Some Thoughts on How to Do Better Media Work
A few years ago practitioners founded a media company. The old forces' control over other media outlets had prevented the news about the persecution of Falun Dafa from reaching people. It became necessary for us to create this company to spread the truth, because of the lack of fair reporting. In regards to clarifying the truth of Dafa and the persecution, the company has played a big role.
As the Fa-rectification progressed, we have gradually shifted from merely rejecting the persecution to saving the world's people in a comprehensive way. Then, how can this medium do a better job in clarifying the truth more deeply, and saving sentient beings on a larger scale?
While participating in media work for the last two years, our work has made it possible for us to come into contact with people from all walks of life. Each group of people has things they pursue, are concerned with or attached to, all of which have been contaminated by numerous deviated notions developed throughout the long course of history. In their aspirations, people are struggling, suffering and searching, and they seldom have the energy to care about things that seem irrelevant to their personal gain.
As Falun Dafa practitioners who have been doing media work, we are usually busy with both our own jobs and the media work. We also have to study the Fa (1) and practice the exercises, therefore, we hardly have time to understand what people in the ordinary world are really thinking about or attached to, even less do we clarify the truth to them by using their attachments as a starting point. Consequently, in terms of the ordinary world's issues, our media work has stayed at the level of simple news reporting. By adding some related Falun Dafa activities or information, we hoped that everyday people could understand Falun Dafa. When some professional news workers evaluated our content, they frankly pointed out that we had been just doing our jobs perfunctorily, just delivering our product and filling newspaper space. Those of us who have been doing media work know very well that what they said is true.
This has exposed a problem: practitioners' media has lost touch with the ordinary world. Perhaps many fellow practitioners do not agree with me. Aren't we all reporting news from around the world? This only means that on the surface we have the outer appearance of a media outlet. However, our media does not have any angle or direction regarding any issues, such as leading people to look at big events that are happening in the world. How do we moisten the dry soil every day, a little at a time, with the upright notions that people are supposed to have, by using the issues that people are concerned with.
A practitioner in China pointed out in a recent letter: If we don't break through people's way of thinking, our truth-clarification efforts will not achieve a good effect. A person might say that, "Political struggles have always been cruel. So many people died in the June 4th Massacre in Tiananmen Square and in the Great Cultural Revolution; what's the big deal about your little suffering?" He will not take the Falun Gong situation seriously at all. At best he acknowledges the low quality of the judiciary and the existence of specific illegal cases. Yet, he might add this, "China has made great improvements in this aspect, and we should look at the improvement." He indulges himself in his own way of thinking again. Accordingly, clarifying the truth takes determination, patience and the kind of attentiveness that is given to performing a surgical operation. Only then, perhaps we can save this kind of person. It is a big responsibility that requires long-term effort.
People's way of thinking is indeed very important. In "On Buddha Law," Zhuan Falun, Teacher mentions "way of thinking" three times. To a cultivator, if he does not break his way of thinking, he will not be able to see the truth. Then, what about ordinary people? At present, their ways of thinking when evaluating anything are all deviated. Merely explaining the truth about the persecution of Dafa is obviously not enough. We can only approach them with the self-interest they are pursuing and with the loss and gain they are concerned with. In every issue they care about, we can guide their ways of thinking toward the thinking that mankind is supposed to have. For every moment we spend striving to awaken their kind hearts and righteous thoughts, they are getting closer and closer to Dafa. One day when we explain to them the truth about Dafa, they will be able to understand what it is--that's our everlasting compassion and kindness, finally producing and nurturing new life in the human world.
Returning to the issue at hand, good media can have an enormous impact. Every day the headlines of the media report big news or hot issues around the world. These are things that people from all walks of life are concerned with. Isn't it true that "Everything through the ages has happened for the Fa?" When our media followed the SARS story, we made efforts to tell people the harm of the lies and how the Chinese authorities had disregarded people's lives. Through our reports on Hong Kong's Article 23, we guided people into understanding what dictatorship and totalitarianism are, and what people's grassroots power is. These are all issues that have a bearing on us, but for things that we think are "irrelevant" to us, we seldom show concern or take the opportunity to inspire people's righteous thoughts. Yet, these are incidents that many people are concerned with. Their notions are formed, one after another, from these incidents. Their true nature also gets lost amidst messy and complicated delusion. As Fa-rectification Dafa practitioners who are now running the world's largest media, what should we do?
