Mù Qīng (穆青) (March 15, 1921 - October 11, 2003) was a journalist, author and photographer. He was well-known for his contributions to Chinese journalism in the 20th century. He has been a reporter at Xinhua News Agency for years. He was promoted to be the Chief President of Xinhua. Most of his works were published in journalism textbooks and have been used widely throughout China.
Mu was born in Bengbu
in 1921. After attending secondary school
he joined the Eighth Route Army
, and in 1937, at the age of 16, he was responsible for a number of propaganda
works. He joined the Communist Party of China
in 1939 and entered the Lu Xun Academy of Art
(鲁迅艺术学院) a year later.
Mu commenced his career in journalism as a war correspondent
in Jiefang Daily
(解放日报) in the year 1942. Early in his career, he engaged in covering news stories on war, including the Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945)
and the Chinese Civil War
. After Japan had surrendered in 1945, Mu was sent to the North-eastern China and established Dongfang Daily
Career in Xinhua
After the founding of the People's Republic of China
(PRC) in 1949, Mu was promoted to a senior level in the Xinhua News Agency
. In 1951, Mu was given the title of Vice President for the Xinhua Headquarters in Beijing
. Later in 1955, he moved from the Headquarters to the Xinhua News Agency main office in Shanghai
, where he was President for the next 3 years.
On 1982, Mu became the Chief President of Xinhua until his retirement in 1992. On October 11, 2003 he died from lung cancer in Beijing.
Concern for the poor
Mu was known for his interest in reporting on the circumstances of Chinese peasants. He visited different parts of China frequently and interviewed the poverty stricken communities about their daily experiences. His goal was to make the central government aware of the needs of those who are underprivileged.
Mu wrote stories about Communist Party and local government officials he saw as role models. The most famous of these is "Jiao Yulu - A Good Example of the Secretaries of the County Committee of the Communist Party" (县委书记的榜样——焦裕禄), in which Mu recorded the work done by Jiao Yulu in helping the peasants during a time of natural disaster.
Mu's Principles of Journalism
Throughout Mu's career in journalism, there are several principles which he has upheld.
Importance of Investigation
Mu believed that Investigative journalism
is a journalist's responsibility to the readers. He thought that investigation is essential in ensuring that the facts reported are accurate. Journalists must be constantly alert and insist on investigation so that the news reported would be honest and truthful.
Mu believed that investigation is so important that it sustains the life of a journalist as a journalist. He also thought that without investigation, news would lose its energy, orientation and meaning. On the other hand, Mu resisted making reports with people and stories which were fictional.
Importance of Raising Questions
Mu believed that in order to have accurate news reporting, journalists have to be constantly ready to challenge the information collected. Instead of merely reporting facts in a narrative way, journalists are to reveal to the readers the significance and meaning behind the news reports.
Mu thought that raising questions enable journalists to think more, investigate more, and discover more; only by doing these things, can journalists reach closer to the truth.
Importance of Reporting Up-to-date Social Problems
Mu believed that journalists should discover more up-to-date social problems
instead of reporting old problems. This could draw people's attention and motivate them to search for solutions. These reports could eventually help remove the obstacles to social development
Mu stated that journalists should actively report social issues and policies which aroused great public concern. Transparency in major social issues enabled the public to get hold of more information and hence could react correspondingly. Consensus between the people and the government could be easily reached if the public understood the rationale behind each policy implemented by the government.
Mu's Influence on Journalism in China
Resisting Threats and Criticisms
Apart from news writing, Mu was also famous for his directorship of the Xinhua News Agency. He helped defend independence of journalism during a period when biased news reporting was prevalent. When the Anti-Rightist Movement
started in 1957, the Shanghai
Office of Xinhua, under the leadership of Mu, was the only branch that did not engage in criticising the rightists
Although Mu was under severe criticism during the Cultural Revolution, he upheld the principles. In 1975, Mu reported to Mao Zedong about opposition of Jiang Qing, leader of Gang of Four, towards Zhou Enlai and Deng Xiaoping once he got hold of the information from his reporters, ignoring the potential consequences that might have caused him.
Political Role of Xinhua
Mu claimed that the Xinhua News Agency was a tool for Communist Party of China
's (CPC) propaganda. It represented the Party and the People's Republic of China
(PRC), and was also a medium for the promotion of Marxism
and the CPC's orientation, direction and policies. He required all journalists of the Xinhua News Agency to work in conformity with the principles of the Party and the Central Government.
