Press Censorship in China

 State control and sensitive news



8th September
2011
  

Off the Rails...


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Beijing takes control of two newspapers in apparent response to embarrassment over unsafe trains

beijing timesThe Beijing propaganda bureau has taken control of two city newspapers known for bold reporting.

Some journalists blamed the development on official anger at the reporting of the fatal high-speed train crash in Wenzhou in July, although others believe it reflects a broader struggle over control of the media.

It means there will be so much we can't do, an employee of one of the affected titles said. [Before] there was news that other papers couldn't do but we could.

Previously, the papers were overseen by state level propaganda authorities. Journalists fear the switch may also restrict their ability to cover events in the capital and sensitive news from other areas.

It's been a headache for the Beijing propaganda authorities that they didn't directly control the two newspapers, Wen Yunchao, a Hong Kong-based media analyst, told the South China Morning Post: They could only influence editorial content through the help of the central publicity department.

 

15th November
2011
  

Update: Unverifiable Sources...

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China lays out new restrictions on journalists using unverified news sources

  China flagChina's press censors at the General Administration of Press and Publication have released new restrictions on journalism.

Some regulations simply reiterate journalistic best practices, others introduce new restrictions:

Reporters are required to be objective and report all sides of a story. They are prohibited from aggregating reports or relying on second-hand accounts that have not been independently verified, in particular information obtained from online sources, outside contributors, or by phone. News organizations must set up systems to guard against the publication of false reports and strengthen responsibility at all levels and through every stage of the editorial process, including the establishment of procedures to investigate errors and publish corrections and apologies.

The rules state that journalists should rely on in-person interviews, authoritative sources of information, and verifiable facts in their reporting. Critical news reports must be based on information from at least two different sources, and journalists must retain evidence of the information that has been received and verified. The use of anonymous sources is discouraged, with limited exceptions for national security, privacy or other special reasons, and reporters are cautioned against describing anonymous sources with phrases such as a person familiar with the matter, a person involved in the matter, or an authoritative person. Likewise, the use of pen names is barred, and reporters and editors involved in a story must sign their real names to it.

Crucially, the rules also reiterate that reporters must be licensed by and warns news organizations against hiring reporters on a temporary basis, eg freelancers and temps.

 

17th February
2012

 Offsite Article: Press Censors Claim they are Not Censors, Just Misunderstood...

Chinese propaganda machine tries to win over foreign journalists and to play down the repression

See article from vancouversun.com

 

 Updated: A Brave Protest...

Chinese newspaper staff write open letters protesting against an editorial being censored


Link Here 10th January 2013  full story: Press Censorship in China...State control and sensitive news

southern weeklyJournalists at a leading Chinese newspaper have called for a chief newspaper censor to resign, in a rare protest against censorship.

Prominent former staff and interns at the Southern Weekly urged the official to quit after he changed an editorial into a Communist Party tribute. They accused him of being dictatorial in an era of growing openness .

The row at the Southern Weekly - known for hard-hitting investigations and testing the limits of censorship - erupted after a new year editorial calling for guaranteed constitutional rights was changed at the last minute to one extolling the virtues of the Communist Party.

In two open letters, 35 prominent former staff and 50 interns at the paper have demanded the resignation of the provincial propaganda chief in Guangdong, Tuo Zhen.

BBCChinese.com editor Zhuang Chen says it is thought to be the first time there has been a direct showdown between newspaper staff and party officials.

The row comes as the website of another liberal journal was closed after it ran an essay urging political reform. The influential online magazine, Yanhuang Chunqiu (or China Through the Ages), had called on China's leaders to guarantee constitutional rights such as freedom of speech and assembly.

Update: Street Protest

8th January 2013. See  article from  guardian.co.uk

Hundreds of protesters gathered in front of the headquarters of a southern newspaper on Monday in a rare display of public anger over China's draconian censorship regulations. Many held signs calling for greater press freedom and expressing support for the newspaper's editorial employees, some of whom have gone on strike against the provincial propaganda authority's interference with a recent editorial.

Widely circulated pictures on microblogs show large groups of young people holding up handwritten anti-censorship messages and grappling with police.

This incident could mark the first time in more than two decades that the editorial staff of a major newspaper have openly staged a strike against government censorship, reported the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post.

Update: Truce

10th January 2013. See  article from  bbc.co.uk

Reports from China suggest journalists at a newspaper embroiled in a censorship row are returning to work after an agreement was reached.

Staff at Southern Weekly had demanded that a top censor and propaganda chief step down after a New Year message was changed.

On Tuesday, editorial propaganda from the state-run Global Times blamed the incident on activists outside the media industry was republished on multiple news sites - the result, according to reports, of a government directive. But several major news portals carried a disclaimer saying they did not endorse the piece and a number of newspapers did not run it, in an apparent show of solidarity.

