When the Lhasa incident occurred, rumors were spreading all over the streets even as the Chinese media kept its usual silence. For several days, the Chinese media only carried the brief bulletins and speeches from the leaders of the Tibetan Autonomous Region. In the bulletins, there was only one description of the incident: “Recently, a small number of people in Lhasa engaged in assaulting, vandalizing, looting and arson.” This was just an ordinary brief news item. But the people can tell from the strong condemnations of the Dalai Lama clique that this incident was no small thing, and therefore they set out to find out more. Based upon past experience, many people obtained the additional information from the overseas media. At around this time, several forum posts and videos that exposed fake reporting by overseas media appeared and gained popularity. This quickly became an Internet incident in which the Chinese citizens angrily condemned the western media. Several websites appeared with names such as “anti-CNN,” “anti-BBC” and “anti-VOA.”
According to information compiled by netizens, certain media in countries such as Germany, United States, United Kingdom and India made clear factual errors in their reporting. From the viewpoint of journalistic professionalism, these errors were very wrong, even deliberately misleading. Although some media outlets have issued apologies and corrections, the damage from the inaccurate news was already done and the Chinese people find it hard to forgive. Like any kind of fake news, the damage is first and foremost on the public trust in the media themselves, because ten thousand truths cannot undo one lie. If in the reporting of the incident (as well as other major incidents), the Chinese media are not allowed to report freely and the overseas media are suspect, then where is the truth going to come from?