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China: Can Paper Wrap the Fire?

Last night CCTV's new building's extension caught fire because of nearby fireworks celebrating the Chinese Lantern Festival (元宵). Blogger Anlei recorded the whole process with a series of photos. Even though the fire is an accident, the propaganda department still decided to harmonize / censor the news. A notice has been given to major portal websites (via twitter):

各网:“中央电视台新大楼北配楼发生火灾”相关报道,请各网站只用新华社通稿,不发图片、视频,不作深度报道;只放国内新闻区,关闭跟帖,自然滚动,论坛博客不置顶,不推荐。

To all websites: Report related to the Fire in the CCTV new building, please only use Xinhua news report. No photo, no video clip, no in-depth report; the news should be put on news area only, close the comment posts, don't top the forum blogpost, don't recommend posts related with the subject.

Can such measure stop people from talking about the fire? Wang Xiaofeng puts it rhetorically: Can paper wrap the fire?

新央视办公楼附楼在元宵节晚上因为燃放焰火不慎起火,目击者最先通过手机短信将消息传出去,然后是网站,通过各种方式将消息发布出去。很多门户网站以最快速度做成专题。但时间不长,这些专题都被撤掉了。很显然,用裤衩思考都知道这些网站接到了主管部门的命令,对于这类重大新闻事件,要以新华社的消息为主,不能乱报道。新华社记者都在过节,好像当时没有在场等待起火的记者吧?如果这有这样的记者,该把这个记者抓起来问问是不是同谋。即便新华社记者恰好在场,他还要核实消息的真实性,然后把稿子写完,交给领导审查,领导对于这类重大新闻事件估计还做不了主,还要报上级领导批示,等上级领导批示完了,全世界都知道了。

The new extension of CCTV building caught fire by accident on the Chinese Lantern festival. Eyewitnesses quickly spread the news via mobile phone sms, the websites followed up the news and disseminated the information. Many portal sites have created special feature pages on the incident. However, very soon, all these features were removed. This is very obvious, even your brain is thinking through CCTV, all these websites have received the order from internet management sector. For breaking news, all information has to be based on Xinhua's news, they can't do their news report. However, Xinhua's reporters are having their holiday, no one was expecting the fire on the spot. If such reporter existed, probably s/he had to be interrogated for the incident. Even if there were Xinhua reporters there, s/he has to confirm the news and finish the report in the office, then hand it to their supervisor for approval. For this kind of big news incident, probably their direct supervisor cannot make the decision and has to refer to upper rank official. Finally, before there is a final approval, the whole world knows about the event.

这里大概有个尺度问题,比如火灾的程度,是严重还是轻微,报道口径问题,比如有关领导是否到场,领导在现场说了什么话,要体现出来,中国的重大新闻报道里缺少领导怎么能成为新闻呢?领导一定比火还要火才行。所以说,要以新华社为主,你就是在楼下目睹了全部着火过程,你就是亲自点的火,你报道出来都不真实。都火烧眉毛了,还遮遮掩掩。

The issue at stake is the tone in the report: how much damages the fire caused? light or serious. Whether the reports are consistent, such as whether the leaders have arrived on the scene and what have they said? In breaking news like this, news cannot be ready without the appearance of leaders. The leaders have to be hotter than the fire. That's why Xinhua has to be the main source of information. Even if you have seen though the process, or even you have lighted the fire yourself, your report cannot be real. Even the fire is burning up to your eyebrow, it has to be covered up.

这不是一个垄断媒体的时代了,每个人手上都有手机、照相机、笔记本电脑,可以随时上网,发布新闻的渠道已经不是唯一了。这也挺难为新华社了,也难为媒体主管部门了,这种纸里包不住火的事情,该怎么处理啊?我都替他们发愁。

We are no longer in a time when media is monopolized by a few. Everyone of us has mobile phones, cameras, computers and we can go online whenever we like. There are many ways for distributing news. This puts Xinhua and media control department in a very difficult position. How can you handle incident when the paper cannot wrap up the fire? I feel sad for them.

最要命的是,着火的地方恰恰是外媒、使馆集中的地区,这些外国记者估计只要在办公室把摄像机架起来就可以现场直播了,连出门都免了,百分百的现场直播。而我们着火单位主频道此时还在欢度元宵节,另一个新闻频道也是在一个小时后才有横飞字幕,看来真是火烧眉毛都不着急。佩服佩服。还好,这栋楼还没有投入使用,人员伤亡几率比较低,但他妈的那也是那钱造出来的,怎么就那么沉着呢?难道只有把大裤衩烧成了红烧鸡巴你才觉得疼吗?

To make the case even worse, the fire spot is in an area where foreign media and consulate settled. All they need was to set the camera in their office building for a live broadcast. They didn't even need to walk out from their door and they could have a live report. However, our main TV channel was having the festival show. The other news channel only report on the news via its screen subtitles after one hour. They didn't feel the urgency in reporting the news even though the fire was up to their eyebrow. This is really something. Fortunately, no one has moved in the building yet, and the number of injuries is low. Even so, the building costs a lot of money, how can they repress the news? Do we have to wait till the main building, the Big Pants, to catch on fire and burn your dick, then you can feel the pain?

在这次突发事件中,中国所有官方媒体都输给了民间媒体。

In this breaking news incident, all official media have been defeated by citizen media.

Below are some citizen video clip on the incident from youtube:

More on the CCTV fire:

CCTV on fire Sun Bin
Beijing CCTV Building On Fire, News Censored ChinaSMACK
Mandarin Oriental Fire Photos from Sina (before they get harmonized) Elliott Ng, CN Reviews
CCTV Fire Photos – Twitter breaks the news again David Feng, CN Reviews
Reporting on the CCTV complex fire Joel Martinsen, DANWEI

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