Media and Advertising

Peer pressure and censorship

Bingfeng Cafe is an English blog written by a Chinese guy who works in media in Shanghai. He had this to say about the Massage Milk hoax:

one interesting aspect of the whole "massage milk hoax" incident is who swallowed the bait first. as i know, danwei was the first one to report the shut down of massage milk blog and, Jeremy Goldkorn, the host of danwei blog, was the first one to link the closedown of massage milk blog with the chinese censors. the great irony here, is that jeremy is one of the few western media people who lived in china long enough and agaisnt attaching too much importance to the censorship issue than it should be, and is supposed to be the last one to link the close down with censorship.

he wrote two related posts shortly afterwards, one to explain why Mr. Wang closed his blog by himself and tried to mitigate the embarrassment brought by his first post about the clsoe down of massage milk blog, the other to report the China Digital Times block and tried to try to justify his perspectives to interpret the massage milk blog close down in the first place.

danwei is a blog about the dynamics of chinese media and advertising, although critical and cynical of chinse state media, danwei is not an active members of western media that keep close attention to chinese censorship issues. but recently danwei becomes more and more involved into the reporting on censorship issues, which is a little incomprehensible to me. i know there are more cases of censorship in recent months, but at the same time i just wonder if it's the "peer pressure" that gradually changed danwei's reporting focus.

It's not peer pressure.

Censorship and restriction of information flow are becoming key issues for media everywhere, not just in China. The cowardice of the Western media in the face of the Mohammed cartoon riots — when major British and American newspapers and TV stations declined to reproduce the cartoons that caused all the fuss — is an example of the importance of this issue and it has nothing to do with China.

When it comes to China itself, this writer has often commented that the censorship issue is less important than many other problems in China. Nonetheless, I believe that Bingfeng himself would agree that as long as there are significant restrictions on public debate in China, censorship will remain a hot button issue.

While most Chinese people may not care about these things, Westerners will generally see such restrictions as evidence of a political and intellectual culture that is still, at some level, driven by fear.

Are we wrong Bingfeng?

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