《南华早报》、《经济观察报》的blog报道

在《南华早报》的朋友发来了她写的关于blog的报道(英文),在网上没有链接,经过她的授权,同意我在自己的网志和cnblog上粘贴出来。她也希望能了解bloggers的反馈和意见。

文章我看了两遍,不论从英文写作或者新闻报道的角度来看,都是相当地道而专业的,条理清晰,力求客观、中立、多方面报道,让我受益匪浅。她在写这篇报道前半个多月就和我交流过,我提供了一些资料和链接供她参考,出来的文章是我看到的最好的关于“blog在中国”的英文报道(当然,总共也没看过几篇,呵呵)。

当然,报道仍然像境外媒体所习惯的那样,涉及政治;但我觉得它是以政治的视角,而不是“泛政治化”的有色眼镜来看待blog在中国的出现与发展、作用与意义。二者的差异是不言而喻的:谈到Great Firewall、屏蔽blogspot、中国blogger的自我审查与政治环境的关系,但是并没有将blog的作用、意义仅限于政治领域。一些细节也力求客观、平衡和提供各方面声音,例如既谈到德国之声评委对“狗 日报”是隐喻和象征的看法,也引用猛小蛇自己的话来declined to explore the political meaning of the metaphor he created in the Dog Newspaper;提到了“博客中国”和cnblog,也提到了“博客中国”受到的一些指责;谈到了“日企维权”、“兰州拆迁”等blog,也引用水木清华的sorrowrain的话来说明技术既带来自由也加强了控制的力度降低了控制的成本。

作者采访到了猛小蛇,此君说话蛮有分寸蛮狡猾。

关于“我不是博客”,这两段读来颇有趣味:

Made famous by Mu, the Chinese term for blog – boke (pronounced boh-ke) – was coined by Fang’s company. But Mao and Zheng don’t like the word, saying it stains the meaning of blogging because boke has since been understood as an online diary purely in Mu’s style.

They say they also fear the democratic and open nature of blogging will be ruined by the commercialisation advocated by the word’s inventor, Fang, who has been criticised for publishing users’ articles without permission, and for not paying a copyright fee while providing a blog-hosting service. Fang declined a request for an interview.

当然我也有些不同意见,例如,don’t like “BOKE”的原因不仅仅是害怕被误解为“木式博”,反对的还包括:这个翻译根本无法区分blog/blogger/blogging,有人非要给你扣“boke”这个帽子,还有把一切东西都boke化的厚颜无知行径,以及极少数boke的嘴脸等等。

下面是这篇精彩的报道(特别声明:商业网站转载请务必先征求原作者意见!):

Monday, January 17, 2005

Don’t be led astray�

By Joey Liu

MAINLAND BLOGGER Aggressive Little Snake was upset when he lost his mobile phone on a recent trip to his home town of Xuanhan in Sichuan province, but he’ll soon be compensated with a new Apple laptop valued at 50,000 yuan. It’s an award for his weblog Dog Newspaper, which was voted Best of the Blogs in the world’s first international competition, run by German state broadcaster Deutsche Welle.

Launched in 2002 by Yan Wenbo (his real name), the newspaper at www.18mo.�com is devoted to dogs. Put together in a collage style, the blog shows the unfair conditions that dogs suffer on the mainland and in other parts of Asia, compared with the treatment of animals in the western world. The blog also tracks the stranger and more curious aspects of a dog’s life, such as a match-making service, which Yan jokingly refers to as “dog prostitution”, dog begging and those lucky few that live as luxuriously as their owners.

“The jury members saw the winning blog as a successful metaphor for the situation of people living in China and other nations,” said Guido Baumhauer, online editor-in-chief at Deutsche Welle, organiser of the International Weblog Award 2004. “The blog is a good example of weblogs bringing up an issue that isn’t tackled by the traditional media.”

Blogging, a relatively recent tool for ordinary people to publish their views online, has been a hit on the mainland. First introduced in 2002, it has reportedly drawn more than half a million users, with the figure expected to reach three million this year. However, although blogging is seen as a promising new medium because of the freedom of speech it allows, bloggers on the mainland are cautious, by and large, about broaching one topic: politics.

Even Yan, the creator of what the jury decided was the best blog in the world, declined to explore the political meaning of the metaphor he created in the Dog Newspaper. “I admit that I intentionally made the contrast to show the inequality of dogs in the eastern and western worlds,” says the 33-year-old dressed in a pink shirt, jeans and sneakers. “But I would rather not elevate the meaning to the political level. If you interpret it as a parable on human rights, it’s your own interpretation. And I encourage different interpretations of my blog.”

The political parallels seem clear. As a dog lover and “father” of a Labrador and a schnauzer, Yan says he’s inspired by George Orwell’s Animal Farm, which tells of how a group of animals fall under the dictatorship of their revolutionary leaders, who have expelled the farm’s human owners. The ironic style of the blog can be seen from its Chinese title, gou ri bao, which can be understood either as “the dog newspaper” or “f*** the newspaper”.

