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.
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,