本文标题所谈的不是两家报纸，而是一家，并且是被北京赋予“对外塑造国家形象、争夺话语权”的重大外宣使命，对内弘扬“全世界都嫉妒我们好”的媒体重镇。我之所以要专为这张报纸写篇文章，乃是因为最近该报再度发生了被国内媒体同行称为“报格分裂”的事情：2011年8月9日，在Global Times上出现的Exclusive：Ai Weiwei breaks his silence （作者Liang Chen），就未曾出现在《环球时报》上。
也就是说，承担外宣使命的Global Times需要通过对艾未未的采访，向世界释放一些符合中国政府需要的信息，表明艾未未现在已经可以“自由发言”了，咱们中国是有言论自由的！同时又试图借这一政府赐予“独家信息”抬高Global Times在英文报界的地位。这种把戏是Global Times玩得轻车熟路的老套路。远的不说，就在今年3月30日就玩过一票。那一天，Global Times以“Three outspoken academics”（三个直陈时弊的学者）为题对张鸣、陈丹青和贺卫方作了报道。针对这一Global Times 游戏，贺卫方在微博上发表感叹，“我们又一次看到，在中 国，媒体管理尺度的‘内外有别’。该报中文版也能如此坦率真诚，尊重事实，遵循传媒伦理，那该多好。” 我认为贺卫方这评价是因为对大外宣的目的缺乏深入了解，从实质上描画，我更愿意这种内外表现不一称之为“阴阳脸”。
但这家《环球时报》引起我关注，却远比上述时间要早。该报在2006年制造的一起以假乱真的谎言曾引起我注意。当时德国新发布一部纪录片，片名叫Losers and Winners，译成中文就是“失败者与胜利者”。这部纪录片我看过，主题是比较在德国工人与在德中资企业工作的中国工人的各自境况，大致意思是德国工人权利意识强，待遇高，但却因此增加企业成本，导致企业大量外迁而失去工作。中国工人经常加班，工资低，还要忍受极为恶劣的工作及生活条件，但却因此得到了工作。纪录片因此发出的疑问是：中德两国工人，到底谁是胜利者？谁是失败者？
该报这种撒谎的阴阳脸特性，等到Global Times于2009年4月20日创刊之后愈加突显。由于 Global Times肩负“让世界了解中国”的外宣使命，因此与《环球时报》的报道内外有别。英文版为了打造“公信力”，只好有时收起那副令人讨厌的喉舌嘴脸，扮演“尊重事实”的角色，因此Global Times的内容，或者是根本未出现于《环球时报》上，或者是以与Global Times很不相同的面孔出现于《环球时报》。
Global Times与《环球时报》这种阴阳脸特性终于引起中国传媒业界关注，并因此使该报在Global Times开办的第二年成为中国媒体的热点话题——媒体本身成为媒体的热点话题，这可能也算得上新闻史上的一大奇迹。北京外国语大学国际新闻传播系教授展江撰文“《环球时报》的报格分裂”，谈到Global Times与《环球时报》的不同。他举的例子是两者对德国伯尔基金会的一份报告的报道。2010年6月14日，德国伯尔基金会公布概述德国七家有影响媒体2008年对华报道的基本状况。在比较之后，展江认为，Global Times比较准确地报道了伯尔基金会报告的主旨，而《环球时报》则失实甚至编造他人观点、断章取义，与国内其它中文媒体相比，《环球时报》“在失实甚至编造他人观点方面走得最远”。
The “Double-faced characteristic” of Global Times and Huanqiu Shibao
Written on August 20, 2011
(translated by krizcpec)
The two papers mentioned in the title are actually two versions of the same paper, a key media stronghold that Beijing has given the crucial external propaganda missions of “shaping the national image and competing for the right to speak” abroad, and promoting the idea that “the whole world is jealous of how good we are” at home. It is because of something happened recently that I wrote an article specifically on this paper, something that Chinese media practitioners refer to as a reflection of the split in the character of that paper.
On August 9, 2011, the English version of the paper ran an exclusive: Ai Weiwei breaks his silence (authored by Liang Chen). That story did not appear in its Chinese version.
What that meant was, through that interview with Ai Weiwei, the external propaganda vehicle of Global Times was required to release to the world news that suit the needs of the Chinese government: Ai Weiwei is now “free to speak”; there is freedom of speech in China. At the same time, the paper attempted to use the “exclusive story” that the government has granted them to lift its own status among English newspapers. This is a trick Global Times often employs and to which the paper has got totally accustomed.
Not long ago on March 30 it also employed this trick. On that day, Global Times published an article “Three outspoken academics”（三个直陈时弊的学者）on Zhang Ming, Chen Danqing and He Weifang. In response to the Global Times report, He Weifang commented on Weibo, “Once again we see in this country the different sets of media control applied to media targeting market at home and abroad. How nice would it be if the Chinese version of that paper could be as frank, sincere, respectful to the facts and in compliance with media ethics.”
