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Censorship official to be dean of journalism

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 04 March, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 04 March, 2012, 12:00am


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A ministerial-level official in charge of media censorship has been appointed as dean of one of the most prestigious journalism schools on the mainland, prompting concerns that journalism classes will become more subject to Communist Party control.

Liu Binjie, chief of the General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP), took over as head of Tsinghua University's School of Journalism and Communication, according to Professor Cui Baoguo, vice-dean of the school.

Cui said that Liu, as a media-management official, could help bridge the gap between journalism education and changing trends in the media. The appointment is scheduled to take place at a private ceremony this afternoon.

'His ideology on media development is relatively open and international, which has been widely recognised among teachers and students,' Cui said.

As he will retain his GAPP position, Liu will be a part-time dean, but the exact details of his responsibilities were not immediately made clear.

Media officials taking up posts at journalism schools on the mainland began in the mid-1990s and expanded to the capital in the early 2000s, said Zhang Zhian, an associate journalism professor at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou.

The position at Tsinghua has been vacant since the former dean, Fan Jingyi, died of gall bladder cancer on November 13.

Fan, a former editor-in-chief of the official People's Daily, took up the post in April 2002.

Liu, 53, a native of Changwu county in Shaanxi province, was publicity minister of the Communist Youth League from 1985 to 1990, and became chief editor of the league's 21st Century magazine in the early 1990's.

He was named deputy chief of GAPP in 2002, then promoted in April 2007 to party secretary and chief of the administration.

Upon hearing of Liu's pending appointment, internet users voiced concerns the party would exert more influence on journalism education.

One internet user said it was ironic that an official in charge of media censorship was to become dean of a journalism school where students should be encouraged to nurture fundamental journalistic principles through free and independent thinking.

However, some media analysts said it was a logical move for media officials to direct journalism classes that cultivate the talent of those who will work for publications under the party's leadership.

Zhang said the appointment appeared to be a political sign emphasising that journalism teachings on the mainland are designed to cultivate reporters who serve the party.

'The move could also benefit universities in terms of resource distribution, including internship arrangements, job opportunities and research projects,' he said.