this censorship undoubtedly has a chilling effect on the freedom of speech and information, and is absolutely a detriment to the democratic situation.

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Why I choose Journalism

Back in hey-day of Fleet Street, it used to be said that journalism is not a job, it’s a lifestyle. That still holds true. It is not something that one does, but something one is.

I love the mobile, fast, vibrant lifestyle of Journalism —thinking and writing creatively, digging into major events and interviewing people with various backgrounds. However, what appeals to me most, is that journalism is a high-stakes moral stuff responsible for educating the public and scrutinizing the government, as Walter Lippmann wrote in Public Opinion (1922).

I found the biography of Walter Lippmann Walter Lippmann and the American Century in library in my sophomore year. As the greatest journalist in his time, Lippmann’s column appeared in the leading newspapers of the United States and throughout the world. For nearly forty years, his editorials led generations of the Americans through the maze of political affairs from the First World War to the Watergate scandal. This is just the life I long to live, that is, revealing important information to a wide audience to inform the public.

Now China is at the crossroad of social revolution and economic reform, my fellow citizens long for guidance and transparency to make an information choice to keep up with the current epoch. Just as Lippmann sounded the trumpet for a cultural and social revolution in America in his era, I would like to spend my life trying to understand those revolutions and to aid citizens’ grasp of key events and illuminate the path.

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