Unlike athletes, Chinese media held to different standards during Olympics

By: spambot on 12 August 2008
Posted in China, Asia

In the category of downplaying negative news about its home turf, the China Media Project has awarded the Chinese media the gold. Apparently this is not only common practice for CCTV basketball commentators; print media buried news about the murder of the father-in-law of the US men's volleyball coach at the Drum Tower in Beijing, whose Chinese attacker later jumped to his death. Though online media highlighted the story more prominently, a news conference held by the US men's volleyball team marked the first time at an Olympics venue in which several Chinese reporters had their notebooks (and at least one tape recorder) confiscated.

According to The Age, Beijing Olympics spokesman Sun Weide denied knowledge of this differential treatment of Chinese reporters:

"I am not very clear about the situation you raised," he said. "For Chinese journalists, they very much enjoy the rights to cover the Beijing Olympic Games... the rights are protected by the constitution in China."

The Chinese constitution does indeed protect freedom of speech and freedom of the press, but the disparities in regulation and control of foreign and Chinese media are well-established. Only foreign journalists have been the intended beneficiaries of regulations issued in January 2007 guaranteeing freedom of movement and requiring only the prior consent of organizations or individuals, not government officials, for interviews. Even with these provisions, however, the Foreign Correspondents Club of China has logged 160 cases of interference with reporting in 2007 and 100 cases through July 30.