Associated Press links to Chinese blogger

Note: This blog post also ran in the Society of Professional Journalism’s “Journalism and the World” blog. Click here to see the original post.

I don’t know how long this has been happening, but I just noticed that the Associated Press quoted a Chinese blogger on a story (about a famous house in the south of China that developers could not demolish and that stuck out for three years like a nail in the middle of a huge construction zone).

The house owners just agreed to a compensation deal and the house came down, with the blogger as witness.

In addition to quoting the blogger, Zhou Shuguang, in the story, the Associated Press also linked to his blog. The blog is in Chinese, but you can read the Google translation of it.

Unfortunately, the nail house story is on an inside page, which I can’t get to, because the Blogspot domain that hosts the blog is blocked here in China.

To me, this says something interesting about the transformation of the professional reporter. A few years ago, it would have been almost impossible to find a witness to that event, unless a reporter actually went there and canvassed neighbors.

In fact, one of the roles I was proudest off as a war correspondent was as witness — I saw what happened, and wrote it down, and told everyone about it. There were no secrets if I was around.

In practice, this simply meant that folks would wait until I was gone before organizing the massacre.

Now, there are witnesses everywhere who share their experiences with the public. Not just in high-profile areas like Baghdad, but in the small dramas like the Chinese nail house.

The other part of the nail house story that I particularly like is that owners used the bloggers to get national media attention, used that to get international media attention, and then leveraged that for a higher settlement from developers.

I feel so proud. China is growing up so fast.

Signing off in Shanghai,