But if Yan’s blog is a parable, why does he shun spelling it out? “I’m unwilling to get involved in politics,” he says. “If one day I mess up and it’s all over, where would the fun be in that?”

Eloquent and witty, Yan is liable to judge things by how much fun he has. Politics is something he classifies as “having no fun”.

As one of the earliest bloggers on the mainland, Yan knows what will happen if he’s not passive enough. In January 2003, the government blocked all access to blogspot.com, the server that hosts all blogs registered on the US-based portal blogger.com. It suspected a user on the site was publishing proxy server addresses that allowed others to circumvent the so-called Great Firewall of China, a system of policing the internet to filter out politically critical content.

In a country where the internet police are always alert (with 30,000 of them reportedly manning the Great Firewall), blogging spread slowly at first. Then, in November 2003, along came Mu Zimei. With explicit details and real names, the Guangzhou-based woman’s sex diary was such a huge hit that user registrations at blogcn.com, the host site, rose to 160,000 from 20,000 by late 2003. There was a similar influx of registrations and visitors to other blog-hosting sites.

Mu’s highly personal style was enormously influential on blog designs, and broke down many taboos. Another blogger, Zhu Ying Qing Tong, posted photos of her naked body. Weng Fan, a 28-year-old graduate student who recently married an 82-year-old conservative physician, Yang Chenning, is also an avid blogger, who posts love poems between her and her elderly lover.

“Now, blogs have become women’s powder rooms,” says Yan. “But it seems to be inevitable. There are two groups of people online: exhibitionists and voyeurs. Their existence is the product of our environment, which doesn’t allow people to talk about serious issues, and encourages them to talk about personal or trivial things.”

Two main groups of people have been crucial in the development of blogging on the mainland: CNblog.org and BlogChina.com. Shanghai-based information technology specialist Isaac Mao Xianghui and his Fujian schoolteacher partner Zheng Yunsheng set up CNblog.org and an online forum about blogging technology and culture. Beijing-based Fang Xingdong set up BlogChina.com in August 2002, roughly at the same time as Mao started his blog-hosting business.

Made famous by Mu, the Chinese term for blog – boke (pronounced boh-ke) – was coined by Fang’s company. But Mao and Zheng don’t like the word, saying it stains the meaning of blogging because boke has since been understood as an online diary purely in Mu’s style.

They say they also fear the democratic and open nature of blogging will be ruined by the commercialisation advocated by the word’s inventor, Fang, who has been criticised for publishing users’ articles without permission, and for not paying a copyright fee while providing a blog-hosting service. Fang declined a request for an interview.

While the Great Firewall of China is blamed for having extinguished mainland bloggers’ enthusiasm for politics, Yan says that other factors are also at play. A key issue is China’s decades-old ideological education, which instils a sense of self-censorship in everyone. That’s exacerbated by new rules requiring all internet service providers to pledge self-censorship before they can operate.

“Chinese are politically different from foreigners,” he says. “We study politics from childhood. We all have a strong sense of what can be said and what cannot. Reality teaches you to protect yourself. There’s a Russian blogger who writes his daily life in the tone of [Vladimir] Putin. But in China, can you imagine someone daring to do the same?”

However, a few brave souls have begun to take up the blog as a communications and publicity tool, showing its potential. On December 17, strikers in a Japanese factory in Shenzhen set up a weblog to document how the local police were helping the investor stop the strike. The blog was spotted by The New York Times, which reported the story.

In another case, Tinyfool, a Chinese blogger, reported that a group of villagers in Lanzhou set up a blog in October to protest against the eviction and confiscation of their farmland by local authorities. In response, local officials set up their own blog to “clarify some facts”. It was a blog war.

Seeing how the government was prepared to use blogs to fight back made some users fearful. As a blogger under the internet name of Sorrowrain writes: “While technology enriches the means of mass communication, it also enriches the government’s means of control. The cost of control is lowered and the control can be more powerful.”

However, Yan hasn’t lost his faith. Two months ago, he quit his job as a sub-editor with China Business Post to join Fang’s BlogChina.com. He’s responsible for editing the website’s weekly online magazine, made up of the best articles published on the site within a week.

“For now, the internet still provides the freest environment in China,” says Yan. “As long as you don’t take the joke too far, no one will stop you. It’s the place where I can have most fun.”

“I’ve finished editing two issues [of the BlogChina.com’s online magazine] so far. I’m now thinking of doing an issue with a red cover featuring a worker, a soldier and a farmer, like this …” Yan draws an elbow across his chest in a martial pose often seen on posters during the Cultural Revolution.

“It’s real socialism, isn’t it? I like jokes like that,” he says, winking.

