China: Photojournalist Fired for “Political Incident”

Wang Lili, a 52-year old photojournalist, received his pink slip from Tongzhou Newsletter where he had been working more than 3 years and the only reason for the dismissal was an incomprehensible “political incident” that in one of his picture reports for the local People's Congress, the warden of Beijing Tongzhou District “bowed the head with closed eyes, presenting an off-colored image”, Southern Metropolis Weekly Reported last Friday. The problem photo taken by Wang was concluded as a picture report which biased its readers against the government, exerting extremely bad political influence.

The Report on Wang Lili's inexplicable misfortune was abundantly reproduced and linked to in Chinese blogosphere. Although some of the portal sites had deleted the relevant news, the story sill quickly became a hot topic in all sorts of BBS and online communities.

Blogger Marcher, a guy living in Tongzhou District, showed his opinions on Wang Lili's cause which just occurred around himself:

领导们开会读稿子的时候,千万别拍照,要是拍了就自己留着好了,要不跟 CGX 同志一样流传出去,事情就闹大了。正所谓,领导很生气,后果很严重。






之所以用百度,是因为 都打不开了。


网易上海市浦东新区网友 ip:124.78.*.*:
2008-03-03 17:34:56 发表


I want to talk about a piece of recent damn news happening in Tongzhou.
Never take photos while the leading cadres are reading their speech notes in a meeting. If you have done it, just keep them for yourself because once the photos go around like Edison Chen's case, you will wake a sleeping dog. It's said that the cadre was very angry and the consequences would be severe.
Let's have a look at this poor photojournalist of Tongzhou Newsletter. He was finished as soon as our Tongzhou District warden flew into a rage.
A quote from the dismissal letter which sent by the newspaper office to Wang Lili–“Through investigation, the photo which you took for warden Deng Naiping who was on behalf of the District Government to make the work report for the Congress, being published in the second page of Tongzhou Newsletter on January 10, 2008, turns out to be a guiding bias and has exerted extremely bad political influence. Your action is considered as a serious negligence of duty and the case is identified as a political incident. After a good deal of discussion, the company decides to terminate the contract with you as from today.”
As to what bias the photo has made and how serious the bias is, just see it by yourself. It's not so yellow, so violent anyway.
A head of the Tongzhou Newsletter explained the political incident of the photo through telephone, “this photo, as picture report, had conveyed the spirit of the Congress in a wrong and uninspiring way. Did it intend to show the readers that the government of Tongzhou District had not done a good job last year and our warden bowed his head to plead guilty?”
What the head of the newspaper office said above has perfectly annotate the photo's “guiding” fault. Leadership is to lead.
You may see the special of 低头照(bowed head photo)in Baidu News.
Luckily, this time Baidu didn't block the criticizing news about the leadership. It really deserves a pat on the back.
Of course, we use Baidu because we can't visit
The comment by a Netease Nitizen.
Netease netizen from Pudong New Area in Shanghai, ip:124.78.*.*:
2008-03-03 17:34:56 Published
The District Chief is fiercer than a tiger, so please be careful to take photo of him.

I think it has hit the nail on the head.

Netease Blogger Li Gaosheng expressed his worry on China's press circles which are full of “hidden rules” and “forbidden grounds”:



Not long ago, the Party committee secretary of Xifeng County let his local police go to Beijing to arrest the journalists, which has been standing jokes, because the journalists are not the media practitioners working under his power, but the reporters of Legal Daily (法制日报) in Beijing. Now, the warden of Beijing Tongzhou District has given a reporter under his authority a lesson–Wang Lili, the photojournalist of Tongzhou Newsletter, was fired because the district warden in his “two grand meeting” picture report “bowed the head with closed eyes, presenting an off-colored image”.