Reports citing sources both from the paper's staff and people close them said a deal to end the dispute was agreed on Tuesday evening. Thursday's edition would be published as normal and most staff would not be punished, Reuters reported.

However, online reports citing microblogs suggest the row may have widened to include a well-known daily, Beijing News.

Unconfirmed reports said its chief editor, Dai Zigeng, had resigned over pressure to publish the Global Times editorial.

Update: Jailed

27th November 2015. See  article from voanews.com

China has sentenced three human rights activists to harsh prison terms for participating in an anti-censorship protest in 2013. The attorney for the three, Zhang Lei, told VOA that he is shocked and angered by the verdict, which gave a sentence of six years to activist Guo Feixiong.

Activists Liu Yuandong and Sun Desheng were sentenced to three years and 2 years, respectively, for participating in the same demonstration.

The three were charged with gathering crowds to disturb social order and Guo received the additional charge of picking quarrels and provoking trouble. Both charges are often used broadly against dissidents.

The protest they took part in was a weeklong peaceful demonstration in 2013 outside the headquarters of the Southern Weekly newspaper. The demonstrators called on Beijing to give up censorship practices that affected the paper.

Zhang said he will be filing appeals for all three of his clients.

 

 Update: Foreign to Free Speech...

Chinese news censors ban the reporting of information from foreign news sources


Link Here 18th April 2013  full story: Press Censorship in China...State control and sensitive news

sarft logoReporters Without Borders has condemned the draconian directive that China's news censor, the General Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television, issued yesterday banning the Chinese media from using unauthorized information from foreign media and websites. Reporters Without Borders said:

The censors have had the foreign media in their sights ever since they published embarrassing revelations about China's leaders. The regime is trying to prevent the Chinese media from repeating such revelations.

The international media continue to play a key role both in informing the international community about what is happening in China, and in informing the Chinese public, which is the victim of the government's growing censorship of the local media.

According to the directive:

All kinds of media work units may not use any unauthorized news products provided by the foreign media or foreign websites. They are also forbidden to use information provided by news informants, freelancers, NGOs or commercial organisations without prior verification.

 

  Vulgar Accusations...

Chinese newspaper banned for sexy pictures in its celebrity news


Link Here 6th July 2013  full story: Press Censorship in China...State control and sensitive news

blue express dailyThe Blue Express Daily (Lan Se Kuai Bao) in Yantai city, Shandong province has been banned from publishing in the next three months because it was running supposedly vulgar content, according to its editors.

The daily, which started publishing on July 17 last year, employs more than 300 people and has a circulation of 60,000, said Editor-in-Chief Han Hao. Han said he would be negotiating with provincial publishing authorities to bring the paper back, but he believed officials would have final say on the fate of the publication.

Han told the South China Morning Post that he believed a local competitor had gone to authorities and attacked the paper for running inappropriate pictures of pretty women, which Han said were celebrity photos that appeared in the entertainment news.

The paper published a front page letter for its final issue. Although the letter doesn't explain why the paper is being shut down, Qu Quancheng, a deputy editor at the daily, cited vulgar content as a major reason that has lead to the censorship. Vulgar content , a made-up accusation, has taken down a newspaper, he wrote on Weibo. A new page in China's journalism and history has been turned.

 

 Update: Sloganism...

Chinese journalists sent to propaganda school


Link Here 19th January 2014  full story: Press Censorship in China...State control and sensitive news
sl500 aa300 The Chinese government has intensified its control over the country's news media since Xi Jinping became president in March last year, reports the Washington Post.

Its domestic journalists risk getting fired and even jailed for their work. Censorship has been stepped up. And new restrictions require them to seek permission before meeting foreign reporters and business people. Chinese journalism schools have been told that a provincial propaganda official will be appointed in a senior management role at every institution.

In addition, Chinese reporters have been forced to attend ideological training meant to impart the 'Marxist view' of journalism and to pass a multiple-choice examination on their knowledge of the Communist Party's myriad slogans.

It seems that the Beijing government is alarmed about the growing impact of social media and the way in which critical stories can spread around in an instant. Xi, in a speech last August, said:

We have to make sure the front of the internet is firmly controlled by people who are loyal to Marxism, loyal to the party and loyal to the people.

 

 Update: A Happy World...

Bloggers note effective Chinese censorship of the terrorist station attack


Link Here 8th March 2014  full story: Press Censorship in China...State control and sensitive news
China flag After last week's knife attack on Chinese people in Kunming by muslim terrorists, in which 29 people were hacked to death, the state council information office issued the following directive:

Media that report on the knife attack incident that occurred March 1 at the Kunming railway station must strictly adhere to Xinhua News Agency wire copy or information provided by local authorities.

