Speaking up about the coronavirus – but at what cost? | The Listening Post (Full)
Chinese doctor who sounded the alarm hello I'm Richard gisbert and you're at the
postamong the media stories that were covering this week transparency the managed kind Beijing --za proach to controlling the narrative on the
coronavirusremains a work in progress and trying to keep fear of the pandemic contained in places like Germany they're loud they can bully they call themselves nationalists and they are some of India's most watched news actors plus the duterte government in Manila having gone after news websites it doesn't like now targeting the country's biggest broadcaster two weeks ago when we first examined the official Chinese response to the corona virus outbreak Beijing was in damage control mode the government had been slow to respond its media outlets had downplayed the seriousness of the threat and lives were lost as a result one of those deaths a doctor in the frontline city of Wuhan has caused collective outrage online Li wen Liang was amongst the first to raise the alarm he was then taken into custody and forced to confess to wrongdoing rumor-mongering for doing his job essentially it is rare for the Chinese to openly criticize their government rarer still when those criticisms on social media are not instantly deleted by censors however for a brief period of time that's
whatwas happening online for Chinese journalists there was a temporary window that opened for some hard-hitting investigative reporting it appears that...
window has closed again the term that China watchers are now using to describe Beijing's approach to the
coronavirusstory is inherently oxymoronic they call it managed transparency our starting point this week is Ground Zero the city of whoo-hah of all the casualties of this
coronavirusnone has made more news in China than dr. Lee when the Aang on December 30th Lee used a closed messaging group to tell colleagues of the seriousness of the strain he said he did not intend the message to be shared which it was he was then taken into custody and forced to apologize for spreading rumors Lee contracted the virus succumbing On February 7th and unleashing a wave of fury online the likes of which the Chinese authorities a seldom see or tolerate loads of China watchers putting myself we would never see this coming we already know that the public was angry about the handling of the virus and probably about the covering up of facts but we wouldn't expect this kind of outpouring of anger towards the government she emerged online people remarked
fully they also
posted something like eyewall freedom speech on Weibo China's equivalent of Twitter and then that hashtag was the huge more than 1.8 million times before you got deleted when there are so many people feel so strongly about his death it won't be wise for the authorities to really just like vlog all the comments they leave early on even the person to shoot for membership at the state media did you report on his...
death but the language they used are mostly focusing now you know we have so much respect for this doctor for
whathe did as a doctor not not for
whathe did as a whistleblower Darian geometry attention the occasion that sushi suka Romulan hundreds I can't eat each other chin chin one wonder why they are focusing on one part they want people to focus on about dr. Liang Liang but not really on the part that people care about mostly about the freedom of speech citizens have taken the
coronavirusstory into their own hands and devices is the biggest single change since the SARS
coronavirusstory of 2003 the Chinese had internet access back then but social media was not anything like the news source it is today Chen Qi or she a lawyer turned blogger has documented the hospital's overloaded with patients Fang Ben who's in the clothing business
posted images of body bags destined for the crematorium and then had his phone camera rolling when the authorities came calling are now assumed to be in custody but there are another 50 million people under quarantine and they have a lot of time to tell their stories the social media role in covering this crisis has been truly unprecedented it's been the first epidemic the first major disease in China that's been truly televised so whether you're stuck at home alone in Wuhan not seeing any relatives or not being able to buy groceries if your doctor fighting this disease in hospital that's overcrowded or if your...
patient who's struggling to get into the hospital we're seeing the stories through social media anybody who's far away from Wuhan including international observers have been able to witness and even feel
whatit's like to be part of this epidemic that's something that I think is truly moving it's emotional but it also puts a lot of pressure on state authorities at the local and central level to react to beat this disease and to bring people together it also exposes the country's primary news channels which for weeks were providing far less information than social media was domestic news outlets especially national channels and newspapers have been state-controlled ever since the Communists took power more than 70 years ago there have been some temporary openings for more adventurous reporting most recently during the time of the Beijing Olympics in 2008 those freedoms were already dissipating by 2012 when she Jinping took power by 2016 the president was touring media outlets demanding in his words their absolute loyalty to the party in thought politics and action on the coverage of the
whatthe president got new Shin hosts an opinion program at the state-funded channel CG Tien there's a fundamental premise that's wrong with this question saying that the state media might have a different agenda in not reporting the truth of the story basically when CCTV the statement in your words interviewed one of the utmost experts in...