It seems, to call the journalists “uncrowned kings” is biased and even ridiculous.
The district warden was very angry and the consequences would be severe.
According to the recent news, I have a feeling that “iron rice bowl” is not iron. Once the “top leaders” take huff at you, they can give you the sack at will. Laws and regulations here are extremely fragile!
Is it the Chinese characteristics or the result of habit?
Watching old Wang's declining back, his colleagues were still sniveling.
Is it the grief of reporters or the media?
I used to read an article entitled I am weak, because I am a reporter. For a long time, I thought it was the reporters that hold the “right to speak”; now it appears that is not the case. The disparity between ideal and reality is extraordinary. Like other work, the journalism also have to abide by lots of “rules” and “hidden rules”, and elude a variety of “forbidden areas” and “minefields”.

On KDNET which started the topic on Wang Lili's cause rapidly, the netizens vied with each other in airing their own views:


Author: lihailin118
To make the average workers disquieted, are you a qualified Communist? Are you a qualified district warden for the people.
There's nothing special in the picture! No one bowed. Even if the warden had bowed, what of it?
Dare Bush do that?
Dare Blair do that?
We can't see the most basic humanism in the warden's eyes. He is just a local despot.
If the leading cadre dare do such a terrible thing in Beijing, the situation in other parts of China will be worse.


Author: Visiting the Deep Pond at Midnight
Alas, how hard the people's life is! Besides China, such kind of “Political Incident” can only appear in North Korea. If the will of people can really decide the leadership's future,how many cadres will be ousted by the public indignation aroused by the similar things? If a leading cadre can freely strain his power to make the picture report a “Political Incident” because he is personally not satisfied with his image in the photo, the country will be controlled by the personal volition.


Author: Some Time in April
It has revealed how free our press is.


Author: tty66
The photo has shown the essence that the district warden is closing his eyes to tell lies (to tell a bare-faced lie).


Author: Nipping it out and killing it by pinch
The newspaper office was too rigid. Why not PS (use the photoshop to edit) the photo like me? It has not only let the two eyes glaring but also more beautiful.


Author: South-North-East-West Traveler
It's by no means unusual to see such things in press circles.
The chief editor would be dismissed because the name list was out of order, the words of the first chair's speech was less than the second's in the paper, or the crime news involved the local leader's secretary。
I have seen and heard a dozen similar events.
So, we remind each other that if you are going to be a journalist, you must understand what “Politician running newspaper” is.


Author: mldtk
I feel a little scared. It was before the Cultural Revolution that all sorts of political incidents continually appeared.
Who has the right to give such a judgment?
There is investigative commission dealing with the medical accidents and the court working on the lawsuits, but who has the power to judge the political incidents? As usual, the things should be found by the head in their own trade, right? Don't the journalists have their own professional organization?


Author:Xuehai Feixia
The guy is a scapegoat that has been victimized by others. Anyone who has worked in the press knows that to take what kind of photos is the photojournalist's job, but to decide which one should be published is his head's work. Obviously, that guy is forced to assume total responsibility for his boss.


Author: Asser
Some persons always seek excuses for those bureaucrats’ overbearing behavior, asking the public to endure all the time and once there is something wrong, they will shift the blame to the low quality of the people. They would like to say, “compared to the past 3000 years, the present China is excellent and we are living in a great era, so we must understand the rulers and not give any opposing voice.” What's more, they impute China's undemocratic conditions to the common people's poor quality.
Let's pay attention to the fact and think from the reporter's view. How should we do to comply with the journalism ethics and the political officials’ requests at the same time? Anyway, the news must be based on the truth.
Why don't the bureaucrats simply put up an advertisement from now on? There is no need to use the news media for them. Can we see the reports under their order as real news? Even honestly taking photos of them would become a disaster.

1 comment

  • mikeinportc

    Huh? Could someone please explain that . Is there a stigma attached to having one’s eyes closed or just taking pictures of it? Why is it political? Are party members not supposed to blink ? (Sorry , couldn’t help it ; it seems ridiculous to an outsider :) If not for this story , I would think that he was merely glancing down at his notes , also with the assumption that the lights on him were quite bright .

    ps: Nipping, =))))

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