On January 3, People’s Daily published the results of a joint online survey by its social observation section (社会观察版) and People’s Daily Online showing that “87.9 percent of web users pay close attention to Web supervision [or using the internet to expose instances of injustice, etc.], and when they come across unfavorable things in society, 93.3 percent of web users choose to expose them on the Internet. The Internet has already become a convenient and effective method for conveying the public will, protecting people’s rights and interests and punishing corruption. 40.8 percent of web users believe that Web supervision lacks legitimacy and is merely a form of online violence.” An editorial in People’s Daily by Fu Dinggen (傅丁根) the same day argued that, “The significance of Web supervision lies in it provides a new driving mechanism for the fight against corruption, the regulation of society and the building of harmony.” . . . “While Web supervision is not a panacea, without Web supervision we would be absolutely powerless,” the article said. The special character of the Web was in making “Web censorship present everywhere at every time ….. and the public’s right to know, right to participate and right to express is in large part realized through the process of Web supervision.”
*The Law of Four Intersections in Journalism and Politics (新闻与政治四点交叉律)
In the first issue of News Frontline (新闻战线), former People’s Daily deputy editor-in-chief Liang Heng (梁衡) raised this concept, arguing that journalism and politics at their very base represent the aspirations of the masses. Both had a shared objective and purpose. Both had their own “selfish interests” (私利) in the form of “media interests” (媒体利益) and “group interests” (集团利益). In order to cooperate for the realization of the public will and the promotion of social progress, when news is in violation of the rules, then politics takes charge of it in the name of the people, utilizing the tool of state control. On the other hand, when politics is corrupt, journalism monitors power in the name of the people, performing the role of watchdog journalism . . . [Liang said that] “while 30 years ago journalism was the tool and servant of politics, today journalism is an ally and friend capable of direct admonition. This is a fundamental change in the relationship between politics and journalism over the past 30 years.”
*Accepting Red Envelopes is Illegal Behavior
The first issue of Rule of Law in News Broadcasting used laws and regulations governing journalism to address the “gag fee incident.” [Communications scholar] Zhan Jiang (展江) said that the acceptance of “red envelopes” has long been regarded as illegal behavior arising from ethical problems, and this problem has become more and more severe in [China’s] news media, developing from the acceptance of cash payments by individuals toward the brazen use of payoffs as a part of the media business. The article quoted the views of He Zengke (何增科), [a scholar] from the Compilation and Translation Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, who said that “the system in which institutional units in news publishing and radio and television combined official and commercial roles was the institutional root of various unwholesome tendencies in this sector.” . . . In the same issue, China National Radio’s Xu Mingwen (徐明文) revealed that in late 2007, the Central Party School’s Gongjian: A Research Report on Political Reform in China After the 17th National Congress said that, “Only with relative independence from party organs and government power could media truly carry out the responsibilities they should have.” Breaking through the official monopoly of the news industry and realizing the release of information through numerous channels, “and, moreover, the diversification of information channels would mean less likelihood of [information or media] being suppressed” [through payment, etc]. . . [NOTE: A bit more interesting stuff on the origins of media corruption follows here.]
*In 2009, the development of China’s radio and television industry becomes a top priority
The second issue of China Radio and Television Journal (中国广播电视学刊) published statements by Wang Taihua (王太华) at the national meeting of the State Administration of Radio Film and Television saying that [the development of] a public service structure for radio and television would enter state budget allocations. . . . Cooperation agreements would also be reached [said Wang] with the Ministry of Science and Technology for the building and implementing of the next-generation television and radio network, accelerating the digitizing of television and radio stations. [Wang] also emphasized that international radio stations would continue to push into Latin America, Central Asia and other areas . . . China Central Television would push strongly to enter fixed, wireless and and satellite platforms overseas with its international channels, as well as hotels, accelerating the transition from a primary focus on the domestic to a greater emphasis on the international dimension. China National Radio would continue to build its cooperative network of Chinese-language broadcasts across the globe. Peripheral provinces and regions, such as Xinjiang, Tibet, Inner Mongolia, Yunnan and Guangxi would accelerate [broadcast] penetration into neighboring countries . . .
*Business of foreign news wires in China changes to require approval by the Information Office [of the State Council]
[Specifics not translated here. Read Danwei.org interview with David Wolf.]
*Media Must Not Contribute to Crises of Confidence
On February 4, China Youth Daily published an article by Chen Fang arguing that “while it is very necessary for media and consumers to pay ever greater attention to the release of information on food safety, some media only run information about problems and faulty food products when re-running information, and make no attempt to comprehensively explain that these faulty products have already been dealt with according to the law. Biased selection of information by media and superficial reporting has created misunderstanding among consumers.” Chen said that “of course it was the responsibility of the media to put the interests of the public first and preserve public safety.” But “these sorts of reports must be comprehensive and not done selectively according to the interests of the reporter himself” . . .
