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tv   Reporter Access in China  CSPAN  May 28, 2012 12:35am-1:30am EDT

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crime of the abuse is given to the authorities to be properly investigated. where i sat looked into this issue over the years come past. and i will look carefully at what the gentlemen said. >> order, i have a short statement to make. colleagues will be aware that the prime minister has issued a former invitation to the noble prize winner to visit the united kingdom next month. at my request and the lord speaker, she's kindly agreed to address members of both houses in westminster hall on thursday, 21st of june at 3 p.m. further details about applications to attend will be sent to members in due course.
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order. >> you have been watching prime ministers questions from the british house of commons. in recess returning live on wednesday, june 13. watch any time at c-span.org where you can watch other british programs. next the discussion on media discussion of china. and then a booking forum of america's role in the world. >> welcome to wichita, kansas.
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yee-ha. >> the mayor will talk about the problem we will have on taxic s taxicabs. >> june 2 and 3, book tv and history tv will cover local content vehicles. >> this was done in 1831, i believe this was issued for members immediate use only. not that they had xerox machines but they were not to loan this out. because as you can see, it told where everyone lived. >> watch wichita on june 2 and
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3. >> now media coverage of china. this is hosted by the ashia society in new york city. and they discuss a blind disiddent that arrived in new york last weekend. this is just under an hour. >> the title of this is mystery mayhem, this is one topic that never goes away. why don't you tell us about the
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changes you have seen in the time you have spent in china, in particular covering china. in terms of the media ability to cover that country. >> continue that question. >> you know it's still in some ways as difficult as ever. there are so many things, the most obvious is legal issues. it's really hard to get a journalist piece in coverage. as most know you have to get accreditation and submit an application to do interviews legally. and i don't have that, a lot of people don't. but there is another -- but beyond that, even more possibly, even more pervasive as a
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challenge is just sort of social opposition to controversial journali journalism. a lot of -- i would say that not so much freedom of speech. i am nervous. it's just that critical, curiosity. >> why is that? >> everyone makes everyone nervous asking questions about politics. especially older generations don't feel comfortable talking about politics in restaurants.
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and i think that the internet has done a lot to increase discourse. >> marcus, you have been around this block a few times. you have watched the broad sweep as a journalist and an as editor. how do you analyze the forces that are improving, and maybe the forces that are more retrograde. how do you see the picture as evolving? >> first of all thank you for organizing this panel. and thanks for inviting me. and congratulations, april, your stories were wonderful. i think that's the right way to frame the question. you can look at china as a snapshot or a moving picture. and if you look at china in a snapshot all that april
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described and revealed are pediments of getting a good visa. i spend more time than anyone trying to get a visa. and getting a visa is critical. you have to assume you are being followed and those getting interviewed after you. and that's the snapshot. if you compare to the 80s when you were there and others were there. it's a far different world. people are willing to let their names be used. one of our reporters now in china, keith richberg, is spending full time on twitter. monitoring the discourse that april is talking about. information is abundant and
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that's the business and political level. when i first move to hong kong in 1984. there were jesuits that worked in calleun. they had gone to hong kong and set up there. and trying to get the facts out of china. and they would look at the grease on the axle of the vegetables and try to figure out the state of the country. and that contrasts quite, it's a huge contrast today what bloomberg does. they probably have people dedicated to covering the petrochemical issue in china today. and it's vast more today and not to say it's easy and i sense
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there is some type of closing down of access. china is getting impatient with the ways of journalists. and that's i guess is my picture. >> it's astounding that the president of china has been in office for nearly a decade and never given an interview. >> one of the things that would be fascinating to see. whether the incoming president is more open and outgoing. i heard someone at his lunch in los angeles. and said that he didn't sit and eat his lunch. he walked around and met people. and maybe get more personality the next time around. >> i have been through a few generations of leaders. and there is always a tremendous amount of hope in the reality check of the opacity.
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>> that's true of any leader, orvill. you think that the next president of the united states will be nicer to reporters than the one before and they shut down. and at the risk of sounding like the geriatric panel, i remember in the 80s and i didn't have a visa either. and it was fun and liberating to fly below the radar. and makes you pick up on stories that the federation is picking up on and you don't bother. and you go to the new generation to make the change. and maybe that's what you do. and maybe a blessing, and maybe a pin in your neck too. and maybe being there is a good thing. >> you went from china to russia. >> i did. >> what is that comparison?
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>> audi did the same thing, the thing about russians they love to talk. and easy, you couldn't get them to stop talking. it's harder to pull stuff out. and people were so unused to foreigners and you had to spend such a long time that you were a foreigner and you spoke chinese. and you had to comment on that. russia was more open than china in the 1980s. i don't know about today. as marcus said, you have southern weekend or chinese publications that are doing interesting things. and the internet has been transformable. and you can't get into tibet and those areas.
