Sunday, April 06, 2008

My new communist friend plus some media

Soooo...I spent some time with our class visitor last week. As soon as she introduced herself as a visiting scholar from China curiosity kicked in and I wanted to know more. I approached her after class to find out if she had some free time. Turns out she had lots of it and would welcome the opportunity to engage in some social intercourse with a "local."
Bear with me, I'm getting to the media consumption part.
Anyways, I took her to Lapham Peak State Park (the highest point in Waukesha County), Old World Wisconsin (it was closed but the gate was open so we went in and drove around anyway), Conejito's (her first experience with Mexican food) and the lakefront where we climbed around on the huge boulders for a while. I invited her to attend a lecture Wednesday evening in the Fireside Lounge at the Student Union. We both enjoyed the presentation given by a Jesuit priest from Marquette University entitled "The Iraq War, Who Profits." During the Q&A afterwards someone asked the speaker to recommend an outlet for honest, relevant news. He cited as a reliable source. I logged on later and perused the headlines and authors and thought it looked promising for people taking their news seriously. You have to be your own gatekeeper though, running the risk of reading only the news you know you'll like or agree with thus avoiding a broader perspective and exposure to differing points of view.
Another outlet I was alerted to in reading the book We're All Journalists Now is Newstrust, an online news rating system. I logged on there also and found it to be a fascinating site I intend to spend some time with.
There, that's the media part. Now back to our visitor.
She lives with her husband in a small apartment in Guan Zhou, a little burg of about 7 million people. She teaches Journalism and Communication at Jinan University and commutes by bicycle. She used to get around on a scooter but they were outlawed. She continued to ride until the officials confiscated it. Her husband gets chauffeured to work as an editor of an alternative newspaper owned by the main stream communist press. It seems the commie press doesn't make money so they started this alternative paper because it appeals more to the "peasants" (her term). She commented on the blue of our sky, theirs is grey. According to her Tibetans don't like the Dali Lama. They are enslaved by him and his monk followers. Chinese propaganda? She says the info was found in books authored by Tibetan refugees.
All in all it was an interesting couple of days, and I got through it without causing an international incident which may not surprise anyone reading this but my friends and family were crossing their fingers and holding their collective breath.
By the way, more media. While I was laboriously pecking this out on the keyboard I was listening to a program on WHAD, the NPR station out of Madison. The show is called To The Best of Our Knowledge, this segment, Dumbing Down, Smartening Up, aired Sunday at noon and I highly recommend giving it a listen.

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