Monday, April 4, 2011

Tibet, Lies and Videotape

Background: the Chinese authorities have a poor record on human rights and continue to restrict their citizen's access to blogging sites, Wikipedia, Youtube and Facebook.

Tibetan uprising in 2008 - push for freedom and independence from Chinese rule. China didn't want bad press about the uprising so supressed stories by banning the media. This was the Olympic year so a lot of interest.

Western Media reports were as a result predominantly anti-Chinese government. Chinese bloggers responded by hitting out at the Western Media for promoting inaccurate accountsof what went on, saying it created a simplified view that the authorities were violent towards protestors and the protestors were innocent Tibetan monks. This is ironic as China doesn't allow blogging, yet the bloggers were their own Citizens supporting them.

The Free Tibet campaign was promoted through FB, 100,000 signed up. 3 million people watched youtube videos about the protest. Hollywood stars got involved. The BBC put out an article saying there were significant challenges in dealing with the issue, considering the block on the Media.

Raises questions about the power of the Western Media. The bloggers have made the BBC and CNN rethink their approach to reporting on global issues, so have in effect promoted a more democratised media, by challenging the accepted norm.

Relevance for the exam: difficult to police this kind of debate online, yet really powerful because it was driven by the people.  This issue went viral and it wasn't possible to regulate who said what. The internet has enabled the world to see both sides of the argument. Audiences are being encouraged to question the dominant media and think for themselves about where they stand on the issue. Brings up wider issues about the relevance of regulation and the impact/role of the citizen journalist.

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