Protection of journalists' rights stressed

08:02, August 02, 2010      

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The country's top administration for press and publication has stressed the protection of reporters' rights in newsgathering, following a string of suspected attacks against journalists who exposed scandals.

"Media organizations have the right to know, interview, publish, criticize and supervise issues related to national and public interests," the General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP) said in a statement on its website over the weekend.

"Normal and legal newsgathering activities by media organizations and their reporters and editors are protected by law," the GAPP said.

The administration said it will conduct special inspections across the country in the second half of this year and will require local press and publication departments to better protect the legal rights of local media organizations. The inspections will check the implementation of two regulations issued by the administration last year - the management of local bureaus of newspapers and periodicals, and the management of press cards.

In 2007 and 2008, the administration issued two circulars to urge related government authorities to offer help and necessary protection to legal newsgathering activities.

The circulars also made it clear that any disturbance or obstruction of reporters' rights is prohibited.

The GAPP latest move came after the case of a business reporter who was wrongly accused by a local public security bureau in Zhejiang province.

Qiu Ziming, a journalist with the Beijing-based Economic Observer, a business weekly, was on a national online list of criminals wanted by the public security bureau of Zhejiang's Suichang county from July 23 to 30. Qiu's previous reports exposing suspected insider trading in a listed company in the region were accused of "containing false information" and "having damaged the company's reputation", Wang Shengzhong, editor-in-chief of the weekly, told China Daily last Wednesday.

After the case received widespread attention from both the media and the public, the county public security bureau removed Qiu from the wanted list on Friday. Local publicity and public security officials arrived in Beijing the same day to apologize to Qiu.

In another case, four men who were allegedly from the Bawang Group broke into the Shanghai office of the National Business Daily on Friday afternoon. The four reportedly pushed and shoved reporters in the office.

The paper said in a statement that its negative reports on Bawang's shampoo products might have led to the attack.

Bawang said on Friday night that one of its marketing officers, surnamed Hong, went to the National Business Daily with two friends "to obtain information because they had some different opinions of the paper's reports on Bawang's products". They were chatting with an employee of the paper before a number of other people from the paper rushed to the reception room to attack them verbally. Quarrels and jostling reportedly ensued.

On Friday, the China Times also said in a statement that one of its female reporters, Chen Xiaoying, was beaten by a man allegedly from listed company Shenzhen International Enterprise Co Ltd. Chen had reportedly written a recent "negative report" on the company.

But Shenzhen International Enterprise denied it had anything to do with the attack, saying it had filed a lawyer's letter to the China Times about its "untrue report" on the company on July 16.

Fan Yijin, chairman of the Guangdong Journalists Association and dean of the journalism and communication department at Guangzhou-based Jinan University, said the latest cases showed how a number of local authorities and people ignored regulations from the central government to "treat, and manage media organizations well".

"The idea is clear, but some people often suppressed the media and they did it for certain interests or interest groups," Fan told reporters.

By Wang Yan, China Daily


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