Emphasizing positive news 正面报导为主

“Emphasizing positive news” has been a guiding principle of China’s Central Propaganda Department (中宣部) since at least 1984. At a February 1995 conference of editors in chief of provincial-level newspapers, propaganda minister Ding Guangen said: “By supporting unity and stability, emphasizing positive news and speaking with one voice, we have achieved success in setting examples, leading and encouraging [the people] (People’s Daily, February 27, 1995). Ji Bingxuan, a deputy propaganda minister, said: “The relationship between positive and negative news must be well-managed. We must always support the guiding principle, which is to encourage unity and stability by emphasizing positive news. This principle must be followed with news reports … China is so vast and diverse, its development so unequal. While some areas are advanced, others lag far behind. Our country’s social development is fraught with contradiction, and problems appear often in many places. Suppose problems arise in each of our more than 2,800 counties. How those problems are viewed, and how they are reported – that is a question that must be treated correctly … The influence of propaganda is extensive. Failing to carefully analyze [content], or allowing negative reports to become too numerous or careless, results not only an incomplete picture of events but misleads the public, who begin to imagine problems are piling up. Such a slide in social morale negatively impacts social stability, the consequences of which may be incalculable” (See”新闻宣传要把好关把好度”, Press Frontline (新闻战线), March 2004.)

David Bandurski

Now director of the CMP, leading the project’s research and partnerships, David joined the team in 2004 after completing his master’s degree at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. He is currently an honorary lecturer at the Journalism and Media Studies Centre. He is the author of Dragons in Diamond Village (Penguin/Melville House), a book of reportage about urbanization and social activism in China, and co-editor of Investigative Journalism in China (HKU Press).