CHINA

"Repeat after me": a crash course in Chinese journalism

This Chinese journalist has a problem: a toothless peasant won’t answer his questions clearly enough. No matter, he’ll just “suggest” the right turn of phrase, and even help the peasant rehearse his lines.

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This Chinese journalist has a problem: a toothless peasant won’t answer his questions clearly enough. No matter, he’ll just “suggest” the right turn of phrase, and even help the peasant rehearse his lines. Lights, camera, action!

The following video has Chinese Web users howling with laughter. It shows an interview shot in the village of Baoding, in the northern Chinese province of Hebei. The peasant has a thick rural accent, which prompts the urban journalist to make him repeat the sentence: “This year, the fruit trees and orchards have not been particularly damaged by hail” up to seven times.

 

The beginning of the exchange has been edited, so it is difficult to determine whether the peasant is being made to repeat what he wanted to say or whether it is a line fed to him by the journalist.

 

Video posted on YouKu.

"Some reporters are used to ‘helping’ people to express their ‘satisfaction’.”

Lan (pseudonym) is a journalist in Beijing.

 

This video is pretty funny. The main reason it was so widely viewed in China is not because it shows the journalist manipulating the interviewee, but because people enjoy laughing at the old man who has so much trouble repeating his lines.

 

The Chinese are used to the media being used for government propaganda. The 7 pm bulletin of the state TV channel CCTV is full of this kind of selective and biased ‘report’. In these programmes, the interview’s only purpose is to highlight the wonderful policies of the government. And to ensure that this objective is achieved quickly, some reporters are used to 'helping' people express their 'satisfaction'.

 

In China, people have only the official media to learn about government policy, but in the end, most of them do not care if what the journalists say is true. Not everyone has the know-how to decipher government propaganda."

 

Article written with France 24 journalist Ségolène Malterre.