Media Release: China
April 24, 2013
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has
condemned the insistence of Chinese authorities that the media report only
“positive” news stories in the aftermath of last
week’s 7.0-magnitude earthquake which has claimed 193 lives
The earthquake struck on April in Lushan County in
Ya’an City, Sichuan. Media outlets rushed to cover the disasters and while
authorities did not prevent access to the affected zone, there were demands that the media confine
themselves to only reporting “positive” news stories.
One Chinese Mainland journalist said: “Regarding
the evacuation of victims, we were ordered not to make any comparisons (with
earlier disasters) or comments about the evacuations conducted by the military.”
In May 2008 a 8.0 magnitude earthquake struck
Wenchuan, Sichuan killing more than 69,000 people.
The IFJ Asia-Pacific Office said: “We have come to
expect Chinese authorities demand the media put a positive ‘spin’ on news
stories at times of natural disasters. But the authorities must recognise that
the media’s role is not to be a mouthpiece of government. The media must be
allowed to report what has happened and at times that will be stories the
government would see as ‘negative’ – but that is the nature of news reporting
in times of crisis. There should be no attempt to ‘sugar-coat’ stories using
spin but a requirement to report honestly and truthfully. The public’s need to
know exactly what has taken place in a disaster is paramount.”
The IFJ Asia-Pacific Office added that it is
disappointing the Central Government, including Hong Kong Government officials,
continue to place distinctions on news is “positive’ and “negative”.
“It is clearly misunderstanding the principle of
press freedom and the responsibilities of journalist to inform their
communities of the truth,” the IFJ said.
The IFJ urges Chinese President Xi Jinping and
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang to take the lead in quashing any attempts to spin
the news in order to manipulate public opinion and, instead, to allow the media
to perform their duties freely.
For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0950
The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131
Find the IFJ on Twitter: @ifjasiapacific
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