Traditional news media has duty to guard against Internet manipulation: People's Daily

08:08, January 31, 2011      

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Traditional news media should show greater responsibility in guarding against "manipulation" of public issues on the Internet, said a commentary carried by Sunday's People's Daily.

The article said traditional news media should stay clear-minded, strictly abide by professional ethics, and resist the temptations of sensationalism in face of misleading Internet postings.

The Internet had 450 million users in China and was an efficient channel for expressing opinions and participating in public affairs. However, netizens were sometimes misled or cheated by misleading postings, said the article.

The article, written by Chen Jiaxing, cited the case of the death of Qian Yunhui last month. Some online postings questioned the cause of the death of Qian, a village head in east China's Zhejiang province.

However, a police investigation showed his death was the result of a traffic accident rather than any foul play, as some postings implied.

Internet manipulation, or "public opinion viruses," harmed the healthy development of the Internet, and could affect public emotions and mislead public opinion, which could intensify or magnify social conflicts, it said.

Unquestionably, the Internet was a new channel for building democracy with Chinese characteristics and satisfying the public's rights to know, to express, to participate and to supervise, the commentary said.

However, netizens had to be wary of information from unauthorized sources, or one-sided opinions, so as to avoid being cheated and misled, it said.

The traditional news media should bear greater responsibilities in guarding against "public opinion viruses" and realizing a beneficial interaction with the Internet, so as to jointly push forward harmonious social development, it said.

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