On Oct. 22, 2018, BuzzFeed published an article about us. This provides an opportunity for us to clarify our editorial approach to our friends, readers, partners, and society as a whole. While the best way to understand our editorial approach is to read our website and newspaper yourself, here we’ll offer a few thoughts.
I. About our reporting on the Trump administration
As an independent, truth-seeking media, The Epoch Times chooses not to play political games. We are committed to reporting the facts on the Trump administration, even as many other media have resorted to selective reporting and, in some cases, spread inaccurate information.
Whether one agrees with the policies of the Trump administration or not, there is no denying that President Donald Trump’s presidency is transforming America. This is something that most Americans genuinely care about.
A study by Pew Research Center found that during the president’s first 60 days in office, only 5 percent of coverage was positive. Similarly, a study by the Media Research Center found that coverage of the president on major evening newscasts was 90 percent negative in 2017. Coverage also focused heavily on unsubstantiated allegations of collusion with Russia, which received more attention than any policy issue, such as health care or the economy, during that period.
America, and the powerful vision of freedom and opportunity that its founding fathers set, is unique in the world. Having personally experienced the horrors of communist ideology in China, our own founders realized this American opportunity to create a powerful, free voice.
We see the Trump administration’s efforts to change socialist policies in America, as well as set policies to counter infiltration and subversion by China, as remarkable reversals from past policies, and sincere efforts that, if fully realized, will benefit America and the world as a whole.
Beyond that, we believe that reporting fairly and accurately on any president benefits the American people. The Epoch Times is a nonpartisan news organization. In our 18-year-long history, we have never endorsed a political candidate. Our motto is “truth and tradition.” We strive to live up to it.
II. About The Epoch Times’ relationship to Falun Gong
Our founder, John Tang, left China after the Tiananmen Square massacre, enrolling in a postdoctoral program at Georgia Institute of Technology. He thought he had left the communist system behind.
However, in 1999, he saw the same hate propaganda apparatus that had been active in vilifying the Tiananmen students churn into action as the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) launched its persecution of practitioners of the spiritual discipline Falun Gong, who at the time were estimated to number 70 million to 100 million in China.
Then-Chinese dictator Jiang Zemin had ordered the state to “eradicate” Falun Gong, and in tandem, he ordered all of China’s wholly state-controlled media to participate in the effort. Jiang also took his propaganda efforts internationally, even giving President Bill Clinton a book containing a “relentless barrage of propaganda,” reported AP at the time.
John was horrified as mass arrests in China soon followed. He lost contact with friends and colleagues in China and saw them demonized both in China and America. He started The Epoch Times in his basement in Atlanta to offer a perspective independent of the regime, and editors and reporters in China soon came on board. Shortly after, 10 staff members in China were jailed and sentenced to long prison terms ranging from three to 10 years for charges like “inciting subversion of the state power,” forcing us to work largely underground in China.
Later, Epoch Times contributors continued to be targeted: One died in prison in 2017 after serving 12 years; another was just released this year after serving 10 years. The point is, we have been committed from the beginning to getting the truth out under difficult circumstances, and this is and will forever be part of our DNA.
We see the CCP’s persecution of Falun Gong practitioners, and the remarkable and heroic ways in which they have responded to that persecution, as one of the most underreported stories of the last 20 years.
We are now headquartered in New York City and have grown into an international media that publishes in 23 languages and in 35 countries. We publish on a wide variety of topics in both news and entertainment. China news and analysis remains one of our expertise, especially reporting on issues for which the CCP wants to control the narrative—most notably, human rights violations, the democracy movement in China, and the oppression faced by religious and ethnic minorities in China, such as Tibetans, Uyghurs, Christians, and of course Falun Gong practitioners.
In the United States, we bring that same truthful and independent spirit to our reporting on U.S. politics and beyond. We look forward to having you join us on that journey.
Jasper Fakkert is editor-in-chief of the U.S. editions of The Epoch Times.
Correction: This article has been updated to accurately reflect the length of jail terms given to Epoch Times reporters in China.