Wall Street Journal Chinese denies self-censorship

Earlier today, we broke the news that Reuters Chinese and WSJ Chinese were practicing self-censorship concerning the Hong Kong democracy protests. While we have not yet heard back from Reuters, we have received vehement denial from WSJ Chinese editor Li Yuan and WSJ editor-in-chief Gerard Baker via Twitter.

Li Yuan asked via Twitter whether we at GreatFire.org were aware that WSJ had been blocked in China for four months (the implication being that because the website is already blocked, they have no reason to self-censor). It appears that she did not take the time to read our report at all before commenting.

@niubi If you don't read Chinese, call me to check your facts. ChineseWSJ has been blocked in China for 4 months; @GreatFireChina Do U know?

— Li Yuan (@LiYuan6) September 29, 2014

Here’s the quote from our report which is the second paragraph of the article:

In November 2013, China blocked WSJ Chinese and Reuters Chinese for a few days. The act was meant to intimidate both companies and to warn them that they have to keep their content in line with Beijing. WSJ Chinese was subsequently blocked for good in June 2014 after the site posted multiple news items related to the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square protests on the website’s front page. Reuters Chinese did not post anything related to the June anniversary and remained unblocked.

You may recall that Bloomberg has been accused of curbing articles that might anger China after their site was blocked in China and the company received pressure from the Chinese government over their business operations in the country.

The main purpose of our website GreatFire.org is to test what internet websites are being blocked in China. We automatically test the Great Firewall of China and update a list of blocked websites in real time. We also keep an eye on developments related to censorship in China.

Li Yuan also provided a list of articles about Hong Kong and featured one article covering the protest. That one article was published after our original report. 

@GreatFireChina Please run a correction/clarification or you can retweet my previous tweet with photo. pic.twitter.com/ZzLKKKhZdK

— Li Yuan (@LiYuan6) September 29, 2014

We have updated our original report to reflect this:

Update on Sept 29, 8:30 AM Hong Kong time:

After we published our article which was widely reposted, Wall Street Jounal Chinese posted itsfirst news covering the actual protest, dated September 29 at 7:54AM Hong Kong time. Because WSJ Chinese published the "news" about 24 hours* after the start of the protest and its first English language report, we believe that WSJ Chinese is trying to save its image after being publicly called out for self-censorship. Still, we welcome the change. At least WSJ Chinese readers now know about the protest in Hong Kong - better late than never.  In comparison, Reuters Chinese has not posted any news covering the protest even now.

*SCMP started to live report the protest on September 28 at 8AM. WSJ's report in English was dated September 28 at 6:08AM. (Hong Kong time).

The remaining stories that Li referenced do not actually cover the protest itself. For example, the first article on the list is dated September 9th and is titled “Occupy Central planned for October”.

Gerard Baker, editor-in-chief of WSJ (Not WSJ Chinese) also tweeted about our accusations.

@JamesFallows @iandenisjohnson Oh I see! That justifies the two of you taking to Twitter to so casually impugn our integrity, doesn't it?

— Gerard Baker (@gerardtbaker) September 29, 2014

@JamesFallows @iandenisjohnson Rather than, say, checking to see whether, just for example, our website has actually been blocked in China?

— Gerard Baker (@gerardtbaker) September 29, 2014

Again, we believe that we are experts when it comes to the Great Firewall of China. In fact, WSJ itself has regularly quoted us as an anti-censorship activist group in China. Baker should also at least read our original report before denying it.

Some users and internal WSJ staff have suspected that a shortage of staff on a Sunday before a holiday might be the cause of delaying translation. The time gap between the English article, attributed to ISABELLA STEGER, PRUDENCE HO and CHESTER YUNG, and the Chinese article, attributed to the same reporters, is 25 hours and 46 minutes. This time delay might be reasonable for average stories but for news that grabbed headlines around the world, on virtually every media outlet, this delay is simply unbelievable.

In addition, in the past, when WSJ Chinese has been translating important news, they usually post a short blurb together with the comment “detailed report will follow”. We have provided an example below. According to Google, there are 83,500 incidences where WSJ Chinese has posted the translation of the title of the story and posted content in a separate article when the translation is complete. Is this story really not more important that 83,500 others?

trans.png

We want WSJ Chinese to explain why it takes more than 25 hours to translate a sentence into Chinese or give any other reason why a report is being delayed despite the fact that it is the most important news item of the day.

WSJ Chinese has publicly denounced self-censorship and we applaud their stance on the matter. But we also hope that their actions echo their sentiment - in this case, they do not. Reuters China has remained silent on the self-censorship issue, which is self-censorship in itself.

Reuters China posted its first report about the Hong Kong protest on Monday, September 29 at 11:30am, 30 hours later than WSJ English’s first report.

Even so, we welcome the addition of this Chinese language content. We’ve again reached out to both media publications to hear their side of the story. If this is truly an issue about being understaffed, then this raises serious questions about the management of these two news organizations. Your peers all published timely stories about the Hong Kong protests in Chinese. Advertisers will likely notice - they know that breaking news drives eyeballs.

We also know that journalists are under enormous amounts of stress and we respect the fact that both WSJ and Reuters have reporters on the ground, putting themselves in danger to report this story. But why make such an effort if the fruits of that labor become evident more than 24 hours after the event for the audience that deserves to hear this story the most? Here's hoping that your best Chinese language coverage of the Hong Kong protests is yet to come.

