Friday, July 27, 2007

Ensuring Good Coverage

I'd read stories when poorly-paid journalists go to press conferences or events and are given hong bao, or "a red envelope" with some cash in it as an incentive to get a story or two out of them.

The public relations people or organizers tell the reporters that the money is to pay for their transportation or meals, a monetary "sorry to take up your time, but here's a little souvenir..." token.

Apparently this is very common practice in China.

And it's very hard to give the hong bao back, as it can be seen as rude to refuse a gift. The people giving out the envelopes really urge the journalists to take the money and it's only after some persistence on the reporter's end that they may give up and take back the monetary gift.

When journalists only make around 3,000-5,000RMB (US$397-$661) a month, the temptation is too great.

Fair reporting can only begin when they are paid a decent wage. Until then, anyone who consumes Chinese media may want to think twice about what they're reading, hearing and seeing.

1 comment:

ks said...

agree in principle. but in real practice it is inevitable. even in the west there are perks such as free food and drinks, samples, souvenirs etc coming with news conferences. it is up to the individual's conscience to make honest unbiased reporting. a good salary will certainly help that happen.