*Reporting Rules for Hong Kong and Macau Journalists are Promulgated
On February 6, a rule issued by the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council said all Hong Kong and Macao journalists reporting inside mainland China must first obtain Hong Kong-Macao Reporting Cards (港澳记者采访证) at either the Hong Kong liaison office or the Macao liaison office. Hong Kong or Macao journalists reporting in the mainland must first obtain permission from the work unit or [company or government office] individual they intend to interview, and for the interview must carry along and show press credentials from the permanent office of their foreign media organization or their Hong Kong-Macao Reporting Card . . .
*The CCTV Tower catches fire
According to news reports, fire broke out at the new headquarters of China Central Television on February 9 and blazed for close to six hours, causing severe damage to the external structure of the project, which had already cost two billion yuan (and was listed as three billion on CCTV’s asset assessment). At 3:05pm on February 10, CCTV apologized via a news program for the loss of state assets resulting from the fire, and for the inconvenience caused to those living near the building. The Beijing City Fire Department determined that the fire was caused when the person responsible for construction of the building dared hire a crew to set off Class A fireworks in clear violation of city regulations. The city’s official Beijing Daily criticized CCTV in an editorial for ignoring regulations to “play with fire” . . .
*Still no budging on press cards for personnel at websites
On February 12, Southern Weekend ran an exclusive interview with Nong Tao (农涛), head of the the news periodicals division of the General Administration of Press and Publications revealing that [authorities] had not yet been relented on the issue of press cards for Web journalists because commercial websites were not yet qualified to issue [their own] news reports. News websites operated by traditional media can apply for press cards if these personnel are journalists for traditional media.
*New standardized press cards issued nationwide
Beginning February 25, the General Administration of Press and Publications issued standardized press cards for newspapers, periodicals, news agencies, radio stations, television stations and other news organizations nationwide in place [of the previous press cards]. Old press cards were all nullified as of July 1. On February 11, [the official] People’s Daily reported that added to the “issues attended to” by the new press cards was that “people’s governments at various levels must offer the necessary protections and convenience to news workers bearing these cards.” . . . A February 13 report in People’s Daily quoted an official from GAPP’s newspaper and periodicals office saying that “without good cause holders of public office may not decline interview requests.” The official also revealed that a database of news workers showing poor conduct was being compiled and improved . . .
*Officials must respect the rules of news and public opinion transmission
On March 1, Xi Jinping (习近平) demanded during a speech for the spring term at the Central Party School that leaders and cadres at all levels “raise their ability to work with news media, respecting the rules of news and public opinion transmission. Correctly channeling public opinion requires that [leaders] maintain close connections with news media and willingly accept supervision by public opinion [or press monitoring.” In the eleventh issue of Young Journalist (青年记者), [communication scholars] Chen Lidan (陈力丹) and Wang Jingwen (王晶文) revealed that Xi’s words had originally been: “[Officials] must raise their ability to work with news media, correctly controlling media, scientifically managing media, effectively channeling public opinion.” [The scholars] commented on the change represented in these words, saying that the change “in discourse from using the media and controlling the media to respecting the rules of news and public opinion transmission and accepting supervision by public opinion represented a conceptual change toward the news media.” On March 27, People’s Daily ran an editorial by Xu Qingchu (余清楚) . . . arguing that “reporting on sudden-breaking incidents means serving as the eyes, ears and throat; it means reaching a concrete unity between the interests of the party and the interests of the people. For government and relevant departments at various levels to work with the media, to make friends, this is something we need to accomplish our work, and it is the realization of the party spirit.” Writing in China Youth Daily on January 13, Chen Jieren (陈杰人) said that, “In the sphere of public service, the most important thing for propaganda offices is to enable the active role of the media, satisfying the public’s right to know, right to express, right to participate and right to monitor, providing the masses with information services . . . ” On February 4, [columnist] Yan Lieshan (鄢烈山) wrote in China News and Publishing that: “For those people who still wish to [enforce] ‘unity of message’ and stamp out diversity of voices (lit. ‘seven mouths and eight tongues’), the most common and effective method is to maintain strict power over the fates (命门) of those who would tell the truth (and that means principally their rice bowls and official caps), and to apply pressure and use intimidation, so that those who might speak out worry themselves over the consequences and swallow their own tongues. The method of snuffing out voices through ‘self-discipline’ is used to deal with leaders up above, to deal with foreign journalists, and to obstruct all channels of expression including the Internet. This has definitely proven effective, but of course it does not serve the interests of social progress or harmony.”
