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Chinese media put on notice after false start   2012-08-03 09:47:00

A micro-blog photo of a notice asking Chinese journalists to respect the privacy of those working at the London Media Center for the Olympic Games has been a hot topic of debate recently.

The notice, written in Chinese, reads: "To our Chinese journalist friends, please give consideration to the staff of the LMC. If you would like to film them or take their photos, please ask them beforehand and respect their personal space. Thank you!"

There are 8,000 journalists working at the LMC and only about 800 of them are from China. Some Internet users have commented that the fact that the notice was deliberately written in Chinese is an obvious example of discrimination against Chinese, and they criticized the UK officials for their arrogance and lack of respect.

Other Internet users, however, expressed their disappointment that journalists from China had filmed or taken photos of people without first obtaining their permission. They argued that Chinese journalists should heed the polite warning and follow the regulations of the LMC.

Another viewpoint expressed online was that the conflict is due to cultural differences and, therefore, Chinese journalists should behave in accordance with local customs and norms and "do as the Londoners do."

The notice has subsequently been taken down and LMC director Mark Howell has apologized to those Chinese journalists who were offended by the notice. However, it is worth examining the rationale behind posting the notice in Chinese. Director Howell explained that the notice was to remind all journalists of their responsibilities and the necessary codes of behavior. He added that the notice was written in Chinese because there were few Olympic volunteers who could speak Chinese and the notice was, therefore, the only way to convey the message to the Chinese journalists. . This rationale makes a certain amount of sense. However, on closer examination, it raises more questions. There are about 4,000 foreign journalists working at the LMC; is it only the Chinese journalists among them who cannot speak English? If not, why did the LMC not post notices in other languages?

In order to come to a better understanding of the issue, we need to look at the cultural background. Compared with Chinese people, the British attach great importance to privacy and personal space and the idea of being filmed or photographed without permission is anathema to them, and it because of this that some journalists have caused consternation. Different national characters shaped by different cultures have caused this conflict of views and concepts. Despite the fact that the blame seemed to be leveled entirely at the Chinese journalists, we should not allow ourselves to become consumed by a sense of outrage. Instead, we should treat the whole thing as a learning experience.

To use a football analogy, the Chinese media team has been given a yellow card at the beginning of the game. Although the yellow card was withdrawn after complaints were made, we still need to rethink our performance and discuss what we should do in future.

Domestic media should establish a system of self-regulation in order to reach consensus on professional manners. Players can boycott matches if someone breaks the rules. It is only possible for a game to flow if every player plays by the rules. Meanwhile, regulators should act as referees, sending off those who transgress.

The London Olympic Games is a good opportunity for us to present the image of Chinese journalists. Despite our early yellow card, it is not late for us to prove ourselves. No pain, no gain. We may yet bask in the warm applause of the global audience before the start of the next match.


source :     editor:: Diana
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