Fireworks in Beijing, and Journalistic Guidance – Wang Xiaofeng
Here is the official statement as published in Beijing News report on February 3, 2006:
[In translation] “From Chinese New Year’s Eve up to now, the total number of fires is slightly more than in the same time period last year, as the number of fires caused by fireworks has increased slightly. There were no civilian deaths as a result of fireworks, nor were there any damaged eyes as a result of fireworks.” Last evening, at the press conference in the Fire Department’s conference room, the Beijing City Government deputy secretary general and the City Fireworks Office director Li Wei made an interim report about the safety and limited relaxation on the firework ban between Chinese New Year’s Eve and the Fifthteenth Day of the first month of the new year.
So what? Well, if you say “So what?,” then you need a lesson about how to read news in China (come to think of it, the reading strategy has universal applications). The following is the translation of a Massage Milk blog post.
What is journalistic guidance? That is when everybody knows that the wind is blowing towards the west, but you insist on having some seemingly factual evidence to prove that the wind is actually blowing the east. Then you persuade people to accept your viewpoint. If you can do that, you have successfully guided people.
For example, the traffic in Beijing is congested and the citizens complain about it frequently. So you say that traffic congestion is the indicator of economic prosperity. The traffic in Taklamakan desert is very sparse, but economic development is impossible there. Therefore, places with serious traffic congestion are definitely economically flourishing, abundant in goods and supplies and their people must be prosperous and living in harmony. Therefore, Beijing must actively promote projects that cause traffic congestion in order to deonstrate that the city is economically flourishing. This is known as proper guidance. You begin to think: Who wants to go and live in the Taklamakan desert? Even birds are unable to travel across it.