Monday, April 18, 2005

Complex issue with no easy answer.

I have a close friend who enjoys playing devil's advocate over coffee on Saturday afternoons. He is taking me to task for what I wrote earlier about the government's decision to eject the Chinese journalists who work for Xinhua and The People's Daily.

To begin with, he told me about the press release from Reporters sans frontieres, which condemned the government's position and suggested that the reporters be allowed in. Here is graf from the organization's statement:
Urging Taiwan to reconsider its decision, the worldwide press freedom organisation said, "Even though the People's Republic of China is certainly no model of press freedom, using censorship against its media makes no sense. We believe that the right to news and information should in no circumstances be compromised because of political differences."
While I understand the point, I still believe that these reporters are reporters in name only. Perhaps this situation could have been handled more smoothly by government officials who, rather than do what many democratic government' officials do, i.e. bullshit, chose to criticize the reporting and tell the world how angry they are about Chinese journalists misrepresenting Taiwan in communist newspapers. What they should have done is either never allowed the journalists into the country to begin with or at the very least spin the issue as a visa problem and not a press problem, though it would have been clear to everyone what was going on.

I am not, however, suggesting that all Chinese journalists or even those who work for party organs, are fake reporters. Anyone who has been keeping up with the ebb and flow of the Chinese press must be aware of the number of significant contributions China's journalists have offered their readers. China seems to have a number of investigative reporters, all of whom probably know the risks they are taking, who continue to uncover corruption, sometimes at the very highest levels of government.

At this juncture, I'd be interested in hearing other opinions on the issue, especially from journalists or those who agree with Reporters sans frontieres' position.

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