Very proud of my colleague Tyrone Siu who took this amazing photo of HK protesters being tear gassed on Sunday. pic.twitter.com/jUGkGfAeww

— Venus Wu (@wu_venus) September 29, 2014

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Thu, Nov 30, 2017

About those 674 apps that Apple censored in China

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Tue, May 23, 2017

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Last week Twitter came under attack from a DDoS attack orchestrated by the Chinese authorities. While such attacks are not uncommon for websites like Twitter, this one proved unusual. While the Chinese authorities use the Great Firewall to block harmful content from reaching its citizens, it now uses DDoS attacks to take down content that appears on websites beyond its borders. For the Chinese authorities, it is not simply good enough to “protect” the interests of Chinese citizens at home - in their view of cyber sovereignty, any content that might harm China’s interests must be removed, regardless of where the website is located.

And so last week the Chinese authorities determined that Twitter was the target. In particular, the authorities targeted the Twitter account for Guo Wengui (https://twitter.com/KwokMiles), the rebel billionaire who is slowly leaking information about corrupt Chinese government officials via his Twitter account and through his YouTube videos. Guo appeared to ramp up his whistle-blowing efforts last week and the Chinese authorities, in turn, ramped up theirs.

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Mon, Dec 12, 2016

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It’s been three years since Eric Schmidt proclaimed that Google would chart a course to ending online censorship within ten years. Now is a great time to check on Google’s progress, reassess the landscape, benchmark Google’s efforts against others who share the same goal, postulate on the China strategy and offer suggestions on how they might effectively move forward.

flowers on google china plaque

Flowers left outside Google China’s headquarters after its announcement it might leave the country in 2010. Photo: Wikicommons.

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Google has started to develop two main tools which they believe can help in the fight against censorship. Jigsaw’s DDoS protection service, Project Shield, is effectively preventing censorship-inspired DDoS attacks and recently helped to repel an attack on Brian Krebs’ blog. The service is similar to other anti-DDoS services developed by internet freedom champions and for-profit services like Cloudflare.

Thu, Nov 24, 2016

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Tue, Jul 05, 2016

GreatFire.org 现在开始测试VPN在中国的速度和稳定性

在中国有一个普遍观念,如果你有一个可以使用的VPN,那么你应该保持沉默。就信息自由而言,这种观念的问题在于获取知识竟成了一种秘密。今天,我们推出一个项目,希望能够摧毁这种模型。

我们最新的网站,翻墙中心,目的在于实时提供那些能够在中国使用的翻墙方案的信息和数据。在2011年以来我们就已经开始收集在中国被屏蔽的网站,现在我们也将增加那些可用的VPN和其他翻墙工具。

我们发布翻墙中心主要有四个目的。

我们的首要目标是助长使用翻墙工具的国人的数量。通过分享我们这些工具的信息和数据,我们希望对更广泛的受众展示那些工具时可以使用的。

我们的第二个目标是通过带来工具性能的透明化来提升中国用户的翻墙体验。我们将会测试工具的速度(流行网站的加载速度)和稳定性(流行网站加载成功的程度)。

我们开发速度测试的目的是要真实反映用户的体验。当用户在网站测速时,浏览器在后台会从10个世界上最流行的网站上下载一些资源文件。根据Alexa排名,这些网站分别是Google, Facebook, YouTube, Baidu, Amazon, Yahoo, Wikipedia, QQ, Twitter and Microsoft Live。速度的结果是简单的计算下载文件文件的大小和下载所需的时间。我们同样也会验证下载的文件是否完整。如果文件的内容是错误的或者在40秒内无法完成下载,我们会标记为失败。这个数据被我们用来生成另一个重要指标-稳定性。

其他的速度测试工具仅仅是通过发送数据到它们自己的服务器来测量上传和下载的速度。这种数据无法反应用户的体验,因为正常的浏览器通常会频繁的发送一系列的请求(而不是上传或下载一个大文件)到许多的服务器,而不止是一个。

我们的第二个指标 - 稳定性 - 是其他的服务通常不会测试的。一个健康的互联网连接应该达到100%的稳定性,除非有人在测试中把网线拔了。但是在中国使用翻墙工具却不是这样。任何时候连接都有可能变得不稳定或十分缓慢。根据请求的大小,最终的地点和代理的方式,一些请求有可能会失败。比较服务的稳定性要比比较速度更加重要。

你可以测试任意的翻墙工具,列表之外的也可以。中国的VPN用户也可以测试他们的工具,测试结果也会添加到数据库中。这些数据都将会对所有人开放。实时的在中国测试是非常重要的,因为VPN随时都可能被封锁或解封。我们欢迎任何的关于测试过程的反馈。有技术能力的用户也可以通过审查我们的javascript代码来获悉我们的测试是如何工作的。

我们郑重的邀请翻墙工具的开发者们向我们提供测试过程的反馈。我们的第三个目标是帮助这些开发人员改进他们的产品,让更多的选择适用于中国的顾客。此外,越多的工具可以工作,就意味着中国当局对翻墙的打击就会越难。

中国的用户都知道,在过去的18个月中当局加紧了对翻墙工具的攻击。而翻墙中心将会吹响反击的号角。反其道而行之,让这不再成为秘密。我们要鼓励人们分享翻墙工具可以工作的信息。

我们的第四个目标就是要为GreatFire.org创造收益。目前GreatFire仍然依靠世界各地的热心人士和组织的捐款。我们希望减少对这些机构的依赖,并探寻GreatFire.org自给自足的道路。用户只需到翻墙中心就能购买任意一款我们目前在测试的付费工具。GreatFire将作为这些工具在中国的经销商,因此VPN供应商会给予我们每个零售的一部分。用户也不必在中国购买这些翻墙服务。

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