Is the "Western media" biased in its reporting about China? What are the frames and narratives that inform the Anglophone media's understanding of the county, and what are the misunderstandings about the "Western media" that lead Chinese people into believing Western reporting is more biased than it is? This week, Tania Branigan from the Guardian, Jeremy Goldkorn from Danwei and serial China entrepreneur Bill Bishop join host Kaiser Kuo in a discussion of this perennial topic. And lest you mistakenly believe that it's only the Western media writing critical stories on China, we discuss the state of investigative reporting in China, focusing on a recent piece by Tania in The Guardian about China's best-known investigative journalist, Wang Keqin.If you enjoy this podcast, be sure to share your thoughts in the comments section, or by writing us at email@example.com. And remember, to subscribe to the Sinica show through RSS, just open up iTunes, click on the "Advanced" menu and select the option "Subscribe to Podcast". When prompted, copy the URL http://popupchinese.com/feeds/custom/sinica into the box. If you'd like to download this mp3 directly from our site you can also grab it as a standalone mp3 file. Enjoy!
May 29, 2010
I get a loading error when trying to play the podcast.
May 29, 2010
I'm not in Beijing and not capable of fixing this now. Suggest that anyone who has problems with the flash version just download the standalone MP3 file linked to in the podcast introduction. It definitely works.
May 30, 2010
just click the "standalone mp3 file" link at the bottom of the text. should just come up as a quicktime file on your browser. Also really liked your article Tania, had never heard of him before, maybe if we drum up a bit of fame for him get him on the next Time list, he might start getting paid more and other Chinese journalists might be inspired to try break bigger stories and up their paychecks.
May 31, 2010
I completely agree that, if China became democratic, the voting public would be no more enthusiastic about "free Tibet!" than the current government is. However, it would be a lot harder for them to maintain control. They might be wise to implement a two-tier system, where democracy is only extended to the Han areas -- in practice, "regional autonomy" would mean that the local government is able to act independently of public preference. This would, of course, highlight the Tibet issue and the double standard would serve as a rallying point. The other alternative would be to extend democratic elections to the autonomous areas. I suspect this would result in nationalist politicians being elected in much of the Tibetan region. At best, this would be an embarrassment: the local government of a enormous land area explicitly opposing the government in Beijing. At worst, these political organisations could become the backbone of an armed insurrection, like what happened in Ireland with the old Sinn Fein. This train of thought strikes me as more likely to be an obstacle to democratisation in China than to be a benefit to Tibetan or Uighur groups.
June 1, 2010
I always find the English language press has more balanced options (Economist, Atlantic, New Yorker) than the German press, where even respected sources like Der Spiegel or Sueddeutsche Zeitung regularly display anti China bias in story selection and content. Its quite disappointing really and forced me to seriously reevaluate my view on several publications and their journalistic standards.
June 1, 2010
Good work chaps, this week was particularly good I thought. Personally I think you should feel free to carry on chatting for as many hours as you like. Is there any chance of slightly upping the volume levels though? It's a bit of a struggle to hear sometimes on the subway even with my ipod volume on max.
June 2, 2010
Nice job! I do have noticed that reporting about China in states have become less ‘biased’ and more comprehensive after the financial crisis. One point worth to note is because the prolong ‘biased’ narratives, especially with the Tibetan riots and Olympic reporting in 2008, the westerns medias have alienated themselves from the oversea Chinese, and ended up instigating pro-china patriotism in the west Chinese communities, especially among the students groups, many have returned home and become even more nationalistic because their experience in the west. Rao, the founder of anti-cnn was a student in states at the time.
June 2, 2010
can you guys do a podcast on china's environmental situation? what are some of the public views on environmental degradation? where is the money being invested to clean it up? how serious is the water crisis in the north? how much of the actual health problems suffered by the population are being addressed? china is one of the world's largest solar panel producers, are they installing more panels domestically? what is the real state of their ecosystems? maybe you could look at things from a short, medium, and long term impact...
June 3, 2010
Much of the first paragraph, especially the part "what are the misunderstandings about the "Western media" that lead Chinese people into believing Western reporting is more biased than it is?" doesn't make sense: It is basically saying that there is no such thing as western media bias and that it is simply a misunderstanding on the part of the Chinese to believe that the western media are biased. And four westerners discussing western media bias? That's just too funny. Wouldn't it be better to have some Chinese perspectives?
June 4, 2010
@Mattjustinkelly - We're planning an environment podcast that will feature Jonathan Watts and Alex Wang. Jon is the Asia environment reporter for The Guardian, and Alex heads the Natural Resources Defense Council in China. Great suggestion. Thanks especially for the specific questions you suggest. @Pfeffer - Your point taken about four westerners and media bias; it would certainly be better to have more Chinese perspectives not just on this issue but on all the topics we cover. Unfortunately I have a hard time finding Chinese people who fairly represent, insofar as anyone can, "Chinese perspectives" and who also speak English fluently enough to really hang in often very rapid conversation. As to your suggestion that we're saying there's no such thing as media bias, that's obviously not the case, and if you listen to the podcast you'll see that's so. But I stand by the assertion that there are profound misunderstandings among many Chinese people (in fact, among many people irrespective of nationality) about the way news is reported, written, and published, and these misunderstandings often lead them to conclude that bias is more pervasive than I believe it is. There's no question that bias exists, and I bristle about it probably much more than most westerners in China; I was simply interested in being fair to hardworking, generally fair-minded journalists who are often not at fault for the final product that goes to press. -Kaiser
June 4, 2010
I just flew from Los Angeles to Beijing with a marathon of every Sinica ever podcasted to keep me company. I felt like I was at China's most interesting dinner party. Seriously guys, I come from a career in politics so I've had my share of media talk shows and great dinner parties, and this is the best of both. Your show is incredibly organized, witty, fun, thoughtful, deep. As good or better than any of the Sunday morning talkies in the States, and essential listening for anyone interested in China current affairs. Great start! - I'll continue to listen in.
June 5, 2010
Thanks Kaiser, I'm gonna be in Beijing on a business trip June 23-27, Anthony suggested I go to one of your shows, are you performing any those dates? Any word on when he will be done with his Ride2Freedom expedition?
June 5, 2010
@mattjustinkelly Unfortunately we don't have any dates during that time; we have a major show on the 18th at Mako, a new live venue. I'm sure we'll be playing a lot this summer, though. We're playing Zhenjiang Midi in October so be sure to check that one out.
June 11, 2010
What was the Glenn Greenwald material that was referenced in the podcast?
June 12, 2010
@sambowden, here are some links from Bill Bishop: http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2010/04/26/douthat http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/feature/2010/05/26/new_york_times_blumenthal_omission You should also read this interview on atlantic webiste today with greenwald http://www.theatlantic.com/special-report/ideas/archive/2010/06/an-interview-with-glenn-greenwald/57976/ from 2007: http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2007/07/09/hoyt
June 20, 2010
This episode was less well moderated and got a bit confusing but was still good.