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ch chingung is hard. >> they had an uprising in chingung. and i am guessing that because the violence was around chinese and maybe get the kind of press. >> and what was interesting who set up the press, the village that rose up against officials. they had an underground railroad for foreigner correspondents to get into. because they were blocked off. that's an interesting development and the reporting that foreign reporters can do. is significant for people inside of china. that's a new development. and that level of awareness of the foreign media and sophistication. and the old days when marcus and
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i were there. >> yet in many ways the reputation of the media in the west, i would say has suffered much damage in the last 20 years or so. and i think in a certain sense the paradox is that many americans find themselves agreeing with the chinese that the media is in a sense a negative force. >> oh, orville. >> april, you want to handle that one? >> that's how a lot of chinese people tend to see the situation. but -- speaking from you know, i was in muhong with these activists who had organized and i captured the attention of the
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international media. and as a result made the government take notice. and it was -- i think china has both. still very few people do read the foreign media in china. they say to really understand china you have to learn english. but local activists have gotten and the government have gotten so much better work with the foreign media. i think that one case is bukong. and also (inaudible) it was so interesting to watch the coverage of the downfall of the mayor of kauching.
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there were these is -- stories that the diversion of the affair of the wife and this british guy that got her son into boarding school in britain. and it seemed to go, you know, the chinese government has often done that with its own people. blamed after the downfall of a leader, they will scapegoat the wife to maintain the integrity and the reputation of the leadership of the party. so they took sort of the attention off and put it on like this affair.
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it was sort of similar to when (inaudible) died and put his wife on trial. i thought it was one of the most like, most interesting times when you could see the chinese spin master's manipulating the international medimedia. >> i want to know orville that today is the meeting of all of these journalism privates. there is still a lot of journalism being done. let's not weep too hard in our beer. and april is one great example. and there are more. [applause] >> that's an interesting question, isn't it. the role that such prices play
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in a society to encourage good journalism. certainly if you sit on a pulitzer jury that the papers would not generate that money unless a celebration of that work. marcus, as you look at our coverage of china, did you find the paper has trouble now financially justifying it? >> well, i kind of dispute the premise. i think there are some newspapers that pursue pulitzer prize ss in a craving way. >> but we don't name the names. >> no, there are across the country. reporters like to win prizes. they seek the accolades. but i think that most people who are reporting and capable of
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winning pulitzer prizes. are people that are passionate about what they do. >> but they don't do it alone. >> i don't think that a pulitzer prize will do much for you economically. sadly. more of the institutions are facing more pressure these days. and think harder about how they spend their money. but the big ones continue to invest heavily in foreign news. we built up our foreign news last year. it's a critical dimension for our readers. our readership surveys so that international news is one thing that they most desire for us. to continue to cover china is
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important for our audience. in addition to that, there is this pressure to cover china from these up-starts -- that's the wrong word. but new media, and bloomberg and retgers. and as i said there is more grandular coverage of china than has ever been. i don't think you can make the case there is not the great foreign correspondents. i think there is great foreign correspondents across the world. and more people doing journalism than have been. and it's a good picture. >> and i must say that peabody's
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that i came from, thank you for this prize, i had to beg from the general manager from my tv station for this time. and now feel it's justified. i think those prizes matter, and i hope they do to you. >> they do make a difference. part of what journalists are paid in is bylines. and it's not only curiosity. knowing that people are reading it. and recognizing it that keeps us determined. >> so what are you all aware of on the chinese side. that impresses you as very hopeful in the media. doing really good work and is
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new. start with you april. >> okay, this might be sort of an odd news source. or summation source to mention. but when i was asking people from all walks of life in beijing what they thought of the activists. most of them had not heard of him. including the students at beijing university. this one guy that did respond to that question. he's a baker at a dumpling shop. and he said, he gets his news from a variety of sources. chen guangcheng, the blind boy that escaped to the united
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states. and he had wrote about it on his favorite porn site. and apparently this site has learned some great techniques of getting around the great fire wall of china. and as a result it used those to create a vibrant forum. and a lot of people on their e-mail list and constantly sending out sources of their web address. >> new idea for the website. that's awesome. that has to be the overwhelming good news, the internet and all ways to get past the great firewall of china. that's huge. it's hopeful. >> i have these shadows on the cave wall. but chinese journalists come through washington and come by
