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News Reporting is a Matter of Politics, Says a Communist Party Directive

An internal government document reveals the CCP’s strategy of media control and its emphasis on propaganda.

In November 2006, the propaganda department of a county Communist Party committee issued a directive on media controls. The directive affirms that news reporting is a matter of politics. "Media is the mouthpiece of the Party. "The Party should carefully guide public opinion by following "the principle of enhancing positive publicity, blocking negative reports, and handling sensitive reports with caution." The directive calls for implementation of a mechanism of censorship so that "no person shall collect and publish news reports on problems and hot issues without the approval of the County Committee’s Propaganda Department." Topics banned from news reporting include disparity of income, lawsuits against the Party and the authorities, embezzlement and anything that will "bring instability to our society." News reporting of international events must be consistent with that of the central government. Violators will be publicly reprimanded.

On November 27, 2006, the Propaganda Department of the Shaya County Communist Party Committee issued a directive entitled "Certain Measures on Tightening Up Media Propaganda Work Discipline."

The directive has since been posted on websites for senior assistants to Party leaders as a good writing sample.[1]

Shaya County is located in the Aksu Prefecture, south Xinjiang Autonomous Region, within the jurisdiction of Aksu Prefecture authorities. [2] Its Party propaganda department is under the Aksu Prefecture Communist Party Committee.[3]

The full text translation of the directive is as follows:[4]

Title: Certain Measures on Tightening up Media Propaganda Work Discipline

"News and propaganda work is political, carries enormous responsibility and is highly challenging. In our news and propaganda work, we should always uphold unity and stability, while encouraging a positive propaganda approach. We should firmly control the correct guidance of public opinion, maintain awareness of the overall interests and focus on uplifting spirit, boosting morale, unity, cohesion of power, and jointly establishing and maintaining Shaya’s public image. Following the principle of ‘enhancing positive publicity, blocking negative reports, and handling sensitive reports with caution,’ and to further tighten up news and propaganda work discipline, our county hereby issues the following regulations after research done by the Shaya County Committee Propaganda Department:

    "1. The news and propaganda staff shall strengthen their political ideas [i.e. follow the Party line], professionalism, morality and civility. From the perspectives of politics, righteous trends, overall interests, discipline and civility, such staff shall correctly understand the seriousness of news and propaganda work, eliminate negative news reports and consciously safeguard Shaya’s overall public image.{mospagebreak}

    "2. Institutionalize a mechanism to review, examine, and approve news reports to prevent capricious reporting. No person shall collect and publish news reports on problems and hot issues without the approval of the County Party Committee’s Propaganda Department.

    "3. Implement a news reporting system for newsgathering. When media from various units come to interview, particularly media units from higher levels coming to investigate, we should not just inspect their press cards and other relevant documents but also provide a warm reception. The first person contacted must report the soonest to the leaders of the County Party Committee’s Propaganda Department so that a proper preparation may be made in a timely manner.

    "4. Correctly treat and handle the monitoring function of the media. Must take seriously the interviews from the media and approach them appropriately…. Guide interviewers in recognizing the totality of the facts to change their perspective for the interviews so that the interviews will be conducted in the right direction.

    "5. Provide responses according to the Party line as approved by the upper level leaders, when the issues are related to overall, sensitive matters, and major events. When in doubt, consult [upper level leaders] in a timely manner.

    "6. Publicly reprimand those who fail to report promptly or warmly receive the public, behave rudely, and use inappropriate methods, which results in negative reports. Written self-criticism shall be required of such persons."

A Shaya County’s regulations on news and propaganda is attached at the end of the directive (see below).


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Lily Qu is a correspondent for Chinascope.{mospagebreak}

Shaya County’s 30 Disciplinary Regulations on News and Propaganda

Shaya County Chinese Communist Propaganda Department

November 27, 2006

1. Exercise extreme caution when reporting on the reform of rural taxes and fees;

2. Exercise caution when reporting on college student loans;

3. Exercise caution when reporting on damage to human heritage and resources;

4. Exercise caution when reporting on animal epidemics;

5. Exercise caution when reporting on major catastrophes and accidents;

6. Absolutely ban the vulgar reporting typical of some media, tighten up control of tabloids and do not meet the low taste of readers;

7. Do not report on shocking violence;

8. Media reporting on international issues must be consistent with the position of the government. No reporting directly from online news;

9. Exercise caution when reporting on private entrepreneurs joining the Communist Party;

10. Do not report on lawsuits where the Party committees and government departments are defendants;

11. Strictly control any reports on examples of private businesses. Pay attention to providing guidance;

12. There shall be no media reports advocating private ownership;

13. Do not report on the polarization of the rich and poor;

14. Do not report on the embezzlement of donations to the Hope Project;

15. Resolutely stop the practice of paid news reporting;{mospagebreak}

16. Do not say media is the fourth power and reporters are uncrowned kings. Emphasize that the media is the mouthpiece of the Party;

17. Do not report that certain enterprises are not doing well after China joined the WTO. Report events that can boost our spirits;

18. News media shall not arbitrarily create hot topics and bring instability to our society;

19. Report accurately the college entrance exam results. Do not speculate or exaggerate. Do not hype the winners of such exams;

20. Do not report that our country eats the meat of dogs that are raised in western countries. It is because dogs are raised as pets in some countries. Such a report, if published, may offend them;

21. Absolutely ban false news;

22. No arbitrary publishing of articles with wrong viewpoints;

23. Exercise caution when reporting on reforms in news, publishing, and radio/film/TV broadcasting. Must comply with relevant regulations;

24. No publicity of incorrect views on newspaper publishing such as private investment in media and the so-called "media companies going public," etc.;

25. Do not publicize negative reports;

26. Exercise caution when reporting on banking and the financial industry;

27. Do not report pornography and murders (such as the eight vicious killings in Kaifeng City. The report was prohibited but still some media wanted to report it.);

28. Do not publicize private investigators;

29. Keep close control of advertising;

30. Exercise extreme caution when reporting on ethnic issues and, religious beliefs.