Faces behind posters

I consider those who live in Macau and Hong Kong as fortunate because they can enjoy the virtues of the so-called “second system” set up after the region’s administrations returned to China. And what are those advantages? If they could be summed up in one word, it would be “freedom.” Freedom of the press and a legal system where the judiciary is independent from the executive are prone to create societies where ideas can flourish and a business environment where merit is rewarded and even protected by the rule of law.
Some university students in Macau can envisage this quite clearly and decided to express solidarity for Guangzhou’s newspaper Southern Weekly over a propaganda official’s heavy-handed rewriting of a New Year’s editorial. The editorial called for better constitutional governance and was changed to include praise for the party. The journalists thought that the censorship prior to publication went too far, completely changing the meaning of what was meant to be said (an example of George Orwell’s “newspeak” language, according to which the “Ministry of Peace” took care of warfare and the “Ministry of Truth” oversaw propaganda and revisionism) and vented their protest on the streets. They were joined by other protesters, intellectuals and university students. All called for free expression and political reform.
What happens in Guangzhou, just a short trip away, must not leave Macau indifferent. Thus a group of Macau journalists held a demonstration in the city center’s Senado Square, students and the New Macau Association issued an open letter to the 12 Macau deputies to the Chinese National Congress (NPC) to urge them to support the Southern Weekly. Students of the University of Macau’s mass communication department also launched a campaign in support of the magazine.

Seeing the campaign’s posters it struck me that some of the students preferred not to show their faces. I don’t know if they feared some kind of retaliation, but the fact that they don’t show their faces reveals that the censors have already made their impression. Returning to Orwell and to the brilliant “1984”, it all starts with big brother preventing the infamous “thoughtcrime.” And so we have journalism students that opt for not disclosing their identities even when advocating the basic principle of freedom of the press. What kind of journalists would they be?
I have been studying and practicing journalism for over 20 years. It’s my passion and if I could offer some advice to these students I would tell them that journalism is a daily fight for a society that’s more open and accountable, protecting individual rights and democracy. It’s a quest to find “the best available version of the truth” (in Bob Woodward’s definition.) And that if they want to be journalists they should be brave and join this never-ending fight. Without press freedom, journalism is almost impossible; of course there are degrees of allowed criticism (the North Korean TV “reports” are not comparable with “lighter” censorships) and there are able readers who can “read between the lines” (This was a slogan of a Portuguese weekly during the dictatorship; they used it to fill spaces of texts that had been cut by the political police).
Without press freedom, the journalist easily becomes a microphone stand. Concerning political issues, that’s what I see when I read translations of Chinese newspapers. Journalists write what they are told and they don’t question. Even in Macau there are many microphone stands… That isn’t journalism, it is official propaganda disguised as “facts.”
I close quoting one of my favorite journalism books (“The Universal Journalist”) where David Randall argues that there’s only two types of journalism: the good and the bad: “The bad is practiced by those who rush faster to judgment than they do to find out, indulge themselves rather than the reader, write between the lines rather than on them, write and think in the dead terms of the formula, stereotype and cliché, regard accuracy as a bonus and exaggerations as a tool and prefer vagueness to precision. The good is intelligent, entertaining, reliably informative, properly set in context, honest in intent and effect, expressed in fresh language and serves no cause but the discernible truth. Whatever the audience. Whatever the language. Whatever the culture. Whatever the circumstances. Such journalism could be printed in any publication, because it is, in every sense of the word, universal.”

(Originally published in MDT)



Pensamento do dia

«O poeta é o sacerdote possível» 

Tolentino Mendonça


AH pois é...



O meu capitão e eu bem que gostamos disto. Kung Hei Fat Choi! 



ORA bem



BUKOWSKI, "kindhearted" and jealous



Construction works at Hac Sa public swiming pool

É isto!


Em Macau: Em Lisboa:
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