Shi Zhe: We Can’t Make People Get their News from the Outside
What happens when the local media is silent on local catastrophes? Tim Hathaway translates a Southern Weekend opinion piece by Shi Zhe:
On July 24, a bridge was overtaken by flood waters in Henan Province near the city of Luoyang. It caused over 30 deaths that day and at least 30 more went missing. CCTV gave detailed reports for two days straight and there was one article in Luoyang Daily that day that said county officials reported to their superiors that they could not find the “self criticism” of the person responsible. Besides this, all we heard from Henan media was about the safety of bridges. Even though Henan media are in an ideal position to report on the floods, the most important news they gave was that tourists had been stranded and service on the Longhai Railway had been interrupted. In other words, they didn’t report the downed bridge but it was major news in outlets outside of Henan.
On July 28, a combustible gas leak caused an explosion in Nanjing. With a spread radius of 500 meters, it killed more than 10 people and injured over 200. Thanks to a live broadcast, news of the Nanjing blast rocked the country the day it happened. It made the front page of newspapers everywhere. However, if you were in Nanjing one day later you probably would have been completely ignorant of the fact that an explosion had happened. Except for a very small number of papers in Nanjing, none of them put this on the front page and if they mentioned it at all, it was just a very short piece buried inside. The front page of the Nanjing News on July 29 was filled with copy on floods in Jilin and the plane crash in Pakistan.