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China’s media watchdog, General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP), on blacklisting journalists

Xinhua reported official policies announced by the General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP) where journalists cannot be blacklisted or blocked from reporting. China has over 7,000 papers and magazines in circulation, and this figure is hardly a surprise given the explosive growth in the last three decades in the country. GAPP, having oversight over news media, has absolutely made the right call. In 2008, China passed a very important transparency law (“Regulations of the People’s Republic of China on Open Government Information” (中华人民共和国政府信息公开条例)) requiring government departments to disclose certain information. (See my prior post, “China’s determined and long march towards rule of law.”) This assertion made by the GAPP will help foster a culture of timely government disclosure – as a way to combat rumors and disinformation as well in dealing with corruption. Note that the report also says that reporters who fabricate stories or blackmail will be punished.

BEIJING, June 27 (Xinhua) — China’s press watchdog said on Monday no organizations or individuals are allowed to block reporters from doing their jobs or blacklist them.

The General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP) made the statement in response to public discussions stirred by a health ministry media officer’s comments that the ministry will blacklist journalists who publish phony food-scare stories.

On June 13, Mao Qun’an, director of the publicity center of the health ministry, said at a conference that food safety reports were increasingly worrying the public, and that journalists who publish false stories that mislead the public will be blacklisted.

The GAPP statement also responded to the criticism from the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) relating to the “blacklist” remarks of the health ministry media officer.

An official with the GAPP said that media supervision plays an indispensable role in promoting democracy and civilization, and it also helps improve social management.

As to potentially flawed or erroneous reports, the GAPP called on government agencies and the public not to be too hard on reporters.

Rather, relevant government agencies should timely disclose correct information to the public, said the official.

The official cited the “rules on management of press card,” saying reporters’ lawful practices are protected by law, and governments at all levels and its functionaries should facilitate the work of reporters.

Additionally, the official said if reporters are involved in misconduct, such as fabrication or blackmail, the GAPP will mete out severe punishment.

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