Top Ten Fake News Stories from China

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A much circulated story claiming a girl was raped and impregnated at the World Expo turned out to be false. See above one of the pick-ups of the story. (Credit:

Shanghai Daily reported a list of ten top fake news stories out of Chinese media in 2010.

According to the Shanghai Daily story, government-funded news outlet Chinese Journalist tracked the sources of the ten stories and “concluded that reporters and editors from serious Chinese news media were increasingly failing in their duties as professional journalists to check the accuracy of stories before rushing into print or putting the tales on their websites.”

The top story — now known as false — claimed that a girl was raped and impregnated at the Shanghai World Expo.  According to the fake story, the girl was “trapped in a huge crowd trying to get a ticket to watch a performance by a South Korean boy band” in late May.  Police said the story was fake.

Another one of the ten examples of fake stories came from China News Agency.  The agency reported in May 2010 that the national disease control center claimed roughly “2.2 million youngsters” died annually “because of indoor pollution.”  The Health Ministry reportedly stated that it never issued that information.

See the top ten fake stories here.

According to a China Daily report, three Chinese associations have criticized the Chinese media.

The three associations — the China Central Committee’s Communist Party’s publicity department, the All-China Journalists’ Association and the General Administration of Press and Publication — listed two news outlets that published inaccurate stories as examples of the need for more “self-inspection and self-correction” by the Chinese media.

  1. China Newsweek magazine incorrectly reported that a martial arts novelist, Louis Cha, died.  After the story was revealed to be untrue, three journalists resigned.
  2. The newspaper Xiangfan Daily also published a fake story.  That story asserted that “50 packages of corn-flavored dairy beverage in the province were believed to contain melamine, a toxic industrial chemical.” However, the report has been challenged as “officials behind the drive” claimed the “tainted beverage” wasn’t from the Hubei province, as cited in the story.

China Daily cited Communication University of China journalism professor Liu Xiaoying’s comments on the fake stories.  Liu stated that journalists are making errors because of a “lack of professionalism and the pursuit of profit.”

See the whole China Daily story here.

Reporters without Borders on China’s Media “Directives”

Reporters without Borders reported Jan. 13 that China’s Propaganda Department issued a “series of directives to the media.” According to Reporters without Borders, the directives include banned reporting on:

  • “social and economic problems”
  • “major criminal affairs,
  • “the property market,
  • “rising prices,
  • “corruption,
  • “the demolition of housing and compulsory relocation,
  • “residence permits,
  • “the absence of social security,
  • “inadequate transport during the Chinese New Year and
  • “popular discontent”

In response, Reporters without Borders stated it was “shocked” and “worried.”

Changing Restrictions on Foreign Journalism

The BBC’s Peter Day recently wrote a report describing “China’s changing attitude to journalism.” Based on his experiences as a correspondent who first started his reports from China about 15 years ago, Day stated foreign journalists have an easier time now reporting.

Day explained that foreign journalists used to have to work with “imposing irritating requirements” from Chinese authorities.  Journalists first had to be “invited” to the area and then, when they arrived, they had to work with a “host.”

“In effect, you travelled with your own censor; while paying for their travel, meals and accommodation,” Day described.  However. those standards were “relaxed” for the 2008 Olympic Games hosted in China, which “made it worthwhile travelling into the countryside, dropping in on people at random.”

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Top Ten Fake News Stories from China

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