The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is disturbed to
learn that the Ministry of Health of China is compiling a media blacklist
to prevent “misleading” information from entering the public domain.
Director of China Health Education Center Mao Qunan and
spokesperson of the media and promotion office said at a food safety forum on
June 13 in Beijing that the Ministry of Health (MOH) would prepare a list to
curb certain journalists and media workers from "polluting the
communications environment", according to a number of overseas media reports.
Jinghua newspaper reported on June 15
that Mao said the list is designed to prevent the public being misled with malicious
news agency reported that Mao said: "We plan to
increase our efforts to create that list as quickly as possible. With the list,
we will be able to trace who first started a widely-spread rumour."
“Media has to bear social stability responsibilities and procure economic
growth and development,” Mao added.
Ministry spokesperson Deng Haihua denied there was any intention
to create a blacklist, according to a June 16 report by Radio and Television of Hong Kong. Deng said that Mao instead
is focused on the media’s promotion of a separate office which is also under
the authority of the ministry.
Food safety and environmental pollution have become key matters of
public concern in China
in recent years. One prominent example is the Sanlu tainted milk scandal in
2008, where a number of departments including the MOH did not release timely information
to the public. The scandal saw at least six children die and 30,000 toddlers
and babies suffer from kidney stones after consuming tainted infant formula.
“Reports of a so-called blacklist are of grave concern because
such a list will prevent the media from accurately reporting on, and people
from finding out about, urgent incidents that might affect their health and
safety,” the IFJ Asia-Pacific said.
“The IFJ does not condone media knowingly reporting misleading
information, but it is crucial that all information relating to public health
is released in a timely manner by the government.”
The IFJ urges the World Health Organisation to look into the
matter, and the All China Journalists’ Association to speak up on behalf of all
media personnel on this serious matter.
information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific
on +61 2 9333 0919
represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131 countries
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