Do not treat the story with large headlines; do not publish grisly photos. Please respond to confirm that you have received this message. Thank you.

The censorship seems to have been effective and this was noted by Chinese microbloggers. Ye Taijin wrote:

It is as if nothing happened in Kunming. If we didn't have Weibo and WeChat, we would still be living in a happy world like the one presented on the evening new on China Central Television.

 

 Update: Unapproved Criticism...

China announces new laws to restrict journalism


Link Here 23rd June 2014  full story: Press Censorship in China...State control and sensitive news
China flag China has introduced new rules to restrict journalism. The rules say that journalists and their news organizations are forbidden from initiating critical reporting that has not been approved.

The new rules also prohibit a host of other journalistic activities. Reporters may not do reporting across industries or focus areas . News outlets are forbidden from establishing businesses in advertising, publishing or public relations. And they can't even circulate critical documents internally or on private websites. +

The government rules seem related to recent announcement that over 14,000 press cards had been revoked for supposedly bogus journalists. The measures also appear designed to address corruption scandals involving news outlets found to be practicing black PR, obtaining profits through paid-for content.

Update: More restrictions

17th July 2014. See  article from  cpj.org

The government had just announced that month that reporters were not allowed to report anything, even on their own blogs and social media sites , that had not been approved by an editor at their news organization. The announcement was aimed at heading off enterprising--and increasingly frustrated--reporters who would often release directly to their own readers information that had not survived their publications' editing and censorship processes.

 

 Update: Propaganda Credentials...

China issues first permission for original online news content


Link Here 10th November 2015  full story: Press Censorship in China...State control and sensitive news
China flagChina has issued its first press credentials allowing reporters to post state approved 'news' stories on websites.

The state-run Xinhua 'news' agency reports that China granted its first press credentials to online media just last week, adding:

China previously banned most websites from reporting on news, only allowing them to edit and publish news from traditional media.

Online-media reporters are expected to actively expound socialist core values and amplify the mainstream voice in the Internet, making cyberspace 'clear and bright.

That may have been the law, but it was hardly true in practice. Online-only news portals like Sina and Sohu have been reporting news for years, let alone the numerous bloggers and citizen journalists throughout the country. In theory anyone writing original news content, doing interviews, or publishing is technically breaking the law.

The first group of officially-credentialed agencies included the People's Daily, the government portal for Tibet, and Xinhua News Agency itself. So far, the only groups issued state permits to report are... state-run media agencies. No commercial (i.e. not state-run) news portals have yet been issued online press credentials.

 

 Offsite Article: Chinese magazine challenges government over censorship...


Link Here 9th March 2016  full story: Press Censorship in China...State control and sensitive news
caixin notes chinese censorship One of China's most respected current affairs magazines has lashed out at Communist party censorship of its work

See article from theguardian.com

 

 Offsite Article: Censor grab on land grab protest...


Link Here 16th September 2016  full story: Press Censorship in China...State control and sensitive news
wukan This week, Chinese police carried out a vicious crackdown on demonstrators in the southern Chinese fishing village of Wukan, now the authorities are trying to censor news about the protest

See article from qz.com

 

 Update: Playing down democracy...

Chinese news censors demand minimal coverage of US elections but outlets told to dwell on any juicy scandals that crop up


Link Here 10th November 2016  full story: Press Censorship in China...State control and sensitive news
trump victoryChina's news censors ordered digital news media and other news outlets on the mainland to avoid excessive coverage of the US presidential election.

According to the South China Morning Post (SCMP), a source said Chinese censors had urged all media houses in the state to not provide any live coverage or broadcast of the poll -- the world's biggest news event of the day.

However, the media were reportedly asked not to miss out on any scandals during the vote and report them in a timely manner . The censors also allowed news media to criticise in depth political abuses in the election, said a source, who did not want to be named because the instructions were confidential.

 

 Update: Western subversion blocked...

Chinese Government orders the censorship of the New York Times Apple app


Link Here 5th January 2017  full story: Press Censorship in China...State control and sensitive news
new york times logo On December 23, Apple removed the Chinese versions of the newspaper's apps as well as their English counterparts in an act of compliance with a censorship order from the Chinese government.

An Apple spokesperson Fred Sainz issued this statement to TechCrunch:

For some time now the New York Times app has not been permitted to display content to most users in China and we have been informed that the app is in violation of local regulations. As a result, the app must be taken down off the China App Store.

Though it's hardly alone in reporting critically on the Chinese government, the New York Times did publish a critical look at a " a seven-and-a-half-minute phantasmagoria of the Communist Party's nightmares of Western subversion " one day prior to when the apps were pulled.

 


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