Chinese Blogger Michael Anti (wiki) was awarded the “M100 Sanssouci Media Award” in Potsdam this Thursday. Previous winners of this international media conference were, among others, Bernard Kouchner, founder of the organization “Doctors without Borders,” Ingrid Betancourt, who sat for years in Colombian hostage, and the Dane Kurt Westergaard, who is threatened because of his cartoons.
Anti, whose real name is Zhao Jing (赵静), chose “Michael Anti” as his pen name in journalistic battle. Born in 1975 in Nanjing, he marched entirely on party lines at first, organized himself under the flag of Communist Young Pioneers – “and, to make this worse, I was also a nationalist and opponent of Japan”. When he was 14 years old, the government cracked down the student movement in Tiananmen Square. “For me, people like Liu Xiaobo are traitors of our Fatherland, and it was the army that saved us from a nationwide uproar.”
Censored by Microsoft
The Internet led him out of this world of ideas. Anti discovered it in 1998, in an Internet cafe in the small city of Wuxi, where he then worked as a computer programmer. On the Internet, I found the “unopened archives of national tragedies,” writes anti. At that moment he realized that he had been wrong with his previous interpretation. Also, access to foreign English-language newspapers helped him understand that he had been living in a bubble of information manipulated by the government.
Anti worked as a technician and programmer further, but then went into journalism: He became chief commentator of the Beijing daily newspaper “Huaxia Times.” His boss was Liu Xiaobo. 2004, when Anti was taken in the China office of the “New York Times” under contract, he was already a star of the Chinese blogosphere. In 2005 Microsoft’s MSN Spaces cleared Anti’s blog under pressure from the Chinese government. However, this made him even more famous – worldwide. He became the victim of an immoral deal between dictatorship and businesses.
Problem with Facebook
In March 2011, the experience repeated: Facebook took Anti’s personal profile off from the Internet. The reason: He didn’t use his real name. “I am very, very angry,” said Anti “I found out that even Mark Zuckerberg’s dog has a Facebook account. My journalistic and academic work is more real than a dog “.
Anti, who followed the “free spirit”, is not only in China now. Fellowships and visiting professorships have taken him to Western universities, his prominence will ensure that he not be harassed at home by the state. Awards such as “M100 Media Award” this Thursday support these celebrities – and thus have a humanitarian effect.
Publisher of Far and Wide Journal
Anti has always been the evangelist of new journalism in China. His guide book for journalism were widely spread in early years. In 2007 Anti published the news weekly “Far and Wide Journal” online with other journalists and commentators. The founder of The China Times once helped Anti to establish the online publishing platform when he switched the journal from weekly PDF release to fully functional website. Anti’s project ended in 2010.
Democracy and the Internet
The conference in Potsdam, which accompanied the award, is under the title “Global Democracy – a triumph for social networks?” Among the speakers are many scientists and journalists who are involved in the Arab spring and report on their experience, the role of the network plays in democratization processes.