Tiananmen Square Massacre commemoration thread

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Re: Tiananmen Square Massacre commemoration thread

Unread postby Tigger of Kai » Thu Jun 11, 2009 4:34 am

Blaming journalists is always a wise bet, but it's important to specify just which ones actually deserve the blame. Of those Western journalists who were there at the time, some refuse to use the word "massacre" or otherwise condemn the CPC for its conduct that night and its subsequent denial of history. These were the people who did what the soldiers told them to do when the s--- started going down, stayed in their hotel rooms or whatever. They continue to toe the Communist Party line because that's the only way to ensure their continued access to China. If the media as a whole have a vested interest here, that's it.

Which makes the work of journos like the BBC's Kate Adie all the more impressive. She went out on the streets that night to report what was actually happening, and got a bullet to the elbow for her trouble. She continues to publicize the struggle of the Tiananmen Mothers (somewhat misnamed, since for many of them the sons and daughters they mourn were merely bystanders caught in the indiscriminate shooting, and not part of the protests at all). She was in China at the regime's invitation, and the fact that she reported events as they truly happened is not political in any way.

EDIT: http://massacremap.com/ a partial reconstruction of the massacre by the Tiananmen Mothers
Last edited by Tigger of Kai on Fri Nov 13, 2009 9:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Tiananmen Square Massacre commemoration thread

Unread postby WeiWenDi » Thu Jun 11, 2009 1:11 pm

Tigger of Kai wrote:Blaming journalists is always a wise bet


Which no one had done until now...

Tigger of Kai wrote:Of those Western journalists who were there at the time, some refuse to use the word "massacre" or otherwise condemn the CPC for its conduct that night and its subsequent denial of history. These were the people who did what the soldiers told them to do when the s--- started going down, stayed in their hotel rooms or whatever. They continue to toe the Communist Party line because that's the only way to ensure their continued access to China. If the media as a whole have a vested interest here, that's it.


It's not those whose jobs in the field and health/safety are on the line (like Dame Kathryn Adie) that I'm criticising - that should have been patently obvious. I'm just saying there's the possibility of a double standard on the part of the editorial staff. To give another example, when the editors decide that sleep deprivation, stress positions and repeated beating are torture when the Chinese do it and only 'enhanced interrogation' when the US does it (in far more recent stories than the Tiananmen protests), something is wrong with their editorial standards. Torture should be called torture, no matter who does it.

With regard to the Tiananmen protest anniversary, I'm not saying it's insignificant and I'm not saying we shouldn't be covering it. My point was that we ought to be critically questioning whose interests and whose values we're serving in the process, and why.
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Re: Tiananmen Square Massacre commemoration thread

Unread postby Lady Wu » Thu Jun 11, 2009 3:35 pm

WeiWenDi wrote:It's not those whose jobs in the field and health/safety are on the line (like Dame Kathryn Adie) that I'm criticising - that should have been patently obvious. I'm just saying there's the possibility of a double standard on the part of the editorial staff. To give another example, when the editors decide that sleep deprivation, stress positions and repeated beating are torture when the Chinese do it and only 'enhanced interrogation' when the US does it (in far more recent stories than the Tiananmen protests), something is wrong with their editorial standards. Torture should be called torture, no matter who does it.

Well, then they did right in calling torture in *some* cases, anyway. You're right--there is a perspective question, as well as a self-interest question here. If the same editor calls torture in one case but not in the other, then we can question his or her ability to provide unbiased, multi-perspective editing. But to generalize the whole Western media as imperialistic-minded is unfair.

And thank goodness for the internet. We can now access news sources from different places and by people of different interests.

With regard to the Tiananmen protest anniversary, I'm not saying it's insignificant and I'm not saying we shouldn't be covering it. My point was that we ought to be critically questioning whose interests and whose values we're serving in the process, and why.

Definitely, the media is manipulated by governments everywhere. The US media focuses on war stories, foreign stories, conspiracy theories and such to draw people's attention off the economy. The Chinese state media is full of reports of Party achievements and insignificant gossip items to draw people's attention off everything around them. It's all the same thing. But the power lies in the hands of the consumers. What are *our* interests and values when we read and respond to the coverage?
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Re: Tiananmen Square Massacre commemoration thread

Unread postby WeiWenDi » Thu Jun 11, 2009 4:41 pm

Lady Wu wrote:Well, then they did right in calling torture in *some* cases, anyway. You're right--there is a perspective question, as well as a self-interest question here. If the same editor calls torture in one case but not in the other, then we can question his or her ability to provide unbiased, multi-perspective editing. But to generalize the whole Western media as imperialistic-minded is unfair.

And thank goodness for the internet. We can now access news sources from different places and by people of different interests.


I got the story on the Times' coverage of stories concerning torture from Andrew Sullivan on his Atlantic blog, actually, here.

