Blogs And Their Value To Foreign Journalists In China — Rebecca MacKinnon

CNN’s former Beijing bureau chief, now a blog evangelist cum journalism professor, writes on a question she recently posed to other attendees at the World Journalism Education Conference: Are blogs more important to China correspondents than they are to journalists working elsewhere? Her tentative answer is yes. Among her arguments:

  • The China story in the international is not dominated by military conflict or any one obvious single storyline;
  • The China story is not generally a “breaking story,” but rather a “process story” about how this complex and geopolitically important country is changing, and what that change means for the rest of the world;
  • There is strong demand for specialist insight, information and analysis on a range of subjects;
  • Official controls on professional media and public speech in China are strong;
  • Many sources are fearful of consequences of speaking directly with foreign journalists;
  • Access to on-the-ground or reliable information outside of major cities is often difficult; [Full Text]

Rebecca MacKinnon is co-founder of Global Voices and is currently teaching at Hong Kong University.

In a comment posted on MacKinnon’s blog, one reader acknowledged China correspondents’ reliance on blogs, but described in less than flattering terms: “[Foreign journalists in China] need blogs that provide them with a Chinese perspective and with information that they cannot secure themselves– because they lack the cultural know-how and the ability to understand Chinese perspectives. They are advocates for free speech and western values, they are basically extensions of western embassies– that’s why people don’t trust them.”

MacKinnon is at the conference in part to present her paper, “Blogs and China Correspondence: How Covering China Use Blogs,” available here (PDF).



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