IFJ condemns Chinese orders to put a “positive” spin on earthquake reports

 

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

in Sichuan.

 

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

countries 

Find the IFJ on Twitter: @ifjasiapacific 

Find the IFJ on Facebook: www.facebook.com/IFJAsiaPacific