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the office to visit. and if you watch the kind of questions you get asked. when i moved back to the west in '99, and most toured across the west and shop in century 21. and today people come into my office and tweet what we say. and probably not tweet worthy but that never stopped anyone. and they ask questions about business models and how we manage public relations and with the government and what we see our role as. a lot of questions about the pentagon and the post and the news media. and i take that hugely positive. the journalists are asking the right questions in china. >> i was visited by a journalist. they don't come with the same
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regularity as they do with the post. sometimes scared to come into the building. and i saw chung lumba. and so how is your competition with the morning paper. and he said, i come out in the morning. and i said, you are a wanba and that means you are just less under communist control. >> marcus, you mentioned p.r.. and that on the minds of many chinese is soft power. how do you guess soft power? whereas i think in a society such as our own, it's somewhat more of something that either generates or doesn't generate. it isn't something you can
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manipulate. i wonder how you look at china and your correspondents look at china and how they see that play out. >> how china gains soft power in the world? >> yes, and do you see that as public relations and soft power? >> again i feel a little too removed to be authoritative on this. but i am quite sure there is a range of institutions. it was clear i was there last october and saw some editors from news organizations. some do understand what the role of media and understand their responsibilities. and they know the risks as well. it's like when the high-speed rail crash occurred last year. there was a report i think in the wall street journal that some newspapers not only did the
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report that they got the instructions from the propaganda people to discontinue to report about this. and they caused that problem not to let that out. and someone kept reporting about it anyway. beyond the point of being told not to. and that's universal in the state controls media and assert influence. it's a vast country and there are a lot of people doing interesting journalism. >> i think that serious journalists have as strict restrictions as ever. but i think they are getting -- and in some cases the government's techniques for
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censorship are a little more sophisticated. but the journalists are still able to express themselves outside of the constraints. on the chinese knock-off of twitter. the newspapers were forced to run scathing attacks on chen guangcheng and that he was a part of issues. and one editor who wrote this it was a waiver of concession and apology. of a beijing site posted this tragic photo of a clown. backstage after the circus was
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over and smoking a cigarette and smeared make-up. and the caption was, we take off of our mask when the day is done and apologize. it was indirect and poignant insight into how the journalists feel about their constraints. >> i felt that one fascinating view of chinese soft pair came from andy higgins. the african young is meeting and those in south sudan are fighting over oil. and in the middle of negotiations have a cell phone to their ears and talking to a chinese diplomat. that's the kind of thing that an american diplomat would have done, and they still do. but that's the kind of role that china is poised to play in the
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world. and should play in the world given its oil interest in sudan and its role in africa. they were as interesting in repairing the fragile piece of those two countries as any of us on the outside. that's a good thing. >> how do you think that china is doing on the soft power? they are putting an enormous amount of energy into it and particularly expanding their media reach. is this successful? >> a lot of people are going to work for ctt because they got fired from cnn. but it is what it is. no one made up the chen guangcheng incident. and no amount of p.r. can back-pedal out of that. but china can try to sell themselves on the soft power but you can't fool anyone.
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china has a bad story to tell. it's not a democracy. and you can't sort of make up what isn't there. so i think they have taken a huge gigantic black eye. >> the question i would like to know the answer to is what is it like in asia right now? how is china perceived. whether immediately adjacent countries. the south china rank the philippines and asia and vietnam. i don't know how you get around that in terms of exerting soft power. the people reading the papers you are insisting that an island that is 100 kilometers off of a philippine island is chinese. and i don't how that argument works. >> some in china, really there
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is no sign of soft power. for the past couple of weeks the ctt has been beating the drum beats to war with the philippin philippines. and they are, you know people i talk to like the guy, the dumpling shop baker and with the news in the porn. and agreeing with the government, yeah we have to go to war and defend our sovereign territory. yeah, it doesn't look like soft power when you are in china watching. >> so you think within china the media has had a solitary effect on the way that the people view the world? or are things up and down and just unpredictable? are we making progress in the great promise of media to
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inform? >> within china? >> yeah. i mean we can ask the question about america as well. and i would hate to think of the answer to that. >> i don't think i know the answer to the question about china. >> what about america, marcus? >> let's have the answer on china. >> don't forget the answer on america. >> you mean is the foreign media making their impact? >> no, is the evolution of the media to provide more information. has it had a good effect in enlightening society? >> definitely. i would say that it's gone beyond the media of the newspaper. the magazine in china is the internet. it's a platform for the society that has never existed before.
