感谢评委会将 2016 年度的新闻良知与正义奖授给我。良知与正义这两个词的份量很
Yang Jisheng Speech Transcript
Read Yang Jisheng's speech in Chinese (pdf)
I thank the Nieman class of 2016 for giving me the Louis M. Lyons Award for
Conscience and Integrity in Journalism. I feel overwhelmed by the weight
words "conscience" and "integrity," but they serve to encourage and
spur me on.
The Nieman fellows are all distinguished journalists. I fervently love the
profession of journalism. After more than forty years of being tempered in
position, and based on my experience and observation, this is how I evaluate
journalism as a profession:
This is a despicable profession that can confuse right and wrong, reverse
white, manufacture monstrous falsehoods and dupe an audience of millions.
This is a noble profession that can point out the ills of our times,
darkness, castigate evil, advocate for the people and take on the
This is a banal profession that evades conflict, ignores questions of
wrong, plays it safe and willingly serves as a mouthpiece of the powerful.
This is a sacred profession that cherishes all under heaven, contemplates
questions, criticizes the political situation, monitors the government,
with society and makes the news media the Fourth Estate.
This is a shallow profession that anyone can take on, requiring only the
write a coherent narrative and a minimum of knowledge, demanding no brilliant
insights but only obedience and submission.
This is an unfathomable profession; while journalists are not scholars,
required to study and gain a comprehensive grasp of society. Any
matter how erudite and insightful, will feel unequal to the task of
complex and ever-changing society.
This is a safe and comfortable profession that gives journalists access to
balconies and the corridors of power, that lets them attend lavish
gala celebrations, interview important officials and meet the rich and
the crest of success and enjoy limitless fame. Journalists can barter
and influence into positions of power and wealth.
This is a difficult and dangerous profession. Quite apart from war
who spend their time dodging hails of bullets, even in a peacetime,
and searching for the truth involves arduous journeys and immense
obstacles in the
war against tyranny and evil. A journalist who touches a sore spot of the
establishment brings disaster upon his or her head.
This is a profession that is despicable and noble, banal and sacred,
profound, all depending on the conscience, character and values of the
journalist. The truly professional journalist will choose the noble, sacred,
profound and perilous, and remain aloof from the despicable, mundane,
But there is no chasm, wall or pathway that demarcates the despicable from
or the banal from the sacred; all of this is left to the journalist to
journalist who takes the pathway of darkness will be nailed to history's
shame, his own words used as indelible evidence against him. "Debasement
password of the base, Nobility the epitaph of the noble." 1 This mordant
much in vogue in the journalistic profession, can make a journalist veer
road of dishonor unless he forges on toward heroic self-sacrifice. This
is my understanding of conscience and integrity in journalism. Insisting
on being a journalist with conscience and integrity carries risks. When
giving a lecture to a class of journalism students, I passed along a tip for
avoiding danger: "Ask for nothing and fear nothing, and position yourself
heaven and earth." By asking for nothing I mean not hoping for promotion
by fearing nothing I mean examining one's own behavior and not exposing a
for anyone to grab. Don't rely on the powerful, but rather on your own
professional independence. These three methods greatly reduce risk. Since
China embarked on Reform and Opening, many journalists of conscience and
integrity have emerged. In the face of enormous impediments they've
truth, chastised evil and moved Chinese society forward. They aren't
ceremony tonight, but they should share in its honor.
I've retired now and can no longer work as a journalist, so I write
as a "journalist of past events." Yesterday's news is today's history.
What news and
history have in common is that both must be true and credible. Credibility
lifeblood of both news and history. China's historians have always put an
on the ethics of history: fidelity to unvarnished historical fact, both
negative. Every age has included historians who consider it their
provide an honest record, and who consider distortion a disgrace. Many
have preserved their moral integrity at the cost of their lives.
Influenced by the
spirit of China's historians, I've recorded major events that I
experienced: the Great Famine, the Cultural Revolution, Reform and
Opening. We must
remember not only the good things, but also the bad; not only the
also the darkness. I want people to remember man-made disaster, darkness
and evil so
they will distance themselves from man-made disaster, darkness and evil
from now on.
My book Tombstone recorded a horrific man-made disaster that lasted for
years. Although it could only be published in Hong Kong and remains banned
truth-loving people have found various means and channels to distribute it
throughout mainland China. Pirated editions of Tombstone are being sold
hinterlands of the Central Plains to the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau to the
frontier. I've received letters from readers all over China expressing
and unwavering support. This shows the power of truth to break through the
walls and iron ramparts constructed by the government.
Fact is a powerful bomb that blasts lies to smithereens. Fact is a beacon
night that lights the road of progress. Fact is the touchstone of truth;
be no truth without facts.
Journalists are the recorders, excavators and defenders of truth. Finally
I would like to join with all of you in this prayer for the journalistic
profession: May the sunlight of conscience and integrity shine upon the
desks of all
journalists and writers. May more works be published that awaken the
humanity and allow the light of justice to shine on every corner of the
Translated by Stacy Mosher
1This line is from the poem "The Answer" by Bei Dao, translated by
McDougall from The August Sleepwalker. Bei Dao wrote the poem while
the 1976 Tiananmen demonstrations.