Saturday, November 12, 2011

China reins in journalists

The Chinese government is at it again.

The New York Times reports that the government, unhappy with the perception that journalists and bloggers in that country are acting with too much freedom, is setting up restrictions on what those people can do.
In a statement posted on its Web site on Thursday, the General Administration of Press and Publication barred reporters from directly including unverified information from the Internet or mobile telephone messages in news articles.
The new rules also require journalists to produce at least two sources for any “critical” news reports and to personally conduct interviews when gathering information.
False reports must be followed by corrections and apologies, the statement said, and serious violations could lead to the suspension or even the revocation of a news outlet’s government-issued license.
“False reports not only seriously hurt the interests of the parties involved, but also seriously undermine the credibility of the news media, or even seriously affect the social and economic order,” the agency stated in a question-and-answer article released by the state news agency Xinhua.
Since 2010, the press administration said, more than one in five of its investigations of “illegal news publishing” involved false reports.
The Washington Post's headline leaves little doubt what it thinks of the new policies. And the Associated Press couldn't resist its own jab at the government.
The regulations, dated last month but posted on Friday on the state press administration's website, ban journalists from reporting any information taken from the internet or mobile phones without firsthand verification. The regulations say reporters or editors may be barred from working in the media for five years as a penalty.
The rules are the latest attempt by the authoritarian government to reassert control over the flow of information that is being challenged by the popularity of social media.
Just a week before these restrictions were made public, Xinhua reported the government urged all journalists to remember to put the people ahead of anything they do.
Chinese journalists have been urged by a senior official of the Communist Party of China (CPC) to improve their work by "voicing the heartfelt wishes of the masses and always putting the people first."

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