China on fighting the virus on the 20th of January and mr. donation to people - India that is when the public was alerted to the potential scale to potential severity of this epidemic so I don't think it is anywhere in the state media that was suppressing the severity of the situation but the interview emotion refers to on January 20th came more than three weeks after dr. Lee wen Liang had put the word out it was old news there has been some first-rate journalism produced by Chinese news outlets just not on national television and not for long that size Shin Media Group specializes in periodicals and online content The Economist magazine has called size ship the rarest of things in China a courageous media outlet pursuing the truth in the face of intimidation they produce probably the best coverage about
coronavirusso far so they had this like four parts coverage about the virus and it reveals how the verse unfolded in Wuhan and how the government probably has covered up some of the facts about the barriers and delayed the reporting of the barriers leading to the public crisis which they know and that was quite remarkable to do such heightened coverage because usually they would be subject to heavy censorship but the freedom size Shin had to do that reporting would prove temporary by early February the window for most of that kind of journalism had slammed shut the Chinese media have since shifted their focus to the positive side of the story doctors officials and aid...
workers all described in heroic terms the standard for that kind of messaging the emphasis on the collective response over the search for accountability is set by state control channels like cg tian and CCTV almost every reports few open chinese news portals you'll see it's mostly positive reports celebrating the heroes of the virus the medical professionals the officials were fighting it the public itself common media forget Yong Yong here we are you know together and every Chinese person has to fight and we're there for the nation and of course president Sikh himself has appeared in a limelight of the media for the first time since the outbreak of the crisis we visited a local residential area in Beijing he was he was wearing a mask and he was talking to the local people and people were responding very actively in high spirit I would say that piece of video I noticed was watched almost 15 million times and got over 200,000 thumbs up so I think people in general responded well to his message that he is there you know with the people being with the masses and showing his leadership Xi Jinping went to this hospital in Beijing and he video chatted with doctors from Han but one thing we have to note is that Xi Jinping has never sent a food in Wuhan so far but
whatwe really want is to really know
whatthe central government has in plan to really cure the disease to really address the issue to really responds to people's demands for freedom of speech but I think...
those core questions they probably will never get answered we're discussing another media story that's come across our radar this week with Maree arrests a Filipina journalist who runs one of the country's most popular news websites rapper maria thanks for joining us here at the
posttoday it's always nice to see you this past week the Solicitor General in Manila moved to shut down the country's leading broadcast news outlet abs-cbn which like your rap ler has been a vocal critic of president Duterte so-called war on drugs can you walk us through the case that the prosecutors are making against abs-cbn all right here the the basis of it the office of the Solicitor General says that that there's this obscure legal term quo warranto that they should never have been given a franchise in the first place because of violations because they charged for television and then the second one is because they have something similar to
whatrapper has Philippine Depositary Receipts that allow foreign control both of those have been taken up in different ways and have been shown by legal experts to be flawed can you give us a little more detail on these PDRs because I know a lot of people who from outside the Philippines find them a little bit confounded so media in the Philippines has to be 100% Filipino owned but to deal with this because it's not just media other companies like telecommunications infrastructure they have foreign ownership restrictions...
to be able to have foreign investors a vehicle called PDRs Philippine Depositary Receipts was created and is constitutionally recognized a PBR does not give ownership over a share it doesn't give a vote it doesn't give any kind of control
whatit does do is a foreign investor can come in and have economic returns you beat the case one reason for that was that your foreign investor Pierre Omidyar divested himself of the shares and I understand donated his shares to Filipino charities do you see any kind of possibility that abs-cbn could end up with a similar outcome approach I think we have to hold the line PD ours are legal in fact in our court of appeals case the Court of Appeals said they are legal that's not how you beat the case is it we haven't beaten the case yet in 2018 I had 11 cases and investigations against me and rattler in 2019 I had to
postbail eight times to be free so these these cases are still ongoing we did not get around it by having Pierre Omidyar donate this is something that that they did because they wanted to remove in their mind remove it they did this independently of rap ler but I continue to challenges this is a point of law so Duterte starts with the media but you told me that you're seeing signs that this government is now going further looking at other institutions and trying to perhaps capture some of them is is it any coincidence that he started with the media not at all you go back to the 1970s and then you go back again...
to 1986 any time someone wants to take control of government the first step is to control the media that's the first step of Ferdinand Marcos in 1972 he shut down abs-cbn and controlled it took it over in 1986 the people power revolt that that got rid of Markos right the first step was to take over the television networks this is the 21st century version of that but
what's so interesting is you don't even have to declare martial law to try to control media you have you hang a Damocles sword over owners their families you threaten them with legal cases and you can control them this way Maria Rosa thanks for talking to us again today best of luck with your case Thanks India's news landscape is unique the country has almost 400 news channels broadcasting 24/7 in 22 official languages over the past decade Indians of witnessed the rise of a new breed of news anchor brash aggressive unapologetically nationalistic they trade in conflict fear and spectacle it's a formula that tends to pay off in the ratings and online a prime practitioner of this new style is Arnab Goswami of Republic TV the Swami has an enormous following particularly among supporters of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's BJP government and he has plenty of critics who call his coverage of issues pertaining to Indian Muslims partisan and divisive they say that he's abandoned journalism altogether the
posts Meenakshi Ravi now on a broadcaster who courts controversy and has pioneered...
