Released this week, new procedures in China for the verification of journalism credentials will assess not just the “statutory license conditions” of news reporters – meaning their basic eligibility as employees of licensed media engaged in reporting work – but will also seek to determine whether they opened social media accounts as journalists “without permission,” or released other information about their work on the job.
The new verification rules, with assessments covering the period from December 2, 2019 to January 1, 2021, appear to be aimed at further reigning in the social media activity of working journalists by making approval for the “press cards” (记者证) necessary to legally conduct news reporting in China contingent on compliance online. The process of verification will proceed from January 20, 2021 to March 19, 2021.
The new rules were released earlier this week, on January 19, by China’s National Press and Publication Administration (NPAA), the office under the State Council charged with supervising the press and the publishing sector.
The section in the January 19 “Notice” under “compliance status” specifies the scope of verification as follows:
- Whether there are such problems as engagement in paid services, intermediary activities or part-time jobs related to the position of a reporter;
- Whether there are such problems as the establishing of or participating in advertising companies;
- Whether there are such problems as the opening of Weibo, WeChat and other private media as a reporter without authorization, and publishing information on conduct on the job without authorization;
- Whether [the person under assessment] participated in relevant training in accordance with regulations;
- Whether there are issues such as news extortion (新闻敲诈), paid-for news (有偿新闻), and other issues involving “using the media for personal gain” (以媒谋私) and fabricating or disseminating fake news (虚假新闻).