Perhaps it would be unfair to characterise the entirety of the American media as imperial in their treatment of non-Western societies, but I have noticed some of the same tendencies among a number of the big news media: NBC, CNN, and FOX really goes without saying. As the newspaper industry dries up and more people are turning to either cable news or blogs (and I'm as guilty of this as anyone), unbiased and multi-perspective editing is becoming more and more difficult to come by. In this respect, I think the internet is a double-edged sword. Sure you have a number of good journalists cropping up, but it is getting more difficult for people to actively seek them out and get good information amidst the raffs of excrement and stupidity in the blogosphere.

Lady Wu wrote:The US media focuses on war stories, foreign stories, conspiracy theories and such to draw people's attention off the economy. The Chinese state media is full of reports of Party achievements and insignificant gossip items to draw people's attention off everything around them. ... But the power lies in the hands of the consumers. What are *our* interests and values when we read and respond to the coverage?


Yes, ultimately the power does lie in the hands of the consumers... one hopes. But such an interpretation ignores the success of advertising (the point of which is to control the consumer by strategically rationalising for her what her interests and values are). As such, the big problem with unchecked capitalism - particularly in the media - is that it gives us excesses of what we think we want (entertainment / gossip / staged confrontation) rather than sufficient quantities of what we actually need (edification / civil discourse / facts and critically plausible interpretations of them).
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Re: Tiananmen Square Massacre commemoration thread

Unread postby agga » Thu Jun 11, 2009 5:14 pm

devil's advocate here-

there certainly are chinese who, toeing a line or misled by propaganda, believe that a PRC 'glasnost' might lead to devolution of power from the CCP, and thence to the collapse of the chinese state. they believe that this would lead to a situation similar to what occurred in Russia in the 90's, or much worse considering china's historical cycle of empire -> collapse -> decades of disunity and disarray.

propaganda though it may be, does this line get any credit at all? you have to admit, this is the explicit *goal* of many observers who tout the "talk about 6-4" business; bringing down the CCP grip on power in China.
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Re: Tiananmen Square Massacre commemoration thread

Unread postby WeiWenDi » Wed Aug 05, 2009 1:44 am

The two journalists who were detained in North Korea have been released after Billy C's visit; he's accompanied them back. [insert obligatory off-colour Bill Clinton joke here]

Definitely something to celebrate; the big question is, why would they be released by the NK government if Clinton was only going over 'as a private citizen'? Is he really that much of a smooth-talker? (If so, major kudos - but I'm doubting it.)
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Re: Tiananmen Square Massacre commemoration thread

Unread postby James » Wed Aug 05, 2009 9:15 pm

Wikipedia has a stellar article on this subject.
It is a great place to start for someone who hasn't actually researched these events. I find that very few things I've heard from the media, or other sources, even in the Western world, have done justice to what really happened.

WeiWenDi wrote:The two journalists who were detained in North Korea have been released after Billy C's visit; he's accompanied them back. [insert obligatory off-colour Bill Clinton joke here]

Definitely something to celebrate; the big question is, why would they be released by the NK government if Clinton was only going over 'as a private citizen'? Is he really that much of a smooth-talker? (If so, major kudos - but I'm doubting it.)

Good observation, WWD. I'm very curious what actually took place in that discussion. I joked with my brother that Clinton is apparently as skilled at negotiating the release of prisoners as he is at talking his way into a blouse, but truth be told, I'm all smiles when I think of what he accomplished. I just wish people would think a little more about events like this--the imprisonment of the reporters, not the release of them--and keep those events fresh in their minds. I still meet a lot of people who are quick to defend North Korea as having simply been painted in dark colors by the media.
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Re: Tiananmen Square Massacre commemoration thread

Unread postby Lady Wu » Thu Aug 06, 2009 2:20 am

I wonder how long would it take before pro-government Chinese vandals completely sabotage that page and turn it into a madhouse like the Falun Gong page...

One of my Mainland Chinese student, born after 1989 and who came to Canada just two years ago, actually had a good idea about what happened. There is hope for the future...
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Re: Tiananmen Square Massacre commemoration thread

Unread postby James » Thu Aug 06, 2009 6:57 pm

Lady Wu wrote:I wonder how long would it take before pro-government Chinese vandals completely sabotage that page and turn it into a madhouse like the Falun Gong page...

I'm sure there are plenty of attempts. It is always interesting to see how an article is being edited by viewing the talk discussion. Right now there is someone complaining that the article opens by suggesting there are more than a few hundred deaths (the "general consensus"). It isn't a protected article, though, so it would suggest that it isn't currently an active target for constant vandalism. I'm a little surprised about that.

Lady Wu wrote:One of my Mainland Chinese student, born after 1989 and who came to Canada just two years ago, actually had a good idea about what happened. There is hope for the future...

I hope the Chinese continue to find new and innovative ways around the firewall. I really like that idea of locally distributed software, as that is something they would have a hard time handling and addressing. I wonder how good an idea the general population of China has of the extent to which their information is being controlled.
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Re: Tiananmen Square Massacre commemoration thread

Unread postby Duncan » Fri Aug 07, 2009 1:25 pm

WeiWenDi wrote:...why would they be released by the NK government if Clinton was only going over 'as a private citizen'?

BBC reported that on NK radio reports Clinton's visit got to be second in running order to improvements at a biscuit factory. Clinton's visit can't have been that important.
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