China’s Battered Journalists Discuss Truth Seeking and Curiosity in Modern China
The following is an abridged translation of a recent lament about the status of truth and truth-seeking in contemporary China that went viral in late February. It was written by the WeChat user “youyouluming99,” whose real identity is unknown. — Epoch Times translation team
At a gathering of about 20 former media workers, one person stated that, in his investigative work, when pursuing the truth, he was often asked: “Why do you people do this? Your hard work brings you no returns. You hurt others, and there’s nothing in it for yourselves.” Everyone at the gathering agreed. Yes, that’s how it is, it couldn’t have been said more accurately.
Some of these people had worked for news outlets that once had a big impact in China. Some even had an international reputation. Their work had impacted the lives of many people.
There is a history behind this statement. Many years ago, a media headquartered in Shanghai dug up and exposed the dark secrets of a large enterprise in Beijing. The head of the enterprise made the following assumptions: One, the media wants money, how much money? Two, this media exposed us without informing us first. It must be the doing of a competitor in Shanghai as the media is in Shanghai. Let’s investigate them! Three, was this media given the order by someone with a certain political background?
In fact, there was no background, or any plot. This media was simply reporting the dark secrets it found. “Isn’t this what we should do?” the editor-in-chief asked.
However, the head of the enterprise was puzzled. “What do these people want?” They tried every means to harass the leaders of the media and even repeatedly threatened to kill the editor-in-chief.
In the eyes of the editor-in-chief, these actions were ridiculous.
Some time later, a wealthy man approached the media. He told the editor-in-chief to ask him for a favor. The editor asked: “What for? It was the truth. We just reported the truth.”
Not many consider the question, “What for?”
Investigative reporters dig up the truth.
If you ask a mountain climber: “You work so hard to climb a mountain. What for?” The answer is really simple, “Because the mountain is there.”
Is the purposes of life just about promotions and getting rich? Can these two pursuits alone make a person happy?
Promotions and making money can make people happy. But if they were the only source of happiness, life would be boring, sad, and superficial.
Quality of life is obtained through power and money, but not merely through power and money. Happiness comes from a number of things. We can experience happiness from promotions and wealth, as well as freedom of thought, and searching for truth.
There is no need to talk about “serving the people,” becoming a “prospector of the era,” or “standing up for heaven and earth and building a reputation for the people.” We do it just to find the truth. Truth is beautiful.
Discovering the truth is about the elderly man in Beijing who continues to sharpen his pencil tip for decades; the old farmers in Fujian Province who insist on non-mechanized farming and using their own seeds; the family in Japan who have cultivated only one kind of peach for generations. We find beauty seeing the pencil tip writing smoothly, the wind blowing over the rice corps, and the peaches bending down the tree branches.
Truth is the foundation of happiness. A lot of times it is driven by curiosity.
The Russian writer Solzhenitsyn once said, “A statement of truth is heavier than the weight of the whole world.”
If you were asking Solzhenitsyn, “What for?” you’d be considered a creature from another planet.
There are more and more media these days. Information occupies us 24 hours a day, including when we’re in the restroom or asleep. But in reality, there is less and less news. Real news is extremely rare. Independent views and real knowledge are becoming fewer and fewer. Bubbles are everywhere.
The 20 former news workers, I mentioned above, were once frontrunners of media professionals. They used to risk their lives to report with passion. None of them are working in the media field now. Some are raising pigs, some are selling managing money, some are selling furniture, some are making films, some are providing immigration services, some are selling books, some are doing public relations, and some are even doing public service.
No one is working in the news business. It’s not because they don’t want to, but because it’s not possible to report news. They had to give it up.
Their hard work brought them nothing. They just hurt others with no gain for themselves. They could only sit down to drink and not think about the reason behind it.