The whole internet-sabbatical aspect to this trip has been derailed mightily. It’s because there’s wifi at the bakery and this is where I’m spending so much of my time. And I don’t need to borrow Holly’s laptop, since I brought my netbook whose VPN works so I can access the world the way I would at home. Sort of.
Last night I was talking with one of Holly’s friends about Chinese media and free expression and such. He’d been to the States on a scholarship given out by the government after the 2008 Sichuan earthquake (that was a Red Cross/Crescent link – here’s the Wikipedia version) which did a lot of damage to his hometown. He had some personal experience with the media since he was interviewed by China Daily as well as a Sichuan newspaper about his experiences.
He complained about China Daily’s “famous reporter” changing everything he’d said to “make the government sound so wonderful.” What I found really interesting was how after the interview he’d been contacted by China Daily to say they’d have to make some small changes to make it sound better. “They were not small changes!”
The Sichuan paper reporter got him mad for being too prying, and forcing him to think about all the ways he felt when the terrible things were happening to his hometown (he wasn’t there at the time). “What was your feeling then?” the reporter kept asking. I had more sympathy for this reporter, since if you don’t pry you just get crappy bland stories.
We also talked about Tibet and whether it was always a part of China. We talked about the importance of a diversity of perspectives in history and current events. I talked about how the corporatization of Western media makes it suck (not as much as state-controlled media but that it isn’t as great as its ideals might suggest).
We didn’t get into Wikileaks.
Holly’d been working and only passing by our table occasionally, and I was talking most of the time. The only question she needed to ask about that odd state of affairs was “So was it comics, baseball or journalism?”