Nan Wu spoke about investigative journalism in China. There is a new phenomenon where economic publications have been doing investigative journalism. Wu believed this was due to the increased revenue of economic media, and they have more room to do journalism because “their topics tend to not be able to be censored”.
After a young man was beaten to death in a Detention Center, a whole group of stories were published about the corruption, violence and scandals within the Detention Center. Because people were able to see these issues in public media, they were able to push for the removal of Detention Centers, causing great strides for the media, whose work directly impacted political decisions.
Dr. Jiang, a well-respected doctor, attempted to uncover the truths about the SARS epidemic in China, where they greatly understated the problems related to the epidemic. First he went to Chinese media, particularly television, where they declined to publish his story. He took it to Time magazine.
The online media in China is too large for the government to control anymore. Internet, mobile phones and Twitter are all popular among media users in China.
With Twitter, for example, even when Tweets are firewalled later on, the initial Tweet is already out there for people to see and share.
According to Nan Wu, climate changes and the environment are often forgotten by publications because they have “more important” issues to cover such as unemployment and employment. This allowed her to engage herself in projects like this.
The first presentation Wu shared with us was her Black Lung Village story. She put together a slideshow of interesting pictures of Shiban, interviewing multiple people affected by the conditions of working in mines. She shared that the town is just a glimpse at a bigger picture, that the government often covers up places like this.
While working for the Wall Street Journal in China, Wu was responsible for social media products. Before she came along,WSJ China only had 30,000 followers – now they have upwards of 200,000.
Online discussions between teens in America and China are very different. In China, they do ask a lot more questions – where is the conspiracy? The support? The evidence? They try and find social injustices, where in America, the postings are a lot more superficial. In America, we’re allowed to speak on what we want without fear of being punished, and we don’t necessarily need social media the way the teens in China do to understand social phenomenons and political decisions.
In terms of the Great Firewall, while Wu was studying at Harvard, she tried to learn from members of the IT department why the Great Firewall was so powerful that people couldn’t crack it. What she learned was that those who are hired to create the firewall are given a huge budget to work with, and can afford much better technology to work with. Those trying to hack into it are obviously on a much smaller budget, which really hindrances the project.
Beijing is going to begin censoring micro-blogging, and shutting down anything that goes against what the government deems appropriate.
Although Twitter is banned in China, people have created their own version of Twitter, Weibo. With Weibo, people in China have instantaneous access to news and peer comments – and once it’s published, it’s already out there, and likely people have seen this.
Of course, I don’t agree with China’s banning of Twitter, nor do I agree with censorship, but I commend Nan Wu and China’s Weibo users for their continued sharing of important information.