an aggressive high decibel brand of nationalistic news coverage in India Goswami is rarely silent when there's a camera around in the daily cacophony that bombards the Indian airwaves Goswami is among the loudest most controversial voices so it was something of an exclusive when late last month an Indian comedian Kunal Camera tweeted a video of Arnab Goswami being uncharacteristically quiet camera had caught Goswami on a flight their interaction was not pleasant the seatbelt signs are switched off so I was like now is the time I should go and confront him or talk to him or try and have a conversation with him I tapped him and I said iron up would you like to talk to me he said I'm gonna call I'm gonna call him and then he said he doesn't want to talk to me he doesn't want to engage with me and then I said but why we are the sort of people you should engage with and then I said I will do exactly
whathis reporters do to others I see and I shot that video for which I am not sorry at all because he totally totally totally deserves it confronting someone in midair sticking a camera in their face peppering them with questions is unconventional and bordering on rude Goswami had reason to be aggrieved except this is a tactic his own reporters use let's play the interview of Deepti with the just feet how was a meter this is not a right place to talk
whatKunal managed to do with that one act and I would call it a performance rather is to bring our attention...
back to how utterly ugly it is I'm not saying it wasn't unpleasant but it was a democratic act he was simply doing
whatArnab Goswami does day in and day out if it made even ten people think in question how we have normalized this and I think he's done a good job when unab does his primetime show he does scream he does heckle his panelists so perhaps this time around it was you know tasting his own medicine I worked closely with enough for last several years and thank
fully he hasn't screamed at me Goswami is the face of Republic TV a channel in which he holds a majority stake his co-owner is a parliamentarian and a member of India's ruling party the right wing BJP the channel was launched three years into the Modi government's first term in 2017 when Goswami told his audience
whatit would be getting I am a nationalist and I want to say today that I believe that being a nationalist is a prerequisite to being a journalist Goswami wraps himself in the flag whether he's covering Pakistan the Indian Army and any story involving Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the prime minister who hardly gives interviews and never holds press conferences has sat down with Goswami for a one-on-one and Modi has also attended the annual events hosted by the channel the so called Republic summits the publican Goswami are as unapologetic in their support of Modi as Fox News in the u.s. is for its backing of Donald Trump the relationship however goes back further than...
that for 10 years up until 2016 Goswami was the editor-in-chief of another channel x now where he honed his act into
whatit is today Arnab Goswami really burst onto the scene during the 2008 Mumbai terror attack I remember watching him back then when I was a journalism student this was completely new for India back then carnauba sama kind of took on that space of the aggressive Fox News which kind of anchor and from there on he very success
fully tapped the middle-class rage or anger against politicians against corruption Republic TV is referred to as the Fox Network of India but there is a large chunk of population in India that loved to watch a Republic TV and Arnab Goswami so are we going to attack the entire population of watching yes there have been instances that I said where the reportage has been problematic at this moment we see a trend unfortunately in India where the media just goes berserk we need to take a call and see if we need to take a backseat and just report just report and that's
whatwe are here to do we requested an interview with Arnab Goswami for this report we were told neither he nor anyone at Republic would engage with the foreign media and their quote lopsided approach that response is consistent with Goswami's frequent on-air critiques of media outlets both in India and abroad for their reporting on Indian issues that he dismisses as wrongheaded and weak Goswami issues those judgments from his anchor desk where he beats panelists and...
pedals hashtags that range from the provocative to the incendiary in the Indian media landscape where TV is self regulated holding Republic or any channel to account is near impossible in fact last year when the national broadcasting Standards Association a group comprised of representatives from Indian channels issued an edict that Republic air an apology for an ethics violation the channel didn't just dismiss the order it spearheaded the formation of a new self regulatory body the news broadcasters Federation the president of the Federation is Arnab Goswami Goswami's high decibel aggressive style has inspired many others from Rahul Srivastava and Novica Kumar on times now to Amish live gun of news 18 and Ruby Kali occurred on a channel called a BP I think
whathe's normalized is propaganda masquerading as journalism seemed that he is saying on prime-time is also then circulated on
whatsapp it circulated on social media etc and there is a section of the public that is only receiving that and and obviously I mean to some extent you can't blame them for believing that there must be some truth to it if not the whole truth I think
what's worrying with people like Arnab Goswami is that he can go on a news channel and tarnish people as anti nationalism the despicable words and the anti national conduct of people like in our mana be on the right see things like we don't need to care about human rights and Kashmir or just brand people as terrorists get out of...
my car you know where we don't have democratic institutions that are going to rein in such misinformation and such hateful propaganda and when you don't have that you essentially have journalists like this who can really color people's perception in spread mass propaganda with politics and media increasingly polarized around the world : has become the norm TV hosts do it on the air people do it to each other online and an Indian comedian felt it was the only way to take on a news anchor the consequences of trolling aren't felt equally though for canal camera the pushback to his ambush of Goswami was led by the country's minister of aviation his tweet commending one Indian airline for putting camera on a six-month no-fly list resulted in three other Airlines following suit for camerado the focus of the entire incident remains Arnab Goswami all I know is there any watch this man he puts a good theater show up so he soaks you in and he entertains you very well and he polarizers you and that polarization is leaving the TV sets and it's going to the streets should realize