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and it's still very much controlled. there are a lot of levers that the government can pull to diminish the conversation in ways that are almost undetectable to the average reader or microblogger. the active conversation i think is, it's a very individual media changing people's attitudes. >> marcus, how do you think we are doing here in this country? in many ways we fancy ourselves as the model of indepth thoughtful coverage. but when you look at the landscape how do you assess
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this? >> i don't know about that answer, i think that people want, there is a narrative line that journalism isn't reach people anymore. and everyone is focused in washington on the political debate. and there is rhetoric from this side and that side. and we get plenty of that. and i get e-mails from people on politics. one question you have ask. reading habits have changed. and people used to have only a certain diet of information available to them. if you lived in a small town in the united states, what you had was what your local newspaper could provide you. and most local newspapers didn't provide much depth. they could get the a & p and maybe "the washington times." but couldn't go deep. today if you live in any town
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with an internet discussion you can go as deep as you want on any subject. people have changed their habits and people may want to go deep on an area that interest them. and maybe not care about those things that passed them by that they once read. i am not sure that's necessarily a bad thing. there is a line about today the way that young people are consuming information is bad for democracy. i don't buy that. people will seek out the information they need for those decision. because the motivation they need is powerful. i think they do that today. if you ask the average person that is 20 that voted for obama in 2008. and how much he knew about obama and his platforms and ideas. i expect that person knew vastly
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more than the average person in the 60's that supported a candidate with promise. because the information is out there and conveyed more effectively. we never knew what people were reading when we published our papers 10 or 15 years ago. i sat in shanghai and wrote a story on general motors coming into shanghai. and i assumed that those were reading that article. and i came back and page by page we did this thing and from 100 people what they read. and once you get to page 3, 2% of the people are reading that article. but that's not true. people can go deep in the subject matter that interests them.
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and it's a different way of consuming information. and rather than demoaning that we look hard at what existed. and your news if you do robust, credible journalism. that should appear where the audience is. and you shouldn't expect the audience to come to you. >> this is a super-exciting time. and it's a complicated time. and people like marcus and how important is the ipad? and should my website be on a quadruple platform. this change has meant more pressure on media executives. and lost job. i don't mean to sound polly annish on that but it's a huge opportunity. >> the chinese often say if
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people only learned to speak chinese and become for familiar with china. and they would understand it better and we would have more understanding. i am wondering in your experiences with writers, yourselv yourselves, friends, colleagues, that have spent a lot of time in china. do people come out of that experience feeling -- what do they feel? what does the experience leave the people that spent a lot of time covering china with, about the country? >> i think people come out, you know, a lot of people go to china fresh. they still may be very excited about china. but they become embittered how they treat their foreign correspondents. it's very difficult. and not that they weres -- were
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friends with the government when they came but -- >> i think that people that go to china are fascinated with china. it's compelling and for most of us it's the best story and journalism we did. and if you look at the media, a lot of people did china running things. robert thomason at the washington journal and i did china. and harvard business review is a china person. there were a lot of people who were in china in the 80s and 90s that are now running things. we are all pushing for more sophistication in our coverage and a deeper understanding in china. and i think you see it in the coverage, and you look at
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the guangcheng thing and reuters has done this too. and part of that pressure comes from the people at the top and understand how important china is and why it matters. you come out caring about china and there are frustrations that may resonate from having been there. and this news organization in the u.s. to get a visa to go to china. when china says we want greater understanding. and we feel it's important for america to bring understanding. and we want to speak with someone who speaks english and met with a stone wall. that may create some frustration
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and we will persevere and climb over the stone wall. >> april, let me ask you, your friends in the media. do you notice any difference in attitude amongst your generation compared to the one above you? >> well, i would say that adding -- in some ways. i would say there is an opposite problem to what marcus and carol were talking about before. in that those who have, those who have access to foreigners. and the people who foreign journalists have the most action to and seeking interviews are the most privileged upperclass whether the wealthiest or
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powerful. so it's -- i mean privileged information comes from privileged sources. privileged sources tend to be the beneficiaries of the current system. and this sometimes the opposite tendency in some journalists to sort of be a little more polly annish in the current situation. >> it's hard to generalize. my time in china, i loved my time in china. i loved many chinese people. i wanted to strangle the government. there was a great variety, what do you think about china? what do you think of the universe? >> yes, history moves forward and there are trends. >> fair enough. >> let's have questions from you
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all. there will be microphones. this will be webcast, please wait for microphones. right here. in the front row. that's you. but let's see -- i think a microphone is on its way. >> hi, i wanted to have you all talk about how you believe that the incident will affect the chinese crest. marcus, you talked about the chinese journalists coming in and taking careful notes of what you are all doing. and chinese (inaudible) has become sophisticated and they have used the methods and technologies yet they don't report. this incident has blown the
