Muzzling the press or cleaning up?

There are three main entities that control media in China:

- The Publicity Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (formerly the Propaganda Department);
- State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT);
- The General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP).

According to Xinhua, the three venerable bodies have issued a set of regulations aimed at "maintaining justice, authenticity and objectivity in news reporting."

Xinhua's English website headlined the story thusly:

Rules issued to ensure fair journalism

The South China Morning Post called it this way:

Rules tighten the leash on reporters

Coming in the immediate wake of clampdowns on university Internet forums, it is natural to assume that the evil Nanny is on the rampage. But even as seen by the South China Morning Post story, most of the new regulations seem aimed at cleaning up corrupt journalistic practices such as taking bribes to under-report casualties in industrial accidents, or for getting paid to write about companies and products.

So is it the evil Nanny, or is the government really trying to introduce some ethical guidelines to Chinese reporters? Shanghainese blogger Bingfeng seems to think that the regulations are in fact intended to solve problems rather than evidence of a crackdown (in the post Media stories I experienced), but that the measures will not actually work.

Note: The South China Morning Post report concludes with the sentence: "The Ministry of Information Industry [which controls the Internet and telecommunications] has also banned the print media from using content posted in weblogs." Since Xinhua's website is not print media, they obviously are not going to get into trouble for plagiarizing from Danwei.

Xinhua: Rules issued to ensure fair journalism
South China Morning Post Rules tighten the leash on reporters (subscription required)

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