About CCTV firework

A building in the new CCTV complex (CCTV — a central government-owned broadcaster, a near monopoly cross the country) was burned down in one of the Chinese New Year celebration nights. The huge-ball fire was directly caused by a firework mishap by CCTV itself. The building was designed to be a high-profile hotel (Mandarin Oriental Hotel) that was expected to operate later this year. The CCTV complex is a new Beijing landmark that was repeatedly shown on TV during the Olympics.

However, the news coverage is minimal. In fact, it is, as usual, artificially minimized by the government. I quote a report by Los Angeles Times below (a full report can be read here, also see Danwei.org for detailed accounts):  "By Tuesday morning, Beijing’s propaganda ministry had ordered all
Chinese news media to stop reporting their own versions of the fire
story and to use only the account provided by the official New China
News Agency. " Such a government order would be illegal in the United States (and in most countries with free media), but it is just a daily life for Chinese people — it’s not only legal but in fact represents the law in China (see here for more discussions by bloggers). You might immediately want to find out the rationale behind such knee-jerk news control by the Chinese government. Why citizens’s basic right of accessing information has to be suppressed? Why such a suppression is still implemented in this "modern" China? The answer is no less than obvious in principle, and in the mean time the answer is also technically complex (In China, things tend to be complex or mostly unexplainable). UPDATE: Forbes has an interesting report on this fire as well.

The direct cost is that media control blocks the entire journalism as a profession (see here for the Elements of Journalism). The pervasive cost to Chinese people is that media control intentionally produces unawareness and ignorance. In the end, what we have is an abusive government plus uninformed and irresponsible citizens.