*China Football News stops publishing
On March 3, China Football News . . . announced that it would suspend publication after a 15 year history. This is a government organ-styled expert newspaper about sports. In the mid-1990s, its circulation reached as high as 400,000 copies and was regarded in the industry as the standard for “football reporting in China.”
*”Provisional Methods for a Responsibility System for Party and Government Leaders in Guangzhou”
On March 19, People’s Daily reported that *”Provisional Methods for a Responsibility System for Party and Government Leaders in Guangzhou,” to take effect on April 1, clearly stipulated that party and government leaders who do not accept or cooperate with intraparty monitoring, legal monitoring, democratic monitoring, supervision by public opinion and monitoring by the public should face responsibility . . . The same day, [Guangzhou’s] Yangcheng Evening News published a commentary by Pan Hongqi (潘洪其) called, “Giving Public Opinion the Courage to Monitor is More Important Than Official Cooperation.” The editorial argued that, “whether or not officials can accept and cooperate with public opinion monitoring is not of great importance; what is most important is whether or not media can confidently and unswervingly carry out monitoring of officials. Imagine that media can be bold in their monitoring, then it would be entirely possible for them to expose ‘refusal or non-cooperation’ by officials – this itself is a form of watchdog journalism.” “What watchdog journalism needs most urgently is not ‘acceptance’ or ‘cooperation’ by officials, but rather more robust institutional protections [for journalists] in order to safeguard these rights to expression, criticism and monitoring . . .
*”Guiding Opinions Concerning Further Promoting News and Publishing System Reforms”
On April 7, China News and Publishing reported that the “Opinions” issued by the General Administration of Press and Publications made clear four points of reform [of the news and publishing industry] for the future: 1. Promoting a transformation of the enterprise system for for-profit news organizations, with units [or news organizations] belonging to party or government organs de-coupling from their administrative sponsors (主办单位) and competent units (主管单位); 2. Promoting asset reorganization on the basis of enterprise system transformation, accelerating the development of backbone enterprises and strategic investors in media and publishing; 3. Guiding the healthy development of non-public sector publishing studios (出版工作室), fostering new and developing productive forces in publishing, encouraging and supporting the bringing of non-public sector publishing studios into the arena of policy legitimacy (鼓励和支持非公有出版工作室进入政策许可领域); 4. Expanding dialogue overseas, actively implementing the “going out” strategy, encouraging qualified publishing and media enterprises to launch periodicals, newspaper and other entities outside China. On April 19, [GAPP Director] Liu Binjie (柳斌杰) said on CCTV’s “Dialogue” program that “[media] enterprises going public now no longer had to separate their editorial and business sides, and [enterprises] like Liaoning Publishing Group were now listing their complete assets, including content, operations and advertising, so that there was no artificial split within the industry.” [He said that] “at the same time [China] needed to develop a set of withdrawal mechanisms enabling those news and publishing units that don’t emphasis their social responsibilities (不重视社会责任的新闻出版单位) to exit the market.” Liu said that in some countries in the West, mainstream media were controlled through a method of government shareholding and the government serving as an independent director. People’s Daily, Xinhua News Agency, China Central Television and other entities serving as principal agents of China’s image and China’s voice serve an important role in transmitting the public opinion of the nation. Reform is principally about turning them into public service media.
*”Notice Concerning Practical Measures to Combat Fake News Reports”
On April 17, The Beijing News reported that a “Notice” from the General Administration of Press and Publications had ordered newspapers and periodicals to strengthen their management of news content, taking practical steps to prevent the fake news reports from happening again. “Reporters who are found through inspection to have written fake or erroneous reports will be issued warnings and placed on a list of journalists with a record of poor conduct. In cases of serious violation [reporter’s] press credentials will be revoked, and will be prevented from working as journalists for a period of five years. In especially serious cases, journalists will be prevented for life from engaging in editorial work.” “News reports being re-run [from other sources] must first be checked for accuracy, and publishing units must establish and improve examination and management systems for re-running reports.” [The notice] also demanded that publishing units must establish and improve mechanisms for holding [journalists] accountable [for errors].
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*CCTV Sets Up Emergency Reporting Stations
On June 12, China News and Publishing News reported that China Central Television would set up emergency reporting stations (应急报道驻点) in eight cities including Beijing and Shanghai, to be operational that month. In the event that sudden-breaking events occurred, journalists from emergency reporting stations would be able to reach the scene within 4 to 6 hours to issue news reports. All stations were equipped with wireless video cameras, portable video cameras, editing stations and other audiovisual equipment in addition to small satellite broadcasting vehicles, maritime satellite terminals and other equipment for the transmission of information . . . .