 

说句题外话,看文章的最后两段,不禁有点感慨。我们的社会呈现这样一种趋势,一面是“主流媒体”和“喉舌”上,关于工、农、兵(老百姓)的报道和内容不断,但很大程度上延续着十几年乃至几十年的一些话语习惯,和他们的描写对象渐行渐远无法贴近,成为一种“符号”;另一面是侵入普通人生活的“大众传播媒介”,在这些销量、收视率、阅读率最为巨大的市场化媒体中,真正有关工、农、兵的内容是缺失的,因为他们和广告无关甚至“有害”,但同时“工农兵”作为另一种符号,一种时尚、流行、有趣、“joke”、视觉化的东西被应用,就像上述在线杂志的红色封面。

另一篇有关的近期文章是《经济观察报》的《Blog:一种大众消费品》,作者是我的另一位记者朋友。坦率的说,它和《南华早报》的报道是有差距的。

当然,中国记者往往会把文章写得既像报道又像评论。严格来说,本文属于综述/评论文章,不是新闻报道,带有观点。所以要求它客观、平衡、中立报道是困难的。作者按照国内此类文章的一贯写法,没有第一手的材料,代之以广泛收集的资讯,附加上作者本人未必准确的观点,按照某种视角和框架整合成文。

从文中摘出一些句子:

  • 2005年伊始,原本是话题中心但与大多数人关系不大的blog有成为大众消费品的趋势。
  • blog这一新兴工具进入中国,大致存在两个源流:一方摇旗呐喊,一方埋头实干。
  • 过去两年,围绕blog的定义以及译名,国内网志作者分化为两大主要阵营。
  • 在围绕网志的争论中,网志被描绘成了一种精英行为,承载了太多的社会使命,它的业余精神反倒一直被忽视。
  • 人们往往给网志贴上革命和草根之类的标签,但在冷静的投资人眼中,网志更应成为一个大众消费品。

和前一篇英文报道参照来看,不难发现,作者在以一种报道客观存在事实的态度和笔触,来陈述自己的观点,对于大多数读者,他们会认为:哦,这就是目前的现实,真的就是这个样子的,作者只是在介绍。而实际上呢?“大众消费品”的说法严谨吗?大众基本上还没为这个花钱。“博客中国”除了摇旗呐喊,难道没有实干吗?恐怕还是干了些什么的。网志作者真有所谓的两大阵营吗?我不认为有所谓的阵营存在。在争论中网志真的只是被描绘为精英行为,业余精神“一直被忽视”吗?这只是作者行文需要的一个承上启下句吧。“冷静的投资人”?我还觉得“博客是一个风险非常高、回报非常高的领域”的说法非常之弱智呢。……总之,这种报道和评论杂糅、把观点伪装成事实的写法是危险的,是无益于读者了解事实真相和独立思考的。

当然这不完全是作者的过错,包括编辑乃至媒体机构的要求、设定和修改,包括社会风气潮流。我也写过类似的文章。就算是自我批评吧。

黄在发稿前曾给我看过本文的草稿,和现在经过编辑删改的有些不同。原名叫“blog的幽灵”,不妨对照上文摘出来的句子看草稿中的句子有何不同:

  • 第一句(草稿中无)
  • 第二句(没有不同)
  • 第三句(没有不同)
  • 第四句:在方兴东和毛向辉的宣传中,网志成了一种精英行为,似乎承载了太多的社会使命,而业余精神反倒一直被忽视。受制于新闻和信息流动制度,网志在中国最有可能的形态,恐怕还是业余爱好
  • 第五句:具备精英气质的人往往给网志贴上革命和草根之类标签,但在冷静的投资人眼中,网志更应成为一个大众消费品。

草稿的结尾是:网上杂志《沙龙》的声音言犹在耳:“忽略这样一种力量,也许会是一种错误。”政治或者商业,忽略网志将是一种错误。——当然,本文有关政治的所有内容都被编辑拿掉了,毕竟是“经济”观察报嘛。只是可惜,关于经济,或者商业的视角,本文同样做得不够好。

同时编辑还删掉了这样一句话:

一位网志作者maomy评论说,“今年中国有什么独家新闻是从blog发出的吗?有什么舆论监督是由blog进行的吗?有什么社会动荡是由blog引起的吗?有什么历史进步是由blog促成的吗?孙志刚、宝马、黄静、SARS、马加爵、农民调查、拆迁、艾滋病、西安体彩……这些事情的进展跟blog发生关联了吗?台海局势呢?天气预报呢?物价呢?”

其实文章作者是想借此说明他的观点:blog并未改变中国的话语权结构,它并不像其狂热鼓吹者说的那样无所不能。这引语出自我一篇旧文 Blog会被像杂草一样割除吗?另一篇旧文太阳底下无新事——媒介史视角下的blog中也有我对此的相关看法。

Anyway,这两位好朋友写出了两篇言之有物的文章,颇有启发。她和他也将以前一些被媒体忽略的事实呈现了出来。感谢他们的工作。



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