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Reporting from the grassroots in vogue (4)

(China Daily)

10:26, October 20, 2011

Closer to readers

Reporters from State media, including People's Daily and Xinhua News Agency, are being sent to dig out more vivid stories of grassroots life. Among them recently were both novices and minister-level journalists, such as the editors-in-chiefs or presidents who might not have been in the frontline of news reporting for a long time.

Li Congjun, president of Xinhua, went to Linzhou, Henan province, simply as a reporter to write about the lives and the unyielding, hard-working spirit of the people who dwell in the Taihang Mountains.

Zhang Yannong, 63, president of People's Daily, insisted on going down into a coal mine in Datong, Shanxi province, to gain a taste of the local miners' life.

"Going grassroots is a tradition of the Chinese media," said Liu Siyang, director of the chief editor's office at Xinhua. The current campaign reiterates this approach in the hope of solving an increasingly prominent problem of the media in recent years, he said.

"Many reporters are now relying heavily on the Internet for quick access to news and are turning their focus away from the grassroots. Celebrities have replaced grassroots people as the main subject of news.

"Although we always say that the people are a principal part of the society, our media coverage is growing distant from the readers," Liu said. "By going grassroots, we'll build a faith in putting the people first.

"At the grassroots level, we'll find the freshest substance for our stories, which truly reflects the nature of history and trends of society. The quality of our stories will be significantly improved, and the readers will love them."

'Stories that matter'

To build a much closer connection with the people, CCTV has sent a large number of reporters to various communities across China, especially villages, factories and military bases in remote or mountain areas. Their goal: to find out the living conditions and major concerns of the local people.

CCTV reporter He Ying and the video crew traveled to Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region and documented the tough journey undertaken by a group of children from a remote mountainous village in Taxcorgan county to reach their school. Many viewers commented on the CCTV website that they had been moved by the efforts of local officials to guide the children on their way, to protect them, to keep them from falling off cliffs.

"Getting in touch with the grassroots should be something that reporters are willing to do from the bottom of their hearts rather than a movement," He said. "Actually, it should be reporters' principle."

She said helping farmers water their crops or spending a day in a factory doesn't necessarily mean a reporter has reached grassroots if he or she does so only for the sake of the campaign.

"People tend to think that grassroots is hard-to-reach places like remote villages," she said. "But it's actually everywhere as long as you have the heart to reach out to people and try to report in their perspective."

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