:: this week’s Friday 5 takes a second look at Chinese journalists who blog. The individuals profiled here are all quite popular on the Chinese Internet, some because of the reporting they’ve done in the line of work, and others because of their online activities. Their blogs involve journalism and media to varying degrees; it’s interesting to see how much of their own lives and outside interests they bring to the massive online readership they command. Journalists also take advantage of the more open (yet still censored) online environment to post things that might not be able to make it into print.
Dong Lu (董路) was once the host of Beijing TV sports programs and remains an extremely prolific and well-known soccer journalist. His blog posts on Sina get page views in the tens of thousands. He comments on international and domestic football but often strays into other sports, as in a popular post titled “Yao Ming, China is calling you home for dinner!” (a play on the Jia Junpeng Chinese Internet meme mentioned in a previous Friday 5) that has been viewed 70,567 times. Dong Lu is a fan of posting videos to his blog: sometimes entertainment news, such as this discussion of Pan Changjiang (潘长江), a TV actor famous for his peasant roles, his unusually beautiful daughter, and the TV program they have together. There are also some more personal, moving posts about his daughter starting school, and a video of his daughter dancing in front of a KFC. Popular CCTV sports journalist Zhang Bin (张斌) started his career in soccer. Now the deputy director of the CCTV Sports department as well as producer for some of their primary soccer shows, Zhang achieved fame after graduating from Renmin University in 1991, going on to host Soccer Night (足球之夜) on CCTV as well as special sport shows during EURO 2000, also on CCTV. Zhang Bin keeps a blog on Sohu called CCTV-ZhangBin, with page views in the tens of thousands. A recent post on Liu Xiang (刘翔) in which he argued that China’s star hurdler should keep running if he is passionate about sport, received 30,000 page views. Zhang Bin keeps mostly to sports-related topics on his blog. In another recent post, he pondered on whether Caster Semenya, the South African 800-meter gold medalist, was male or female. Zhang Bin is often perceived as a model Sports anchor: friendly and kind. This is reinforced by a public announcement on his blog about drinking up all the contents of a mineral water bottle rather than wasting water by throwing it away half-finished. However, Zhang is also somewhat notorious for a public marital spat in which his wife. Hu Ziwei, another well-known television personality, crashed a live CCTV broadcast to accuse him of having an affair.
arts / Entertainment ::
Meng Jing (孟静) is a senior reporter for the news weekly Sanlian Life Week (三联生活周刊) who is well-known for her celebrity profiles and interviews. Her blog, which she updates in periodic bursts, follows her work fairly closely. She writes about the practice of journalism (as in one recent post on the uncomfortable necessity of flattering an interview subject), and posts intriguing snippets of interviews that didn’t make it to print. However, her interests range widely, from feminism to groan-worthy jokes. Yuan Lei (袁蕾), who blogs under the name Milk Pig (奶猪), is often called the southern counterpart of Meng Jing. Yuan, who writes for the culture section of Southern Weekly (南方周末), is a keen-eyed interviewer in her day job. Her blog is considerably less formal, and employs a curious writing style that approximates a sort of girlish tone through the use of character substitutions and odd vocabulary choices. Ahead of the publication of major interviews, she’ll often present pull-quotes or teasers, and she also puts up interesting observations and anecdotes that may not amount to proper news stories (such as an account of a telephone scam). Other posts are devoted to media and policy rumors and wry comments on spiked stories, but the cutesy language distances her from other journalists who trade cynical comments about media and politics. Lately there have been quite a few photos of her dog.
Chang Ping (长平 real name Zhang Ping 张平) is a journalist who has served as director of the news department of the prestigious Southern Weekly and as the deputy editor of Southern Metropolis Weekly (南都周刊) but was forced out from his editorial position after publishing “sensitive” editorials around the time of the Lhasa riots last March. Chang Ping has abandoned blogs on Tianya, Sina, and iFeng because of frequent deletions by blog administrators, and opened a blog on an independent domain. Most recently, Chang Ping blogged about the Kunming prostitution case, before “technical problems” took the blog down for three months before August. Thanks to Isaac Mao and Zuola (Chinese Internet insider and citizen blogger respectively; see these interviews from the CNBloggercon), it is active once again. Chang Ping has an active Twitter account as well as a column on the FT Chinese website where he writes about issues such as civic society. Xiong Peiyun (熊培云) is a European correspondent for the newsweekly Window of the South (南风窗) and a senior commentator at The Beijing News (新京报). This year he launched a new group commentary blog, 21Pinglun to replace his personal blog la république d’esprits which is blocked on the Chinese mainland. Posts concern a wide range of subjects, with a particular emphasis on rural issues (which Xiong occasionally writes about for the magazine and other media outlets). Xiong recently wrote about Internet Addictive Disorder and shock treatment, referencing the Ludovico Treatment from A Clockwork Orange. Much of the content consists of reposts of op-eds originally published elsewhere, with deleted portions restored in many cases, a common practice on blogs kept by print media columnists.
