Last week I wrote here that China’s twitter equivalent, Weiboc.om, won a small victory over the censors in reporting the high speed train crash at Wenzhou, Zhejiang. Many factors such as the location and time of the crash contributed to the fast-moving reporting from eyewitnesses and the slow response of the censors. In the process Weibo.com became the media of choice for eyewitnesses as well as journalists. One statistics says in the six and half hours after the train crash, over one million mini-posts related to the accident had been posted to Weibo.com. That’s over forty mini-posts every second.
The attention was quickly moved on to the rescue mission. The crash site is in a reasonably populated area, only about 4 kilometres outside the Wenzhou South train station. Besides rescue workers, local residents (many joined the initial rescue) and journalists reached the site fairly quickly. The fiasco of the rescue operation was on full view, live to many eyewitnesses and many many more Weibo users sitting in front of the screen waiting for latest update.
Media newlight on 02 Feb 2010
Media newlight on 19 Jan 2010
OK, for those of you wondering what’s the fuss about, here are the vidoes of Mary-Jess Leaverland, who is on the front page of today’s Guardian. Her victory in a “Chinese X Factor” competition is reported by several papers (Telegraph, Daily Mail, and Sun).
The TV singing competition is called Min Ge Chang Fan Tian (民歌唱翻天, literally means “stars from ordinary people singing over the heaven”), organised by a TV channel in Jiangsu Province.
The vidoes show the final round. At the begining the first video, three competitors were presented, then the second runner-up was out, followed by the duel between the last two who each sang the final song, before the phone-in results were announced (in the second video). Mary-Jess Leaverland was called by her Chinese name Li Meijie (李美洁) throughout.
This video shows the round before that, begining with the “grand entry” of the last three competitors. Mary-Jess Leaverland spoke Mandarin in her intro video (at 6’30”), but it looks when it came to singing, she still preferred English songs.
Media newlight on 13 Jan 2010
On Twitter many people dismissed Global Times’s survey that 70% of its visitors support Chinese government against Google, who had just abandoned the self-imposed censorship on Google.cn and threated to close its business in China altogether.
The sad truth is that those who have made the effort of climbing over the GFW in order to access Twitter and like are belong to the 30%. In the same survey, over half the participants said their online activity won’t be affected by Google’s leave. This figure looks to increase if nothing happens.
Shanghaiist’s has a good summary of the Google v. China standoff. On the Guardian website, Tania Branigan has canvassed the opinions of some bloggers and media insiders. Whether Google decided to end its self-censorship purely out of moral reasons I’m not sure. I agree with some of Evgeny Morozov’s analysis. I guess it’s more likely they are fed up with the restraint and criticism while not seeing much gains in Chinese market.
Anyway, what Google has done is to blow it into the open, burn the bridge, making the stakes incredibly high. Now Google.cn is not censored, will the servers be forced to shut down, or moved out of China? And then what? Will Chinese government have to block Google.com as well?
Among the multinationals in China, Google is the one who has the power, influence and resources to make a clear stand on censorship. And now it has the will too. For that it should be praised.
Media newlight on 08 Jan 2010
Yes it is cold out there. It hasn’t been so cold for so long for many years in the UK. Minus 20C is cold. But why the British media insist that here is “almost as cold as the South Pole”? Times put it in the headline, Guardian and Telegraph (“only 2C warmer than the South Pole”) said so. The comparison is too good to miss for Channel 4 News and BBC News as well.
The temperature at the South Pole is about -22C to -25C at the moment. It is technically true that the coldest place in the UK is only a couple of degrees warmer than the South Pole. But I’m wondering whether the journalists realised, or chose to ignore the fact that it is summer now at Antarctica?
A series of short videos were posted on a Chinese video sharing website. You don’t have to know any Chinese to understand it, because you will have probably seen the scenes before somewhere else…
The title of the series, by the way, is Office HipHop Quartet. Besides ‘recreate’ the scenes, the makers – they have credit sequence – of videos are also cheerfully unasamed of the fact that two commericals are bluntly ‘placed’ (it goes way beyond ‘production placement’, without any irony).
Media newlight on 04 Dec 2009
Yeeyan, a community-based translation website, has been suspended for several days. When the website contents became inaccessible at the beginning of this month, an apology was posted on its homepage, citing ‘technical problems’. Rumours started to circulate on Twitter that Yeeyan was suspended by the authorities because of some contents seen as ‘improper’. A couple of days later one the founders of Yeeyan Zhao Jiamin confirmed the suspension. There are little details about the reason, and the future of Yeeyan is in doubt.
Valued itself as a website through which its members can ‘discover, translate and read the best internet contents not in Chinese’, Yeeyan has been doing a valuable work of introducing foreign language (mostly English) news and stories to the Chinese readers through an unofficial channel. It ran like a social network. Members of shared interest congregated around specific topics or particular publications before picking up pieces from foreign news sites and translate them into Chinese.
Media newlight on 01 Dec 2009
Media newlight on 18 Nov 2009
I was a bit surprised to learn that US embassy in China is working to ‘standardize the translation of common vocabulary in Chinese.’ They want White House to be translated as Bai Wu (白屋), instead of Bai Gong (白宫, meaning white palace), and Obama to be Oubama (欧巴马) instead of Aobama (奥巴马).
Well they are fighting a losing battle. Bai Gong has been commonly used to call the White House for many years (I doubt it has ever been called anything else). Bai Wu is plainly ridicules. I’m not sure whether this is political correctness or purely bureaucratic – in order for Chinese not to confuse President Obama with a monarch?
Washington Post also managed to read into the choice of Aobama and Oubama as a political gesture. Aobama is used in China mainland, while Oubama is used in Hong Kong and Taiwan. So Beijing’s insistence of using Aobama in the face of American ‘standardization’ must have some political undercurrent? It even suggests Ao (奥) in Chinese could mean ‘difficult to understand’, ‘abstruse’ and ‘obscure’, as if using Aobama is Beijing’s way of subtly demeaning Obama. I have to say this is fanciful over-reading. The simple fact is Aobama or Oubama doesn’t have much difference. Aobama, if you read aloud in Mandarin Chinese, sounds better, more masculine I would say, than Oubama. The character Ao itself, meanwhile, belongs to a pool of Chinese characters often used to translate foreign names, not associated with ‘difficult to understand’ etc. in such case.
Media newlight on 02 Oct 2009
The parade is of course a spectacle for the domestic audiences. Yesterday BBC led the report by “China celebrated 60 years of communist rule”. Well, yes, but people who are bewilded by the fuss and sometimes feel smug about it need to appreciate that Chinese people are immensely proud of what the country has achieved and they want to show it to themselves and to the world. Like it or not, parading the “best of us” at the a central point is the way to do it.
I didn’t watch the live coverage of the parade, but by watching several social networking sites, fed by pictures and comments, I managed to follow the event nonetheless. I wonder whether this is becoming the viewer experience in the future, that we must follow the online live comments from Twitter or others. Perhaps TV network would facilitate twittering in order to re-establish watching TV as a real-time “event”. But I dread the day when tweeting in the cinema becomes the norm.