Citizen Journalist–Blogger Tiger Temple (Laohu Miao 老虎庙)

Blogger Tiger Temple 老虎庙 was listed at Number Three in the list of the Top Ten Sohu Bloggers in 2007. Sohu explains why he earned such a title: Tiger Temple is much more well-known as a blogger than as himself; He blogs with the heart of a common person; Every word of his 1133 articles shine like pearls. It’s not an exaggeration to say that he represents the grassroots spirit of Sohu bloggers — He’s a photographer on Beijing’s streets. He’s a reporter of cultural phenomena…

Tiger Temple’s real name is Zhang Shihe, age 53, and he lives in the Tiger Temple district of Beijing. He’s a member of “Lao San Jie“(graduates of middle school between 1966 to 1968, during the Cultural Revolution). Thus, he did not have a chance to enter college and develop a specialty. But he has the passion to succeed. He could not do that in his former job at an advertising company, as he was afraid of making false advertisements.

Since 2004, Zhang has been blogging on his “24 Hours Online” blog. His idea is to make the blog a personal magazine. He mastered the idea that blogging should be broad-ranging with many different focal points. This is antithetical to the work of most bloggers, who are only dedicated to their familiar fields or write for a private circle. Zhang admires Matt Drudge who made his blog synonymous with citizen journalism. Thus, Zhang wanted his own blog to be broad, rich, covering a variety of topics and reporting facts truthfully and quickly, like journalism.

Zhang felt very encouraged by his experience blogging on a murder on Wangfujing street in Beijing in 2004. He believes he was the first to report on the incident and was quicker even than any newspaper. In 2006, Zhang broke 77 unique stories, which were not touched by the traditional media as the topics were either minor, local, odd or too sensitive. He likes to use multimedia to pursue stories, with photo and video clips. He even uses his cell phone to connect to the Internet to blog when he’s in a very remote area. His writing is very conversational, which makes readers feel very close to him.

Although some state media are banned from reporting on Zhang and his blog, and are prevented from calling him a “citizen journalist”, Zhang continues to explore using his blog as a media tool and he has faith: He believes the blog is a democratic environment, allowing all kinds of styles, no matter if it’s silly or stubborn. Blogs are still a form of exploration. It’s not necessary to frame it and impose limits — bloggers should go beyond personal preferences and try to blog about new things.

From 2007, Zhang added the title “One Man’s Magazine” to his blog 24 Hours Online. As Global Voices pointed out, Zhang “set off earlier this month on a bicycle blogging tour to look for his own news that will take him through Shanxi, Shaanxi, Inner Mongolia and Ningxia, four impoverished provinces in north central China’s hinterland, posting photos, video and reports of who and what he encounters along the way, the next step it seems from his usual blogging of things like street-level crime and natural disruptions to construction work on 2008 Olympic venues.”

Stay tuned to CDT for selected translations of a few of Zhang’s dispatches.

Also see a slideshow of Laohu Miao on the road with his bike and cat:

Laohu Miao’s biking route on map:


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