It has been a month filled with pain and disappointment for Chinese independent media. Immediately after Cenci Project – an independent website dedicated to translate foreign writings into Chinese – blocked by the Great Firewall in Chinese Mainland, Kang Xia, the founder and chief editor revealed that he was going to put an end to the project on his personal social media and in interviews with international news organizations. Coincidentally, another well-established independent media in Hong Kong, the House News, announced its sudden cease of operation. Inferred by an open letter from its founder, lacking of financial support has forced the website to go offline.
“On July 14, the Weibo account, Wechat account and Douban account of Cenci Project were wiped out, alongside with the disappearance of more than ten chat groups on Tencent’s QQ,” Kang writes in ‘All of my friends have died’, his arbitrary to Cenci, “The website was blocked on the next day.” He says, “among those intermitted, surface-scratching and halfway efforts to plan something, the one I truly committed, was Cenci Project”.
A reporter from Coolloud Collective, a prestigious independent media that has a history of 16 years in Taiwan, describes the logic behind the close of House News as “ franchises beaten up by direct-sales”. Cai Donghao, founder of House News who has been close to check-signers like Next media, shut down the website and deleted every article. However, at about the same time, the former CEO of one of the subsidiary companies of Next Media announced to jumpstart Hong Kong Citizens’ Media.
In any society that we live in, no matter it is in China or other countries, political and commercial risks are unavoidable. In civic culture, independent organizations which are seen challenges to modern culture will be inevitably faced with plights: for either Kang, who is committed to this course since college time, or Cai, a tycoon who enjoys respectable social status like, the founders are especially victims to all kinds of pressure.
However, we were defeated by a swelled up misery instead of the longing to the freedom. Such desperation won’t help solve the problem; it will let us indulge in a permissive narcissism. The biggest mistake of an independent media and its participants and operators is to exaggerate the heroic individualism, which leads us to the set pattern of a binary opposition.
Independent media not only belongs to its founder, but also its participants as well as its audience. Its mission – to constructively build and expound a civic society, calls for a prepared sacrifice from its operators: to set aside personal benefits and regarded as an obligation, not only a possible responsibility. To fight with social injustice undauntedly, independent media have to abandon the vanity out of elitism and retain a stern resolve. Therefore, they must give up the utopian fantasy and return to professionalism.
There is no cause requires as much refrain from arrogance as running an independent organization. It calls for determined insistence upon the ideals. Crying out is the best empowering weapon and silence is the best practical wisdom- they are what it needs to enjoy the freedom from fear. It’s not worth excessive self-pity since a single case of an independent organization cease to operation doesn’t mean the end of the world.
The age will witness the rising of independent media, which will record the history of our time and themselves. Freedom is hardly the result of waiting, it is what independent media should become.