Chinese citizens seem to be way ahead of Americans when it comes to investigating their government’s shenanigans. A New York Times article published February 25 lays out the story:
A man died in police custody. Chinese authorities claimed it was an accident. Thousands of Chinese Internet users speculated that the man had died from a police beating. Instead of suppressing the web postings, as is frequently done, provincial authorities took an unusual and seemingly reformist stance, inviting members of the public to volunteer for a committee to investigate the incident.
The public did them one better. Web users investigated the identities of the “volunteers” who were “randomly” selected by the government, and found that nearly all were current or former employees of state-run media—that is, it was a probable fix. In response, more than 70,000 postings, many of them critical of the government, went up on one of China’s most popular bulletin boards.
Can we Americans learn something about citizen journalism and participation from this?