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Monday, April 19, 2004

A plaintive Chinese voice for ethics in journalism

I was so moved by the tone of this article, Ethics and The Little Red Envelope, tucked away three clicks deep in the "Most Popular" compilation in China Daily's website. Certainly it's not as dramatic as the persecution of the outspoken editor of The Southern Metropolis News in Guangzhou, which is being closely followd by journalism watchdogs worldwide, but it's an authentic voice in the rising tide of Chinese journalists yearning for a freer and less corrupt press.
Ethics and the little red envelope
By Zhu Qi (Shanghai Star)
Updated: 2004-03-24 08:42

I was recently talking to a professor who was organizing an event for the China Europe International Business School (CEIBS). Knowing I used to work in the media sector, Dr Linda G. Sprague asked me an embarrassing question: "Why must we give journalists little envelopes containing 300 yuan?"

I had to say it was the transportation payment. "Isn't it too much?" asked the American. Yes, I admitted, the money was enough for a taxi journey between Shanghai's two airports. But, this was the usual practice.

The conversation took me back to my first solo reporting assignment. I was disturbed at receiving a little envelope but both the event sponsor and my boss told me it was normal procedure. Since the event was nothing but a promotion for a new product, I was tortured about what to write. Finally, as the money was biting me through my pocket, I wrote a short report, going against my judgement as to its newsworthiness. The self-torture gradually phased out as I undertook further reporting of business events.

Read the rest here...

We do it a little differently in the states. Commercial and entertainment press conferences are often sumptuously catered and liquor flows freely. Product related gift packs are distributed. For top-tier reporters there are expense-paid junkets. But nobody gives cash, not even cab fare. And it's so common that nobody talks about it in the press. I'm encouraged that the Shanghai Star published it and China Daily propagated it.

// posted by Ellen @  17:54   //Permalink// 
Ellen says hey
Mainer, New Yawka, Beijinger, Californian, points between. News, views and ballyhoos that piqued my interest and caused me to sigh, cry, chuckle, groan or throw something.

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