‘Guard Against Fire, Theft, and Journalists’: The Public Against the Press in China
Journalists’ Day in China is celebrated on 8 November, one day before the Fire Prevention Day – 119 (corresponding to the date 9 November) is the emergency telephone number for firefighters. The next day, 10 November, is naturally linked to 110, which is the emergency number for police in China. The three consecutive days have been sarcastically interpreted by the Chinese public as the supporting evidence for the popular saying “guard against fire, theft, and journalists,” which reveals a much ignored aspect of China’s worsening media environment – the public’s distrust, intolerance, and aversion against journalists. As widely acknowledged, the situation of press freedom in China has continued to deteriorate during recent years. Much attention has been paid to the jailing of journalists and the upgraded censorship on both traditional and digital media. However, besides state repression, it’s also important to notice the pressures, threats, violence, and incitement aimed at the media and journalists from the public. Among the general public, some social groups are especially aggressive in launching attacks, harassment, and intimidation on journalists. In this article, the author focuses on a specific group that has tense relationship with journalists – medical professionals including doctors and nurses.