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胡泳  

胡泳,北京大学新闻与传播学院副教授,博士。价值中国网(www.chinavalue.net)总编辑。中国传播学会常务理事。著有《网络为王》、《众声喧哗》等,译有《数字化生存》、《未来是湿的》等。

北京大学新闻与传播学院副教授,博士。价值中国网(www.chinavalue.net)总编辑。中国传播学会常务理事。著有《网络为王》、《众声喧哗》等,译有《数字化生存》、《未来是湿的》等。

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law, public support key to journalists' safety  

2010-08-08 05:39:04|  分类: engage |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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http://www.scmp.com/portal/site/SCMP/menuitem.2af62ecb329d3d7733492d9253a0a0a0/?vgnextoid=56d01e53c733a210VgnVCM100000360a0a0aRCRD&ss=China&s=News

Law, public support key to journalists' safety

Priscilla Jiao
Aug 03, 2010  South China Morning Post

 

Not even experts agree on what can be done about recent threats against and assaults on mainland journalists for merely doing their job.

Some think the answer lies in new legislation to protect the media. Others say the laws are in place but are not being enforced. Another group sees the issue as one of public recognition of the job journalists do in Chinese society.

The high-profile case that sparked this debate involved Economic Observer reporter Qiu Ziming, who was put on an online list of wanted criminals on July 23 by county police in Zhejiang for "alleged damage to a company's business reputation", following his investigative reports on alleged insider trading and wrongdoing by a powerful company in the province.

The public outcry against Qiu's detention warrant forced higher authorities to scrap the order and apologise for it last week.

But there have been other incidents that show how difficult it is to be a mainland journalist taking on the status quo. The families of two journalists who had revealed alleged pollution and subsequent bribery attempts by Zijin Mining (SEHK: 2899) in Fujian province were involved in car accidents on Wednesday.

On Thursday, a Shenzhen journalist from the Huaxia Times was beaten up after writing an expose about the chairman of Shenzhen International (SEHK: 0152) Enterprise being reported to police by his mistress.

On Friday, staff of the Shanghai-based National Business Daily were attacked by four employees of the company that makes Bawang shampoo after the newspaper published several investigative reports that raised questions about its products.

Zhou Ze, a partner at the Beijing Wentian Law Firm who champions journalists' rights on the mainland, says criticising companies can be dangerous because of the taxes they pay to local governments.

"It's commonplace for local authorities to protect big businesses and taxpayers," he said. "It's totally against the law that local governments become a protective umbrella for companies."

Zhan Jiang, a journalism professor at the Beijing Foreign Studies University, told Caing.com Qiu's case reflected attempts by local interests to suppress monitoring by the media. This, he said, clearly highlighted the lack of media-related law.

Hu Xingdou , a professor at the Beijing Institute of Technology, agreed that a law to protect media rights was what journalists need most because "it can ensure media workers' rights in the fight against local protectionism".

But Zhou said the poor enforcement of existing law was the main reason journalists' rights are often violated.

Other experts point out that legislation cannot transform the whole situation overnight. They argue that society's failure to understand the role of journalists is one reason their rights are often undermined.

To many, journalists are merely tools of propaganda. And their credibility has been harmed by past cases in which fake journalists tried to blackmail companies and a TV editor fabricated sensational stories.

"Society needs to come to the realisation that protecting journalists' rights means protecting the public," said Hu Yong , a professor at Peking University's School of Journalism and Communication.

Zhou agreed, saying if journalists were well respected by a society in which the law was strictly enforced, people who challenged media reports would not resort to violence.

Wang Shengzhong, the Economic Observer's deputy editor-in-chief, said some media outlets still held that oversight of public affairs by the media was a prerequisite for an open, fair and transparent society.

"If the media can't monitor public companies," he said, "it can't do its job."

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