Claiming to be at the side of the proletariat, Mu heavily criticized the appearance of capitalism in Chinese journalism. Mu believed that the thoughts of liberation advocated by capitalism would lead to a denial of the CPC leadership. He constantly reminded the journalists in Xinhua to maintain absolute obedience towards the CPC.
Mu's strong stance helped preserve the political orientation of the whole of Xinhua News Agency.
Leading Xinhua to the World
Mu's contribution to Xinhua's development had been widely recognized. He envisioned that for Xinhua would become an international news agency
, it had to be more accurate and efficient in its news reporting, as well as to acquire a wider coverage on the news of developing countries
Under the leadership of Mu, Xinhua endeavoured to give the world a Chinese voice, by developing its own perspective. Aiming at this goal, Mu introduced new strategies to the agency and improved on the standard of news reporting. He placed emphasis on the training of young reporters, and advocated the idea of searching for truth by reaching out to the lower class of society.
Mu's Contribution to Literature
Early Encounter with Literature
When Mu was young, he was more interested in becoming a writer
than a journalist. While he was studying in Lu Xun Academy of Art
, his writing skills were honed as he spent a lot of effort on them. He learned theories of literature
from many famous writers of modern China, e.g. Mao Dun
and Zhou Yang
, president of the Academy at that time. This essentially led to his literary style of news writing in his later career.
Relationship Between Journalism and Literature
Mu's greatest contribution was his news writing and literature. He disagreed with people at that time who did not regard literary reportage (报告文学) as a kind of literature and he insisted that literary reportage should be based on real people and real life situations, rather than fiction.
His work, particularly about people, had incorporated various techniques of literature into news writing and had profound impacts on the development of literary reportage in China. His article "For Premier Zhou's Exhortation" (为了周总理的嘱讬) was once selected as the Outstanding Literary Reportage in China and this proved the literary value of his journalistic works.
Mu's Contribution to Photography
First Encounter with Photography
Mu had written many correspondences during the “war era”, however he did not have the chance to take any photographs reflecting the real world he was writing about. In the 80s, with the advancement of technology, Mu started to take pictures during his journeys in different places.
Mu liked to present his stories through his camera in a realistic way. He resisted reporting with second hand information. His photographs went with this principle as well.
Famous Quotes by Mu Qing
- "As a Communist Party member, a journalist of our people, I cannot conceal the truth." - self-criticism for doing something wrong in the past. (作为一个共产党员,一个人民的记者,不能不说实话) - 忆起放 “卫星”的稿子而深刻自省
- "I am a journalist, I am willing to have a look for myself" - when others prepare the interview material for him, he says. 我是记者,我愿意自己去看看。) - 每次采访,面对别人准备好的材料、汇报,他总会说
- "Never forget the people" (勿忘人民)
- "We can write news reports like prose" (用散文的笔法写新闻), "the future development of news article writing should be based on the style of prose writing with a preservation of its flexibility and a usage of lively words......" (我们的新闻报道的形式和结构也应该向自由的活泼的散文式的方向发展)
- "Whether an event should be reported or not, when to report, how to report, first of all, we need to consider the overall situation." - a conclusion based on many past bitter lessons (一件事情应不应该报道,什么时候报道,采取什么方法报道,首先要看大局) - 以历史的惨痛教训总结出来
Famous works by Mu Qing
- Ding ci yi shu (《定瓷藝術》) (2002)
- Hsin wen san lun (《新聞散論》) (Talking about News) (1996)
- Jiao yu lu (《焦裕祿》) (1980)
- Ming dai min yao qing hua (《明代民窯青花》) (With Tang Weijian) (2000)
- Mu Qing san wen xuan (《穆青散文選》) (1984)
- Shi ge gong chan dang yuan (《十個共產黨員》) (10 Communists)
- Weiyena di xuan lü (《維也納的旋律》) (The Melody of Vienna) (1983)
- Xiang zhong de hong qi (《湘中的紅旗》)(1950)
- Xin wen gong zuo san lun (《新聞工作散論》) (1983)
- Zhongguo xin wen yi da xi, 1937-1949. Bao gao wen xue ji (《中國新文藝大系, 1937-1949. 報告文學集》) (Edited by Mu Qing) (1996)
- Zhongguo xin wen yi da xi, 1949-1966. Bao gao wen xue ji (《中國新文藝大系, 1949-1966. 報告文學集》) (Edited by Mu Qing) (1987)
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