Giant on the move
Dos and don’ts of reporting
First the Chinese authorities provided foreigners with a list of dos and don’ts for when they visit the games. Now Human Rights Watch has got into the act, providing foreign journalists with its own booklet giving advice on how to report out of China.
The Reporters’ Guide gives useful information on what do if police detain you (don’t hit them), what to do if your reporting rights are not respected (complain) and what to do to prevent anyone snooping on your stories or emails (one suggestion — use gmail and add an ‘s’ at the end of http in the URL).
When China was awarded the Games it promised media the same freedom to report as they had enjoyed at previous Olympics. Perhaps Beijing thought only statistics-obsessed sports hacks would turn up, but if so they are likely to be disappointed with journalists from around the world preparing to descend on China in the coming weeks, many of them planning to follow everything but the athletes.
Human Rights Watch believes the “freedom to report” message has not filtered down to zealous security staff, who are unused to the nosey habits of foreign media. To help convince local officialdom that visitors can indeed talk to just about anyone they want to during the games, the booklet even prints out in Chinese the temporary regulations that give the 21,600 accredited reporters the right to rove.
That said, the main message for visitors is not to get the locals into trouble and even recommends that correspondents change the names of any Chinese dissidents they might interview to prevent unwelcome attention from the police once the media circus has moved on.
“One thing is certain, all the foreigners will be able to leave China after the games, but the locals who help them won’t be able to go anywhere,” said Human Rights Watch media director, Minky Worden.
Pix from top: Journalists and visitors stand outside the Beijing Olympics Main Press Centre (MPC) during its opening in Beijing July 8, 2008. The building, including the International Broadcast Centre, on the Olympic Green will house the 21,600 media accredited to the Games with up to 10,000 more unaccredited reporters being catered for at the Beijing International Media Centre. A journalist works at the Main Press Workroom of Beijing Olympics Main Press Centre (MPC) during its opening in Beijing July 8, 2008. (Snaps by Claro Cortes IV). Picture of media at a Yao Ming news conference in Beijing on June 26 by David Gray.