Filling the Black Box

An interview with investigative journalist Liu Jianqiang provides insight into China’s environmental journalism. He makes the case that fighting for environmental issues isn’t (shouldn’t be?) a political issue, yet journalists are routinely targeted by local governments and corporations for revealing the shady underbelly of the country’s “progress”. No surprise there. But interestingly, those in PRC’s top-level positions have responded to some of Jianqiang’s stories with seemingly favorable responses. Premier Wen Jiabao shut down (temporarily?) the illegal Tiger Leaping Gorge Dams after his damning (ha) story appeared, and similar responses followed his investigiations of geneticlaly modified rice and “lakebed waterproofing” (huh?).

Other tidbits:

* Jianqiang says there’s a fine line between journalism and activism in China when it comes to the environment.
* Internet censorship is big, but Jianqiang says it’s easier to evade the censors if you’re writing on Chinese sites in English.
* Journalism had a direct effect on citizen action in the Tiger Leaping Gorge case – copies of his articles were distributed and 10,000 local residents protested. Some confronted local officials with the details in the article.

The title of the article this post links to mentions “China’s Environmental Movement” but I can’t say I learned a lot about specific citizen efforts beyond traditional journalism.

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