2008-07-26 01:08:38 GMT 2008-07-26 09:08:38 (Beijing Time) Xinhua English
By Xinhua Writer Ren Fang
Beijing, July 26 (Xinhua) -- Never before has Beijing accommodated so many overseas journalists. Global media, by sending the largest number of journalists ever to an Olympiad, displayed their passion and curiosity to scrutinize this ancient metropolis.
The New York Times launched a blog named "Rings" that specialized on the Games, aiming to offer a platform for free discussions concerning various aspects of China. The well-respected daily was reported to have sent over 30 reporters to cover next month's Olympics.
The 60th anniversary Reith Lectures of British Broadcast Company (BBC), given by Professor Jonathan Spence, seen as one of the world's greatest historians on Chinese history, took China as their subject. The topics ranged from Confucian ways in the country 2,500 years ago, to Sino-British ties in the past 300 years, to local people's attitude toward the Olympics.
Large amount of overseas Internet media, including visual ones, made their fresh presence in the field that was formerly occupied by TV and newspapers.
Official figures showed about 27,000 staff from domestic and overseas media registered to cover the Aug. 8 to 24 Beijing Olympics, the largest among all past Games.
"The reporters come here not only to cover the activities within the gymnasium and stadium, but also to learn about the people, the economy and the nation," said Zhai Huisheng, director of the Beijing International Media Center (BIMC), which will serve more than 5,000 non-accredited reporters during the Games.
BIMC, together with the Main Press Center and International Broadcasting Center, started their media service earlier this month.
So far more than 20 press conferences, including one on July 17 where the National Bureau of Statistics released data about the Chinese economy in the first half, have been held in the media centers. Spokespersons were waiting to answer questions all day long during working hours.
"BIMC is consulting with the central bank, and the watchdogs of commercial banks and the security market, to ask them to hold press conferences on economy and finance," Zhai told Xinhua in an interview.
He said that while the BIMC would make every effort to satisfy the reporters' curiosity on hot topics such as the country's stock market and real estate sector, relevant departments may decline to speak in the BIMC.
The efforts made by the BIMC include telephone numbers of the 78 departments of the Chinese government on the front page of the BIMC official website, and pamphlets carrying routes to news-value sites and events across the nation.
Although the Games is still more than 10 days away, the media campaign is warming up. News coverage has extended from Tian'anmen Square at the center of Beijing to the corners of small streets.
Britain's Times newspaper carried a long lead story entitled "Welcome to the city of clean streets and filthy air" on July 24, telling of the writer's day of travel in Beijing with a friend.
"We have more or less mastered a public transport system that is cheap, clean and efficient. Except for a single taxi driver and a few officials, everyone has been charming. We have not been hassled, and only mildly cheated. In no other city have we felt as safe, even from pickpockets. We saw no drunks, no louts and hardly anyone spitting," the story concluded.
"But neither," it continues, "could we see the countless shops and shacks that have been demolished, or the thousands of street vendors and migrant workers who have been driven out so that Beijing can present its prettiest face to the world."