I see this remark of He Weifang as an indication that he doesn’t have an in-depth understanding of the purpose of Great External Propaganda. Base on the true nature of this inconsistency, I would prefer to call it as the “double-faced characteristic”.
The paper caught my attention far earlier than that. Back in 2006 it fabricated a misleading lie. At that time, a documentary called Losers and Winners was released in Germany. The theme of that documentary was to compare the respective situations of the German workers and the Chinese ones working for Chinese businesses in Germany. While German workers have stronger awareness in their rights and get high pay, they increase business costs. Thus result in a mass exodus of businesses and have their jobs axed; their Chinese counterpart often work overtime, get low pay, and have to endure extremely poor working and living conditions – yet because of these, they get hired. The documentary then raised the question: German and Chinese workers, who exactly are winners, and who are losers?
On November 13, 2006 Deutsche Welle published an article about this documentary, which was “creatively” reproduced on Huanqiu Shibao later on. The article on Deutsche Welle bore the same title as the documentary; Huanqiu Shibao had changed that title into “Deutsche Welle: vigor of Chinese workers shocks Germans”, thereby transformed an article that compared the plights in which workers of the two countries are trapped respectively into one that showed the Germans commendation for the Chinese workers. The “loser” image of Chinese workers regarding their rights was swept away completely.
In response to this, I wrote an article “Traps made by theChinese media (中国媒体制造的陷阱)”. In it I compared the differences between the original article and the reproduced one and then pointed out that by employing such techniques as clipping, quoting out of context, and studied distortion, Huanqiu Shibao made a documentary that revealed the low status and the exploitation the Chinese workers suffered sound like one that documented the Chinese workers who traveled great distance to Europe and deeply moved the foreigners with their willingness to cope with harsh lives and exhausting work. And at the same time through the mouth of foreign media Huanqiu Shibao expresses the idea that with diligence in arduous conditions, China can swiftly surpass developed countries.”
This wasn’t the only instance that Huanqiu Shibao told damned lies. In 2008, with respect to the incident about Zhang Danhong, deputy director of the Chinese department of Deutsche Welle at the time, Huanqiu Shibao often published only those one-sided statements that were in favor of Zhang, deliberately ignored the true reasons for Zhang’s dismissal: she lied and turned the public media vehicle with which she was in charge into a private tool to vent her personal anger; intentionally misled readers inside China into thinking that Zhang was sacked because of racial discrimination that resulted from her attempt to speak “fairly” on China.
The double-faced characteristic of that paper became even more obvious after its English version, Global Times, was launched on April 20, 2009. Since Global Times has the external propaganda mission of “getting the world to know China”, its reports are not identical with Huanqiu Shibao. To obtain credibility, Global Times has to set aside its face of a mouthpiece, playing the role of “respecting the facts”. Therefore, reports that run on Global Times would either make no appearance on, or be published very differently on Huanqiu Shibao.
Finally the double-faced characteristic of Global Times and Huanqiu Shibao caught the attention of Chinese Media industry. In the year following the launch of Global Times, it and its Chinese version became a hot topic in Chinese media. A media itself became a hot topic in the media, that probably could be seen as extraordinary in media history.
Zhan Jiang, professor of Department of international media, Beijing Foreign Studies University, wrote an article about the differences of Global Times and Huanqiu Shibao, “the split of character of Huanqiu Shibao”. The example he cited was the reports from both on a report by the German Böll Foundation. On June 14, 2010, the German Böll Foundation published an overview of [basic situation of/ how] seven influential German media reported on China in 2008. After making a comparison, Zhan Jiang concluded that Global Times accurately reported the theme of the Böll Foundation report; whereas Huanqiu Shibao did it inaccurately, it even fabricated views of others and quoting the source out of context. Compared with other Chinese media, Huanqiu Shibao “went farthest in fabricating views of others”.
Because of its approach to report as “a horn of patriotism”, Huanqiu Shibao has been dubbed as “the base camp for Fenqing (Angry Youth)”, “the nest of patriotic thieves”, “commercial nationalism” and so on. Regarding this, Southern People Weekly had an interviewed with Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of Huanqiu Shibao on June 11. That interview, entitled “Huanqiu Shibaois not happy”, revealed Hu’s philosophy of running a newspaper and the past and present of Huanqiu Shibao, and is worth keeping for research purpose.
Hu Xijin has very thoroughly interpreted the political mission of the paper: Global Times is to run China’s news with a global perspective; Huanqiu Shibao, global news with a China perspective. In brief, this means playing the double-faced role. Editor Hu is a person with excellent psychological quality. He manages to switch back and forth two different drama settings without going insane.
The problem is, information sent doesn’t mean it’s received; information received doesn’t mean it would be interpreted in the way the sender had hoped. In Western societies, credibility is the source of life to media. But with Beijing’s strong backing, this double-faced Huanqiu Shibao doesn’t lack money, what it lacks is nothing other than credibility.