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cover. and everyone in china is talking about it and everyone knows there is incredible corruption. and i wonder if that will have influence on the press moving forward? >> who wants to try that one? >> i can -- i don't have any idea. but i would surmise that the way that the chinese press has been allowed to work in the last couple of decades. the issues that the government is concerned about the press is allowed to write about. the press can cover environmental problems. and the press can cover corruption to the extent that corruption doesn't get too close to human powers. so this is an interesting moment. here is this corruption case. and it's really juicy but it
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obviously gets awfully close to the center of power. and on the other hand you could offer that the power center is served by this case. because it shows how right beijing was to intercede and arrest the wife. but if you pull that thread and unravels more than you hope. so i don't know. >> next question. >> we don't know. >> that's a good question. >> is the mic still down here? is there someone back there? >> i have a question for marcus, and what you talked about earlier about news media functions to inform the public. and one making guangcheng making
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the headlines, and at the same time it was hillary and geithner and other officials. and so is that made because you don't see much coverage on this dialogue during those days. is that a decision made at the washington post and that (inaudible). >> so happily for us we have sent our reporter with hillary clinton and the team from washington. so we were able to cover that. it was a relative story and one was more important as well as the strategic dialogue talks. and we went with the one that was human drama and played that
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as well as everyone else. great powers can walk and chew gum at the same time. so we in the news media tried to do that today. i think that the choice that was made was probably the right choice. to focus on the story that was surprising, dramatic. challenge the u.s. and challenge china and the outcome was unknown. >> i was in beijing as part of the strategic and economic dialogue. and the thing that impressed me was there was a dialogue and this parallel universe and the rest of the negotiations had gone on. what that told me is that both sides decided to be calm and not exagerate and play it to the hilt. and put fingers in the eyes of
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others. and i think in a business-like manner they worked out the dilemma. that was significant. and it took immense restraint particularly on the side of china. as and you note that mitt romney skipped out and called this a darkness to freedom. and then recanted. that was an interesting kind of moment. and maybe the story of that should be a little more made public. >> front page, washington post today. >> well, you are the man of the hour, marcus. >> recommend it. >> i thought it was an amazing story for americans.
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if i can be sentimental for a moment. it's not always that we can feel great about our country. when a blind chinese disiddent is chased by thugs. and he runs to the embassy of my country makes me proud. and it was a great story for americans to know and hear. and i think it was in some way an inaccurate representation of the real story. which is a drama happening inside of china. the guangcheng story is a story about chinese activists all over the country. and he represents one of the symbolically extraordinary of them. but it was a story that was so compelling to american readers, there is no way it doesn't surpass even timothy geithner.
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>> the power story in act actuality. >> a person back here. >> i am a freelance journalist. how serious is the repression of journalism in chinese today? >> chinese journalists? >> yes. >> i would say it's more sophisticated. for example, financial, journalists are not getting put in jail for stories. but their publishers are being fined to the point they have to shut down. so it's different. but probably just as strict as it was 15 years ago. >> there are lots of ways in
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which no-go subjects are understood by chinese media as media in any repressive country. so journalists know the lines and what they can write about. and those who go over the line and try to express themselves they do go to prison and can. >> this will have to be our last question. >> yes. given that in recent weeks the journalist correspondents (inaudible). and does not have a bureau in china. if the chinese government does this one at a time or like t"th washington post". we don't like what your reporters write and (inaudible). what effect do you feel that
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will have on press in china. and the current people in china and how we take their perspectives, how do we do that? >> there are a number of cases over the years where people have been actually expelled from china. some where people can't get visas and many are quietly waiting patiently outside and have not had their applications approved. >> i was telling you earlier before we came on stage. there is a really interesting idea going around now that lee from columbia university, the father of. journalist is in some ways an economic process. >> albeit not well paid. >> as it happens. but we are in the business of
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collecting information. and it's essential to our business. and you can make the argument and it's an interesting argument to make. these are trade infringements in a sense. if we can't go to china to collect information we can't conduct our business in a free and open trading environment. clearly china is not the only country to do this. it should be said. and china the authorities have attempted to give explanations why they keep people out. when i was at the wall street journal, we had a reporter who had difficulty getting a visa. and after a long process and many meetings and much pouring of tea. he's now in beijing for "the new york times." but when i got to washington for t"the washington post." and my guy congratulated me to
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give him a visa. and i said i don't care. we are fickle. but it's a continuing problem and china views the collection of information as a right. >> you had your hand up. one more question. >> hi, i am with the committee of protect (inaudible). i want us to agree with what is said, we are seeing a mixed picture of push-back from chinese journalists trying to get the stories out. but we are seeing a lot of chinese journalists in prison. and many on censorship. and they have (inaudible) of

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