China slow to loosen media muzzle

BBC’s reporter Tim Luard wrote: “Having breathed new life into China’s press, Sars now looks as if it is helping stifle it again. The government was shamed by last year’s epidemic into unleashing the media to help spread public awareness of the disease and chase up officials who had been slow to act. In the process it opened up a whole new landscape of fresh fields of enquiry for an eager young army of Chinese reporters who have been trained in Western journalism but never allowed to use their skills to the full.

In recent days, however, the Communist Party appears to have reverted to its old preference for a muzzle and chain, in order to make it clear that whatever else may have changed in China, there is still only one master when it comes to deciding how to feed politically sensitive information to the masses. ”

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