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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:

说说俺们通州最近的牛逼事儿。
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。
看看这位可怜的《通州时讯》报的摄影记者,因为咱通州区的区长一愤怒,挂了。

该报社给王力利的辞退告知书上有这样的话——“经查,2008年1月10日《通州时讯》第二版刊登你拍摄的邓乃平区长代表区政府向大会做政府工作报告的图片新闻出现导向性偏差,政治影响极其不好,属于严重失职,是一起政治事故。经研究决定,即日起本公司与你解除劳动合同。”

至于这张照片怎么出了偏差,偏差到了什么样子,看看就知道,反正不黄不暴力。

head-bowed.jpg

虽然是早在今年一月份的事儿,但是直到前几天事情才传开。看看网易新闻上的报道,是这么说的。

《通州时讯》一位报社领导在电话里解释了这张照片的政治事故含义:“这张照片作为图片新闻,传达大会的精神是错误的,不振奋的,难道照片想告诉读者,通州区去年的工作没做好,区长在低头认罪?”

报社领导的这一句话完美地诠释了照片的“导向性”错误。领导就是领导。
更多消息,可以参见百度新闻的低头照专题。
还好,百度这回没把这种领导的新闻屏蔽掉。值得夸奖。
之所以用百度,是因为 google.cn 都打不开了。

Update:
一位网易网友的评论。

网易上海市浦东新区网友 ip:124.78.*.*:
2008-03-03 17:34:56 发表
区长猛于虎,拍照需谨慎

我觉得,真是说到点儿上了。

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 google.cn.
.
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”:

前一段时间,西丰县委书记要到北京抓记者,沦为笑谈,那是因为记者并非他治下的媒体从业者,而是《法制日报》的记者。现在北京市通州区区长就给其辖下的一名记者上了一课——《通州时讯》摄影记者王力利因为在报道该区“两会”时拍摄的区长“低着头,闭着眼,形象不佳”而被辞退。

看来,记者是“无冕之王”的说法是偏颇的,甚至是滑稽的。
区长很生气,后果很严重!
看最近的新闻,我感到“铁饭碗”并不铁,只要“一把手”看不惯、看不顺,照样摘你的乌纱、砸你的饭碗,法律、规章在这里显得异常脆弱!
这是中国特色,还是习惯使然?
看着老王离去时没落的背影,背后他的同事还在抽泣。
这是记者的悲哀还是媒体的悲哀?
曾经读过一篇文章,名叫《我是弱者,因为我是记者》,一直以为记者掌握“话语权”,现在看来并非如此。原来理想和现实的距离还很长,新闻工作和其他工作一样,也有很多不得不遵守的“规则”和“潜规则”,有各种各样的“禁区”和“雷区”。

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:

文章提交者:lihailin118
弄得普通工作人员人心惶惶,你还是共产党员吗?还是人民区长吗?
就这张照片,算个啥,也没鞠躬呀。即使鞠躬了,又算什么呀。
想起布什,他敢这样干?
布莱尔,他敢这样干?
连最简单的人道主义都不讲,简直就是土皇帝。
还在北京呢,都敢这么干,要在外地,在小地方,下面更没法活了。

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.

文章提交者:夜半临深池
唉,哀民之艰辛,能找到这类“政治事故”的另外一个国家全世界就只剩下朝鲜了,如果真的是民意决定官员前途的话,会有多少这样的官员由于类似事件而激发起民愤而下台,官员自己认为是影响自己个人形象的照片,也可以政治无限发挥扩大化上升到“政治事件”,个人利益等同于国家利益。

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.

文章提交者:四月的某时
可见新闻有多么自由

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

文章提交者:tty66
拍出精髓了哈,本来就是在闭着眼睛说瞎话嘛.

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).

文章提交者:掐出去捏死
photojournalist_1ps.jpg
报社脑子也是死的,像我这样PS一下不就好了,不但两眼囧囧有神,看着还漂亮了几分呢!

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.

文章提交者:南北东西行客
这类事,在新闻界司空见惯。
因为把地方领导人名单排序错了的,总编被撤。
因为第二把手的发言刊登的比第一把手多几十字,总编被撤。
因为报案件侦破通讯时涉及地方领导人秘书,总编被撤。
俺耳闻目睹了十几起。
所以,俺们互相提醒,如果你去当记者,一定要懂什么叫“政治家办报”

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.

文章提交者:mldtk
感觉有点可怕。文革前期就陆续有各种政治事件。
什么人有权做出这样的定性?
医疗事故,有鉴定委员会;打官司有法律;政治事件谁有权定性?发生在自己身上的事情,应该由上级调整吧?
记者没有专业组织吗?

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?

文章提交者:血海飞霞
这位老兄是替罪羊,被人牺牲掉的,干过报纸的都知道,拍什么照片是摄影记者的事,但版面上上什么照片则是报社领导的事,明显地替领导在背黑锅

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.

文章提交者:阿赛尔
有些人总是为这些官僚的霸道寻找借口,要让老百姓忍耐,出了问题,就怪老百姓素质低。他们说,“中国目前的情况已经不错了,相比于3000多年的历史,是伟大的时代,要对执政者理解,不能发出杂音”。他们还把中国不民主的责任,归结为老百姓的素质差。
大家看看这个事实,坐在这位记者的身份上想想,究竟该怎么样,才能做到既不违反新闻职业道德,还要人家满意呢?新闻毕竟要讲事实的阿。
干脆,以后官员们直接发广告好了,搞什么新闻发布呢!你这是新闻么?把你拍真实了,你都踹人啊!

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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