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Censorship in China

‘Sing for the new era’: Chinese journalists told to spread the word on Xi Jinping’s ideology

Authorities underline reporters’ propaganda role on Journalists’ Day as Beijing tightens its grip on news and media

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 08 November, 2017, 4:39pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 09 November, 2017, 10:31am

China has marked Journalists’ Day by reminding its 228,000 reporters of their duties as propaganda workers and to promote the country’s achievements in its “new era”, a centrepiece of President Xi Jinping’s national ideology.

The call on Wednesday came just weeks after the Communist Party’s national congress and as Beijing continues to tighten its grip over news production.

China was ranked 176 out of 180 countries in this year’s World Press Freedom Index published by advocacy group Reporters Without Borders.

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The party has embarked a massive propaganda campaign since the congress, and state media are expected to play a key role in publicising Xi’s new ideology, accomplishments and policy goals.

Official news agency Xinhua said Chinese journalists were the “witnesses of the great times” and encouraged them to “sing for the new era”.

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A number of state media veterans have climbed the political ladder, going on to become censors and state leaders.

Politburo member Wang Chen started his career as a reporter at party newspaper Guangming Daily and later became head of the State Council Information Office, which makes official statements and organises press conferences.

Propaganda department deputy chief and hardline censor Tuo Zhen used to be an editor at Economic Daily.

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And retired ideology tsar Liu Yunshan covered agriculture for Xinhua’s Inner Mongolia bureau.

Chief editors of top state and party mouthpieces are often members the Central Committee, the party’s largest leadership body.

Only accredited journalists are allowed to report on the mainland, and they are regulated by the state-run All-China Journalists Association. The association said China had 228,327 journalists, with more than half of them working for official broadcasters.

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Beijing has tightened control over news since Xi took power in 2012, stepping up party oversight of state media, while making it harder for private companies and individuals to produce original content.

In March, the association amended a charter for mainland journalists to make support for Xi’s “core” status in Chinese leadership one of its principles.

The charter also included a new clause ordering reporters to help the international community develop a “more objective” understanding of China.