CPJ Blog

Press Freedom News and Views

Madeline Earp

Madeline Earp is senior researcher for CPJ’s Asia Program. She has studied Mandarin in China and Taiwan, and graduated with a master’s in East Asian studies from Harvard. Follow her on Twitter @cpjasia and Facebook @ CPJ Asia Desk.

Blog   |   China

Chinese microblog regulates, suspends users--again

Several Internet users in China are now unable to access Weibo, the popular microblog platform. (Reuters)

Pity those of us who monitor the ups and downs of China's popular microblog platform, Sina Weibo. For every story its users spread in defiance of local censorship, there follows a clampdown. Whether it's the latest strike against rumors, or real name registration, or newly banned keywords, there's always another restriction in the works as the service struggles to keep a lid on sensitive conversations without driving away its user base. "China tightens grip on social media," we might report, as the Financial Times did in April. And last October. (The U.K.-based newspaper also noted China's grip tightening on lawyers in March.) It's not that these headlines are misleading. They simply show how difficult it is to illustrate the grip that always tightens, but never quite suffocates.

Blog   |   China

China ducks questions about Al-Jazeera expulsion

In a press conference today, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesman Hong Lei, above, evaded questions about Al-Jazeera being denied journalist visas. (AP/Andy Wong)

"The Beijing branch of Al-Jazeera is still functioning normally."

This was not an auspicious reaction to the news that Al-Jazeera English has closed its Beijing bureau after being refused journalist visas. Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesman Hong Lei's responses at today's press conference did not improve from there, according to a partial transcript published by Voice of America. His explanations for the ministry's refusal to renew credentials for the channel's Beijing correspondent Melissa Chan were a mixture of denial and obfuscation. (Al-Jazeera's Arabic-language bureau continues to operate with several accredited journalists, according to The Associated Press.)

Blog   |   China, USA

China's media conditions threaten Chen Guangcheng

The battle over blind Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng's freedom and well-being is a battle over information. Both Chinese and U.S. officials are trying to spin the story their way. A few activists and media claim to speak for Chen, and in China's anti-press environment they are putting themselves at risk. Direct interviews with the man himself are hard to come by.

Blog   |   Bangladesh, Belarus, Burma, China, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Iran, Nepal, North Korea

China not most censored, but may be most ambitious

Chinese official Jia Qinglin, fifth from left, hands over keys to the China-built African Union headquarters to AU Chairman and Equatorial Guinea President Theodoro Obiang. (AFP/Tony Karumba)

China didn't make the cut for our 10 most censored countries. While the Chinese Communist Party's censorship apparatus is notorious, journalists and Internet users work hard to overcome the restrictions. Nations like Eritrea and North Korea lack that dynamism.

Blog   |   China

Blind lawyer spurs news blackout in China

News of blind legal activist Chen Guangcheng has been censored for months. International news reports of his escape last week from incarceration in his home in Linyi, Shandong--apparently to U.S. protection, although his whereabouts remain unclear--has only intensified that censorship. That is unlikely to stop discussion among those familiar with Chen's case.

April 30, 2012 4:20 PM ET

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Blog   |   China

Chinese censors target tomatoes amid Bo Xilai scandal

(AP/Muhammed Muheisen)

Chongqing hotpot = King of the Southwest = King Who Pacifies the West = Minister of Yu = Tomato

What do these words have in common? They are all coded references to Bo Xilai, the disgraced former Communist Party leader in southwestern Chongqing, and they were all censored in China on Tuesday, according to the Berkeley-based China Digital Times website. Bo was removed from his post in March, and state media reported Wednesday he had been suspended from the governing Politburo and Party Central Committee. Propaganda officials censored speculation about Bo's downfall and its implications for political stability, so Internet users adopted terms like the ones above to avoid triggering keyword filters. Now these, too, have been blacklisted, according to China Digital Times. Will this senseless battle to hide information ever end?

April 11, 2012 2:42 PM ET

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Blog   |   India

Mumbai police, media have failed Jyotirmoy Dey

The confessed mastermind of the murder of crime reporter Jyotirmoy Dey, whose June 2011 funeral is shown here, remains free. (AP/Rajanish Kakade)

New Delhi-based Tehelka weekly news magazine has published a scathing indictment of the police investigation into the 2011 killing of Mumbai crime reporter Jyotirmoy Dey--and of the Indian media's coverage of it. Beneath the allegations and the rumors, we still don't know exactly why he was killed, while the self-confessed mastermind is a fugitive from justice. Meanwhile, a second journalist has been indicted for the crime on apparently flimsy evidence.  

Blog   |   Philippines

In the Philippines, two murders that should be solved

Journalist Gerardo Ortega's wife looks at his picture. (AFP/Noel Celis)

The investigation into the notorious murder of muckraking Philippine journalist Marlene Garcia-Esperat in Mindanao is now seven years old. A separate hunt for conspirators in the January 2011 killing of Palawan radio journalist Gerardo Ortega is just getting started. The Regional Trial Court in Puerto Princesa City issued arrest warrants against three suspects in the Ortega case on Tuesday, and one has been arrested, according to the local Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility. But both cases should already have been solved. 

Blog   |   China

How to stop rumors in China: Stop censorship

Chongqing party leader Bo Xilai's departure has left journalists with the difficult task of reporting on unconfirmed reports.

The sacking of Chongqing party leader Bo Xilai has sparked some entertaining gossip this month, leaving journalists covering China with the difficult task of reporting on unconfirmed reports. The Chinese government blames the international media, not its own lack of transparency and comprehensive censorship apparatus, for the burgeoning rumors. 

March 27, 2012 2:09 PM ET

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Blog   |   China

As Chinese politician censored, exiled journalist triumphs

A Chinese woman carries a protrait of Bo Xilai, until recently a rising political star with little tolerance for critics. (AFP)

The political ouster of Bo Xilai, Chinese Communist Party top dog in the major southwestern city of Chongqing, has been making headlines around the world. Bo notoriously silenced critics like investigative journalist Jiang Weiping, but the shoe is now on the other foot, at least for a while.

Many China watchers are familiar with Bo because he was in line for a position in the inner circle of Chinese politics, until state media announced his replacement last week. CPJ has reported on Bo for different reasons. Jiang, CPJ's 2001 International Press Freedom Award winner, spent five years behind bars in China, after revealing several corruption scandals involving Bo, a former mayor of Dalian city and then governor of the province, Liaoning, where Jiang worked.

March 19, 2012 3:27 PM ET

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2012

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