Apart from his day job as a host and anchor for various TV programs on CCTV’s international and business channels, Rui Chenggang (芮成钢) is also a blogger who keeps a high-traffic, influential blog where he regularly posts photographs in which he stands shoulder-to-shoulder with his world leader interviewees who usually have his book in their hands (former British prime minister Tony Blair, for example). With his established career in the media, his young, energetic screen image and good looks, Rui is idolized by numerous young students, who see him as a mentor and role model. His international outlook and rare fluency in English among his state media colleagues earns him the title of best qualified candidate for China’s ambassador to the world among some Westerners. However, Rui has no shortage of critics. He has been called an egotistic self-promoter, an unprofessional journalist who has overstepped the boundaries of his field by playing economist, a dyed-in-the-wool nationalist for his crusade to drive Starbucks out of the Forbidden City in 2007, and a propaganda mouthpiece for the government. Recently, Rui stoked controversy again with his questions to American president Obama at the G20 summit in London. After writer, car racer and blogger Han Han posted Rui’s questions and Obama’s answers in both English and Chinese on his blog below characteristically sarcastic comments, the topic was picked up by other netizens and heatedly discussed in various forums. Most netizens found Rui’s wording “on behalf of China” and “on behalf of the World” an inappropriate expression of a typically condescending attitude of the Chinese government toward the Chinese people. Rui’s upbeat blog post about his performance at the Summit only exacerbated netizen ire and heaped more ridicule upon him.
Chai Jing (柴静), a television journalist with CCTV’s News Investigation program, resumed blogging this year after a lengthy hiatus. Chai is conscious of the possibilities of her blog as an interactive platform, typically using videos of her programs as a prompt for readers to discuss the key issues at hand. She then responds to netizen questions. In two recent posts, she explained her view of the comments section and her moderation practices. Other posts address the practice of journalism in general, like a recent selection of excerpts from a Walter Cronkite book. Chai’s high profile, accentuated in the past month by her involvement in the exposé of shock therapy clinics for Internet addiction, means that she’s sometimes the target of nasty rumors. She recently had to fight back at online rumors that she had been arrested for accepting bribes in return for providing CCTV advertising spots to a Chongqing textile mill. Chai also occasionally contributes to Xiong Peiyun’s 21Pinglun (as in this anecdote about gentrification and cultural heritage). Wang Keqin (王克勤), a journalist with the China Economic Times (中国经济时报), has been called China’s chief anti-corruption journalist for exposing “the dark side of society.” Wang is unique in working up to a story to post on his blog, probably with the knowledge that the full version will not be published in print. For example, he tried to visit Deng Yujiao in June, when she was released from a trial centering on the murder of two officials in Hubei province. She was acquitted on self-defense grounds (she had stabbed the two after they tried to sexually harass her), but Chinese and Western media were prevented from visiting her at home. Wang’s record of his futile efforts to get there has since been taken down by Sohu, but is available in a reposted version. Wang’s accounts of his journalistic activities end up widely reposted: another account of violent attempted visit, this time to to the family of blind lawyer Chen Guangcheng (陈光城), was cross-posted to liberal blog service my1510 by Zhai Minglei (翟明磊), who is also a well-known muckracker (See this interview from the CNBloggercon). Wang is sometimes called China’s Lincoln Steffens as a salute to his muckraking tendencies. A list of his articles up to 2006 is collated at the China Elections and Governance Chinese website.
[Friday 5 is the product of my work for Edelman Digital (China). Link here for the full Friday 5 archive. If you'd like to be added to the bilingual (English & Chinese) Friday 5 email distribution list, please send me an email at: adam DOT schokora AT edelman DOT com.]