Hopes raised of accommodating attitude towards reporters

PUBLISHED : Friday, 16 April, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 16 April, 2010, 12:00am

A government announcement yesterday on the regulation of reporters at the Qinghai quake zone raised hopes that the 'open-mindedness' displayed by the country's propaganda machine following the Sichuan earthquake two years ago might be repeated.

A notice posted on the Qinghai government website said local authorities should co-operate as long as non-mainland reporters carried press passes issued by the relevant central government departments.

Local authorities would further 'help arrange accommodation and food, and line up interviews'.

Hua Qing, the deputy chief of the State Council Information Office news bureau, said: 'Although the conditions are very difficult and our resources limited, we will try our best to work with the concerned departments and local government to provide convenience and service to the media, including non-mainland media.'

After the Sichuan earthquake, the central government earned praise for being open to the media in a crisis situation, allowing both local and foreign media to work freely as long as they registered with the earthquake control centre in Chengdu .

However, the attitude changed towards the end of the second week when more and more schools were found to have collapsed while surrounding buildings stood intact.

As the mood of the public turned negative and charges of corruption flared, non-Sichuan media were recalled to their provinces, and foreign media were required to apply for a press card from every city they reported from.

The rules appear to be tighter now - non-Qinghai media have been told not to send reporters to the province.