Saturday, July 30, 2011

Online rage continues, but does it change anything? - Jeremy Goldkorn

Jeremy Goldkorn
China's official media have been trying to catch up with the online anger of the country's internet users after the Wenzhou train crash, tells media analyst Jeremy Goldkorn in the Voice of America. Not for the first time, and certainly not for the last time. But does it make a difference?

The Voice of America:
Jeremy Goldkorn, a Chinese online media analyst and founder of Danwei.org, says state media found it difficult to ignore the amount of online criticism.

“By Monday morning there had been such a huge outcry in the Chinese internet and particularly on Sina Weibo about it that as the work week started on Monday the media was, the news media was playing catch up with the citizens reports on the Internet," said Goldkorn.

Seemingly, there is little the government can do to put a lid on [quiet] the outcry. Even its directives to state media outlets to limit coverage and to not investigate or comment on the cause of the accident have been leaked online, and are not being followed entirely.

State media have published strong editorials demanding a thorough investigation. ...

Then there were problems with the high-speed system.

"Just about three weeks ago, at the beginning of the month, the Beijing-Shanghai high-speed railway opened and ... and in some of the first few journeys through Beijing to Shanghai, some of the trains were delayed," noted Jeremy Goldkorn, "what should have been a five-hour journey ended up taking much, much longer, and people got stuck on cars where the air conditioning had broken down and they weren't given an explanation, and this became something like a little micro-scandal on the Internet, because people were posting photographs and complaints about that."

However, Goldkorn says it is hard to say if the public anger will prompt a re-assessment of the high-speed rail system. He notes that after a milk safety scandal hit China in 2008, there was also plenty of similar commentary online. In the end, he says, it did not seem to change monitoring of the dairy industry and food scandals continue to happen.
More in the Voice of America.

Jeremy Goldkorn is a speaker at the China Speakers Bureau. Do you need him at your meeting or conference? Do get in touch.
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