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Chinese government-controlled newspapers have openly criticized the detention of a village official who called for the end of Communist Party rule, an extraordinary move that some media experts see as a sign that Beijing is granting more leeway on free speech.
The campaign is all the more remarkable because Ren Jianyu, 25, was sentenced to a labour camp for posting online messages that called for the downfall of the party’s “dictatorship” – sentiments that would normally mark him out for harsh treatment by China’s media, assuming they gave any coverage at all.
But several outlets – including the influential Global Times tabloid, owned by Chinese Communist Party mouthpiece the People’s Daily, and The Beijing News newspaper – have criticized Ren’s two-year sentence and called for more freedom for people to criticize authorities.
“It’s worrying that people can still be punished for expressing or writing critical thoughts in modern China,” Yu Jincui wrote in a Global Times commentary last week.

Army Radio is something of a media anomaly. It started out more than 60 years ago as a channel for broadcasting military messages to the civilian population of the young Israel during wartime but over time evolved into a hugely popular and almost normal media outlet, except for the fact that it is funded through the defense budget, staffed mostly by soldiers and has a military commander for its chief editor.
Brig. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, the spokesman for Israel’s military, posted his support of the move on his official Facebook page Monday morning, praising Dekel for the “unpopular and brave decision” to ban the song from a station that is “home to the soldiers,” as one of its slogans says. As a former journalist, army spokesman and station commander, Avi Benayahu is familiar with walking the tightrope of a media outlet that is also a military base. Speaking on Israel Radio — the military station’s competition, where Dekel waged rather uncompromising journalism until recently — Benayahu said Army Radio is committed to as diverse and broad a public debate as possible, “but this breadth has limits in a democracy on the defense.”
Israel Radio made a point of playing the song throughout Monday.

Army Radio is something of a media anomaly. It started out more than 60 years ago as a channel for broadcasting military messages to the civilian population of the young Israel during wartime but over time evolved into a hugely popular and almost normal media outlet, except for the fact that it is funded through the defense budget, staffed mostly by soldiers and has a military commander for its chief editor.
Brig. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, the spokesman for Israel’s military, posted his support of the move on his official Facebook page Monday morning, praising Dekel for the “unpopular and brave decision” to ban the song from a station that is “home to the soldiers,” as one of its slogans says. As a former journalist, army spokesman and station commander, Avi Benayahu is familiar with walking the tightrope of a media outlet that is also a military base. Speaking on Israel Radio — the military station’s competition, where Dekel waged rather uncompromising journalism until recently — Benayahu said Army Radio is committed to as diverse and broad a public debate as possible, “but this breadth has limits in a democracy on the defense.”
Israel Radio made a point of playing the song throughout Monday.