A bit off topic, but over the weekend, I was looking for some independent coverage of the marches taking place in Hong Kong. Sadly, a brief scan of the major news sites revealed no coverage and gave preference to news items like how the face transplant lady is doing well (ABCNews), the Bush motorcade getting into a wreck (FOXNews), how advertisements in video games are serious business (CBSNews), how some legendary entertainers were honored at the Kennedy Center (CNN), and how China has ordered 150 airplanes from Airbus (NYTimes). What a sad commentary it is about the US media when it ignores such a populous People's struggle against its ruling government for freedom and democracy.
Has the American media-megaplex forgotten how the owners of Revolutionary War-era newspapers were severely punished for speaking out against the colonial government? I sent a note to Rebecca McKinnon, a fellow at the Harvard Law School's Berkman Center for Internet and Society to see if she knew of any bloggers that were reporting from the march. In her coverage of some pretty horrific accounts of free press oppression as well as the overall rise and crackdown on Internet-based media in China, McKinnon is one of the more prolific bloggers when it comes to the the press, blogging, censorship and China. Earlier this year, the Chinese government issued a policy that, according to the state controlled Xinhua news agency, banned "the spreading of any news with content that is against national security and public interest." According to the UK-based Guardian, "With the help of western technology firms and internet companies, China filters foreign sites, restricts blog postings, limits online chats and censors instant messages for the second-largest online population in the world." Earlier this year, Yahoo became entangled in the Chinese government's effort to track down and imprison a journalist that it claims had leaked state secrets.
In her e-mail reply, McKinnon, pointed me to Charles Feng's blog. In the course of blogging his observations of the march, Feng disputed the 250K headcount estimated by some, but listed and linked to some of more important issues that the march covered (in addition to "universal suffrage"). I don't know where the Chinese authorities draw the line on journalism that's "against national security and public interest," but Feng's blog included photos and appears to be carefully worded in such a way that it pushes the government's limits. By listing and linking to the key issues, he's not asserting his own opinions. But he's clearly providing the details one might need to form their own.