An everyday person once said in an editorial article, "The business section of the New York Times has more than one hundred and ten reporters and editors and each one of them has a specific sector and industry he or she routinely follows. Their daily work mainly focuses on collecting information and conducting research. Once news breaks out in a specific sector or industry, they have to come up with a first-class article. One editor said, 'While working here, even if you are writing a short piece of news, you have to be an expert.' When I lived in the U.S., I went to the Reader's Digest to interview their editors. One editor told me that when they used other newspapers' stories, they usually had to do their own fact checking. The editor either contacted the original author or the people mentioned in the article. They made sure that the story was indeed true before they published it. One thing that we can learn from them is that the American media has a self-disciplining mechanism, especially when it comes to major news items. How to report, when to publish, how much space to take [in the newspaper]--every media company has a thorough plan based on their own styles and ideology. This self-disciplining mechanism has become an indispensable and important part of this industry's rules."
Comparatively speaking, our media has lagged far behind. On the surface, we have countless problems that need to be resolved. Our practitioners feel helpless when they see so many problems and gaps. We don't have many professionals, we don't have the money to hire full-time reporters, we don't have enough time, and so on. If practitioners who do media work can make efforts to improve their professionalism, won't the situation be different?
In "Lecture in Jinan" Teacher said that we should be as knowledgeable as possible in the human world. Among Falun Dafa practitioners, there are people with different professional backgrounds: political science, economics, industrial science, business, history and so on. Shouldn't every practitioner consider himself as an editor, a reporter or freelance writer, keep an eye out for big issues in his field of expertise and interview and report on them in a way that will stabilize the upright principles of the human world?
For example, consider a certain company in society that is dedicated to helping poor and unemployed people get back on their feet. They hold a meeting to commend five people (out of the ten thousand plus people who have received their help) who have succeeded in establishing their own businesses. How would the regular media approach this story? "This is a good thing: encouraging young people to strive to improve themselves and stand up on their own; through hard work, people can overcome poverty." This sounds very reasonable. Actually, this in itself is people's deviated notion. In Teacher's article "Wealth with Virtue," Teacher already pointed out that, "Becoming a king, an official, wealthy, or nobility all come from virtue." Encouraging people to put a lot of effort to get ahead is making people go bad faster. If we are not aware of the deviated nature of this kind of reporting angle, the things that we put into our media report will not only fail to correct people's way of thinking, it will also speed up the degeneration of people. Every word and action of Dafa practitioners has a great impact on society. In fact, in order to save sentient beings, first of all, our ways of thinking have to be upright. How then should we write media reports? For instance, we can dig deep into the material: how much money the organization has put in, how many people they have helped, how many successful cases and what kind of special quality in a person makes a successful case. Then interview people that succeeded and talk about the mental quality for success. Actually, for someone to become successful there must be something that conforms to the principles of the universe, and that is what we need to explore. Consequently, through a comprehensive and in-depth report on an incident, we are sending this righteous thought to people: external factors come by inherent goodness rather than through pursuing. The essence of success still lies in the heart. People who possess the characteristic of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance can become successful more easily.
Another example is the beheading of a South Korean hostage, which is an incident that has shocked the world. People are filled with helplessness, anger and pessimism. Actually, at the moment, if we have a practitioner who has studied history well, he can incorporate history to write an article. He can point out that there have been battles between good and evil in the human world. The force of justice cannot escape the evil's challenge. However, good always overpowers the evil, eventually. Bad people always lose in the end. In doing so, we can inspire people's courage and determination to safeguard justice.
How to put the wisdom and power that Dafa bestows upon us into good use is something that every Fa-rectification Dafa disciple should contemplate. In "To the Fa Conference in Montreal, Canada," Teacher says: "While validating the Fa and putting into action how Dafa disciples should cultivate, you still have some shortcomings." My understanding is that, with regard to the many things we have done, we have only put up a framework, and we still lack sufficient power and impact. Dafa practitioners are experts and scholars in different fields in the ordinary world, whose wisdom and enlightenment have been opened up and awakened. If we can put our professional skills into full play in the media run by fellow practitioners, then the impact of the media will make a fundamental breakthrough, and our pace of saving sentient beings will then be able to catch up with the pace of the Fa-rectification.
The above are just my personal understandings. Please correct me if there's anything improper.
(1) Fa: Law and principles; the teachings of Falun Dafa.