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Journalism is about research: Last word on the Massage Milk censorship hoax


Because this website was the first English language source to report the apparent closure of the Massage Milk and Milk Pig blogs, your correspodent has received the following:

- Hate mail from a Chinese guy who called me something like an imperialist pig;
- A rebuke, from Chinese blogger Bingfeng, suggesting that Danwei has lost the plot by writing too much about censorship;
- A sympathetic telling of the whole story from Rebecca MacKinnon.

Now, this is the last word on the affair on this website; it's a message to the Western journalists who fell victim to the hoax, and to those Chinese journalists who jeered:

When Massage Milk appeared to be shut down, I tried to call the the blogger himself — no answer.

After it was revealed that the whole thing was some kind of hoax, I had an SMS conversation with Massage Milk, confirmed the hoax, and then called the guy who runs, the Shanghai-based service that hosts Massage Milk's blog. The guy said "no comment".

But judging from the mainstream media reports that mentioned the Massage Milk closure, none of the professional journalists covering this matter even bothered to check on these original sources. This includes the self-righteous Chinese journalists who dumped on the Western media about the hoax, who didn't even check that Milk Pig was a woman, as reported in Danwei's first mention of the affair. See ESWN post Blog Incidents Blindsided Chinese Media

All of which is really lame. Despite greater aspirations, Danwei is still a wholly amateur project, produced by people who have other jobs. In my own case, I have a job that regularly requires 16-hour work days.

Professional journalists are actually paid money to research and write news. Research used to mean more than reading blogs and Googling.

Finally, more from Bingfeng on Danwei's increased coverage of censorship issues, and Two priority lists for China:

In many aspects, china is still in the early stage of the learning curve, and you need to move upwards step by step.

 censorship is relevant, democracy is relevant, but there are many other issues more relevant and more urgent. and the priority list made by chinese people is quite different from the one made by some overseas "china observers".

i am not suggesting that the second list is totally bullshit, actually we could learn a lot from it, but without doubt, the first one is mostly more founded.

the great value of westerners like Jeremy is that he could contribute a lot to reveal the chinese priority list to those outsiders and help them gain better understandings of china's reality, it would be a loss if danwei degrades to the level of "mainstream media" and become a propaganda tool of lecturing chinese how important democracy and free press are to china.

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