The Chinese Propaganda Department has required Chinese journalists to train for six months on how to “eradicate false news, improve the feeling of social responsibility and reinforce journalistic ethics,” Reporters without Borders reported.
According to China Digital Times, the Propaganda Dept. is a political body that “ensures that media and cultural content follows the official line as mandated by the” Chinese Communist Party.
The campaign was announced Jan. 26. iMediaEthics sending out emails to find out details about the curriculum.
Monsters and Critics reported that People’s Daily called on the media to “show greater responsibility in guarding against manipulations of public issues on the internet.” People’s Daily is a state-run newspaper and “the official newspaper of the Communist Party of China.”
Chinese Journalists’ Association’s Zhai Huisheng backed the training and noted that “the government was forced to refute about 20 reports on major issues related to China’s ‘national situation and people’s lives’ in the last three months.”
Reporters without Borders described the training as “In short, to make journalists themselves actors in censorship.”
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“The Propaganda Department shows itself to be ever more inventive in working out new directives to put pressure on journalists,” Reporters without Borders said in its report. “This training takes the form of banning among journalists any critical spirit and making out of them state employees in the service of state ideology.”
China Media Project’s David Bandurski explained that “it is often difficult to tell which articles are ‘fake news,’ which are officially sanctioned falsehoods, and which are fake ‘fake news,’ branded as such by government officials who have an active interest in suppressing the truth.”
Reporters without Borders went on to describe the Chinese government’s “false news” as “abusive.” Reporters without Borders highlighted several cases in which journalists were reportedly fired, fined and forced to quit.
- Long Can, fired during accusations of reporting “false news.” Long had reported authorities ignoring university appeals, according to Reporters without Borders.
- Zhang Feng was fined amidst the claims
- Zeng Xi was fired from his position as executive editor.
- Jiang Quanhong lost his position as editor
- Wang Qi and Chen Shuping were fined.
- Chang Ping was “forced to quit” after not consenting to changes in his work.
In mid-January, Reporters without Borders published the Chinese propaganda department’s “directives to the media.”
iMediaEthics recently wrote about Shanghai Daily’s list of ten top fake news stories from the Chinese media in 2010.