It’s called deductive reasoning or forensics, a science used in China almost 1,000 years ago to solve crimes. The first written record of forensic science can be traced back to ancient China in a book written in 1248 titled “Xi Yuan Ji Lu” (translated as Collected Cases of Injustice Rectified) by Song Ci. This book describes the investigation of a person murdered with a sickle (a cutting tool). All suspects were told to bring their sickles to a central location, where it was noticed that flies were attracted to one particular sickle, presumably by the smell of blood; this led to a confession by the owner of that sickle. Source: ConnectedCalifornia.org
Anyway, some time back, I was shopping at Costco and saw a piece in The Economist about China’s secret media. I bought a copy and read it when I got home. One of the major reasons that the Qing Dynasty collapsed in 1911 was because the Manchu leaders were out of touch with what was going on. The royal princes lived behind high walls in a fantasy world of opulent gardens. The young Emperor and the Empress Dowager lived inside the Forbidden City or The Summer Palace—surrounded by eunuchs and ministers who filtered the news.
In Chinese whispers, The Economist reveals the different layers of news in today’s China. The first layer is the cleansed version for the people; then there is the unfiltered news for the country’s leaders. Each layer appears to have less censorship. What this piece reveals is that China’s top leaders want to know what’s going on before anyone else does.
One example would be the SARS outbreak in 2003. According to The Economist, by the time China’s leaders learned about SARS, there had already been 300 cases and 5 deaths. Two days after learning about SARS, China’s leaders told the World Health Organization. Since Xinhua’s reporters and editors do such a great job filtering the news for mass consumption, it seems that China’s top leaders sometimes have to become sleuths using deductive reasoning to discover the missing facts.
Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.
His latest novel is the multiple-award winning Running with the Enemy.
Subscribe to “iLook China”!
Sign up for an E-mail Subscription at the top of this page, or click on the “Following” tab in the WordPress toolbar at the top of the screen.
I wonder when deductive reasoning was first used by police detectives in Europe and the United States.
Whenever people rage against “media” I feel I need to remind them that with all its faults, it’s a free press that is our first line of defense against tyranny. Because surprisingly, most people in the business believe in truth and in times of trouble, remember how to deliver it to the world.
What you say is true. Forgive me for my long response but this is a topic that concerns me greatly.
But … The traditional media isn’t what it once was.
Truth-Out.org in an opinion piece about the consolidation of the media says, “Here at Free Press, we’re concerned as anyone about the future of journalism. We need a system where communities have access to a full range of news and information, where diverse perspectives are part of the national debate, where journalists make a living wage and are protected enough to hold power to account.”
To learn more about the consolidation of the media into a few hands, there’s this piece about the concentration of media ownership at Journawiki: http://journalism.wikia.com/wiki/Media_consolidation
“When a company owns many different types of media businesses, it is referred to as a media conglomerate. The seven current media conglomerates are Disney, CBS, Time Warner, News Corp, Bertelsmann AG, Viacom and General Electric. These companies together own more than 90% of the media market.”
– For the general public, there are less diverse opinions and voices available in the media.
– For minorities and others, fewer opportunities are available for voicing their concerns and reaching the public.
– Healthy, market-based competition is absent, leading to slower innovation and increased prices.
One example: Media Corp, the second largest media empire in the world is controlled by Rupert Murdock a known neoconservative. The Fox Network is part of Media Corp and is known to have a strong conservative bias.
“For example, in 1997, the Fox affiliate in Tampa, Florida fired two reporters and suppressed a story they had produced about one of the Fox network’s major advertisers, Monsanto, concerning the health effects of Bovine Growth Hormone (BGH). Fox took action after Monsanto threatened to sue over the story.” -Journalism.wikia.com
It all started with E. W. Scripps who founded the first national newspaper chain in the United States in the early years of the 20th century. By the mid-1920s, he had a nation-wide string of 28 newspapers.
There’s one more example that makes my point that the free press isn’t as free as it was before the consolidation of the traditional media. William Randolf Hearst used his influence to help Franklin D. Roosevelt win the 1932 Democratic nomination. However he broke with Roosevelt in 1935 because Roosevelt did not want to fund the veterans’ bonus. After that the Hearst chain became the bitter enemy of the New Deal from the right. The other major chains likewise were hostile, and in 1936 Roosevelt had the support of only 10% of the nation’s newspapers (by circulation).
When the media is controlled by a few, the news isn’t as diverse. And manipulating public opinion has become an art. In fact, there are so many lies and misinformation to control public opinion being delivered by the big seven that it has given life to a new industry that checks the truth of hot button issues that the media reports on.
Bu … there is another but … The Internet has created a new form of media that often goes counter to what we are fed from the traditional corporate media that once was diverse and offered a wide array of opinions. But (again) the internet is a wild-wild west and there are so many voices and most of them only spout uneducated opinions that lack many facts, opinions that were influenced by traditional media mostly controlled by the big seven. And this explains why I work hard to find facts from primary courses for a lot of what I write but not always because it is sometimes difficult to find facts from primary sources. Even in China the Internet has introduced another voice that the CCP does not have exclusive control over. Even with the CCP’s Internet censorship, I know people in China who find ways to get around the censors all the time to access news that the CCP would rather block.
And with the Internet we also have access to the international media like the BBC or even Al Jazeera. Then that brings up another but … The U.S. State Department has an office that works to influence the international media. I used to check Al Jazeera for news about China because I found it to be, at least when it reporte don China, without bias. But then Al Jazeera released some stories that the CCP did not think supported the CCP’s interests and it was kicked out of China. Then that brings me to the U.S. State Department that has an office that guards U.S. interests in the media.
“The Office of International Media Engagement (PA/IME) creates and manages State Department mechanisms to ensure accurate coverage of U.S. foreign policy priorities by major international media. The office oversees the State Department’s six Regional Media Hubs which serve as overseas platforms for engagement of foreign audiences via the media — broadcast, print, and internet.”
The use of the word “accurate” is questionable when the truth supported by facts from primary sources might go against US interests [or the interests of one of the seven huge media corps that wouldn’t want to lose advertising revenue from another huge corporation like Monsanto].
Back to the BBC. Recently, a friend sent me a link to a BBC piece on Mao, a story I do not think would ever originate from an America media source or from Murdock’s media empire: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-china-25446026
Then there is the fact that every adult citizen in the U.S. is allowed to vote but only a very small fraction of the whole actually is wide read. I fear that most people rely on one source for their information. For instance, Rush Limbaugh (radically conservative), Fox News (conservative), The New York Times (know to have a liberal/progressive bias and proud of it), Oprah, etc.
Remembering that my husband was one of the last of the Murrow boys, I know how bad it is “out there.” I do take comfort in that, despite everything, there are a great many people who do care, do try to be honest and factual. Rupert Murdock does not yet own the world … and someday, he’ll die. Now there’s something to look forward to, eh?
Agreed. There is always something to look forward to. :o)
But who will take Murdock’s place? The last I heard, he’s getting divorced from his Chinese wife.
Look what happened when the father of the Koch brothers and the father of the Walton kids, who now control Wall-Mart, died?
Those fathers weren’t that political. The kids, who did not earn all that great wealth, are way too political and controlling. Both manipulate public opinion in, what I think, are bad ways.
What is that old saying about “the devil you know”?