Rebecca MacKinnon: My Chat With

On Monday, Rebecca MacKinnon met with the co-founder and web team of Rebecca summarizes some of the main points of the discussion on her website:

Liu Jing then asked me why the Western media gave less attention to Chinese student demonstrators who came out in support for the Chinese Olympic torch relay than to the pro-Tibet independence demonstrations. I said that part of the reason has to do with the fact that the Western media tends to pay more attention to people claiming to be wronged or oppressed, and generally gives less airtime to people representing or supporting power-holders. I did also acknowledge that Westerners generally don’t understand the patriotism of today’s Chinese students abroad, the reasons for their patriotism, and the extent to which it’s genuinely heartfelt.

[…] I also made the point that while the Chinese media has evolved and grown more sophisticated over the past couple decades, and while the Internet has created a very wide space for discourse and debate than ever existed in the past, the information environment is still very skewed. Chinese investigative journalists have told me about numerous stories their editors won’t allow them to publish. This includes the poisoned milk powder story which a Chinese journalist had been ready to break last spring, but was not allowed to do so – with the result that thousands more babies were sickened, their parents unaware of the danger when they might have been informed. Voices critical of central government policies are censored much more heavily on the Internet than voices of patriotic young people like the Anti-CNN, community. This results in a skewed information environment, reinforcing itself in a positive feedback loop.

A complete, unedited audio of the conversation can be found on her website, RConversation. Note: Audio is in Chinese.

For an interview with Qi Hanting, co-founder of Anti-CNN (no longer involved in the site), see this CDT post, “Interview with Anti-CNN Founder Qi Hanting.”


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