Beijing must Open Door to Media Freedom , Says report on Olympics

China's Olympic Games

performance took the world by storm, but it gets mixed reviews in a report

issued today on official treatment of overseas journalists and media covering

the Games.

A report issued by the International

Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the global sports communication group Play the

Game recognises that the Chinese decision last month to extend free-range

reporting rights to international media constitutes a welcomed progress. But

the report adds that the country has much to do before it can claim to live up

to international standards for a free press.

IFJ leaders meeting in Paris this month agreed to send a new international

mission to China

to continue a ground-breaking dialogue which they hope will lead to fresh

action to improve the conditions for local journalists.

"The Games were spectacular but the

glitz cannot hide the real problems that still exist for journalists and their

sources," said Aidan White,

IFJ General Secretary. "As this report shows the government must end harassment

of media and open itself up to legitimate scrutiny by independent journalists."

The report, issued as part of the

Play the Game for Open Journalism project, finds that the experience of journalists

during the Beijing Olympics varied according to what aspect of the games they

were reporting upon.

While most sports journalists were

largely satisfied, many of those following events off the field of play had

problems.

There were hundreds of violations of

media freedom rules for foreign correspondents during the Olympics, including the

roughing up of photographers, detention of journalists, intimidation of sources

and blocked access to politically sensitive hotspots within China.

The report concludes that there are

five areas where action is needed to make progress towards press freedom in China:

    • Recent legislation allowing for freer working conditions for foreign journalists must also be extended to Chinese journalists, who still suffer from serious suppression.

    • Restrictions on free coverage of certain subjects of vital importance to Chinese society, such as Falun Gong, Tibet, Xinjiang and Taiwan should be lifted.

  • Sources must enjoy the same freedom as journalists to speak freely. Monitoring and targeting of sources is unacceptable and undermines press freedom.

    • China must raise the level of media awareness and consciousness through campaigns and educational projects to ensure that local police and other authorities understand the rules covering media and are capable of implementing them.

Finally, China faces a major cultural

challenge -- to promote a debate about achieving its aims of a harmonious

society while allowing for critical and independent journalism that will

ensure society is fully informed of all points of view. The IFJ and Play

the Game insist that  these objectives

are not contradictory.

 
Copies of the report can be

downloaded from the Play the Game for Open Journalism homepage at www.playthegameforopenjournalism.org as well as from the homepages of Play the Game (www.playthegame.org) and the IFJ (www.ifj.org).

 

PlaytheGameforOpenJournalism-Report.pdf


The Play the Game for Open Journalism

project is a joint initiative of the International Federation of Journalists,

the world's largest association of journalists, and Play the Game, a non-profit

organisation working to strengthen the basic ethical values of sport and

encourage democracy, transparency and freedom of expression in world sport.