Shanghai Aftershocks, Media Rumblings, Part #1: Caijing’s Code

Seems the propaganda-meisters weren't the only ones issuing gag orders over coverage of the knockout of Shanghai's top cadre a week ago.

magazine did too. Back in August and early September, as Beijing's investigators tried to get to the bottom off the pension fund scandal, the financial magazine's reporters kept remarkably in stride with a wham-bam pair of exposes (Caijing highlighted them on its Web site the day Chen's case broke: click here or here). Meanwhile at another news magazine known for its investigative chops, China Newsweek, more-subdued executive editors said the propaganda department had delivered them a tough message: do not chase, or else. So how did the Caijing decide to keep digging? How did its pull off the scoops? What role, if any, might the pieces have had in hastening the downfall of Shanghai party boss ?

We may never know. Soon after Chen's ouster, Biganzi has learned, Caijing delivered a stern warning to its reporters not to speak to peers in the foreign press about the case. According to one knowledgeable source, the magazine's editorial leadership was upset when a certain American newspaper began snooping for the story behind the story.

Click here for details...


Okay, so we've decided to suppress some of the details.

In fact, though, many newspapers and magazines have attempted to crack the whip on journalists getting too chummy with foreign press in the past few years. And understandly so. The potential consequences are severe, state secrets and subversion-related charges among them. Certain idealistic editors at watchdog outlets, like The Beijing News, have come to think of quoted interviews with foreign journos as an operational third-rail - best not to be touched. Not as long as journalists want to keep on working smoothing within the system, at least.

In the case of Caijing, though, the renewed code of secrecy isn't simply a matter a self-protection and self-. Viewed more broadly, it's a matter of enforcing professional standards. For a number of years, Caijing has held its journalists to an American-style code of conduct unlike any other adopted in the industry. It also has updated that code to keep up with the times. The regimen incorporates the high-minded principles of the Society of American Business Editors and Writers (SABEW), plus a klatch of supplementary clauses to counter "local characteristics" of China's reporting terrain.

For example, Caijing reporters can accept souvenirs worth 200 yuan or under, but not gifts worth more than that. All cash gifts are to be refused; if that is not possible, reporters must hand over the money to Caijing's accounting department, which in turn is supposed to donate to charity. At the top of this supplementary list: no leaking Caijing's editorial plans or reporting to friends, family or colleagues in the field.

Of course, Biganzi only knows much of this because one day early last week, someone tacked the text of the code of conduct on the journalists' bulletin board of Xici.net. He or she gave no explanation for the post. But after it accumulated a few hundred clicks, the site unexplainably trashed it. Biganzi has confirmed that it is Caijing's code. Herewith the contents:

美国财经编辑记者协会:财经编辑记者行为守则
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在工作中动机纯良,不为利欲所诱,这是基本的要求。此外,避免利益冲突出现,切勿滥用媒体权力,必须成为我们在生活中的各个方面都要谨守的原则。这是制定本守则的目的。
作为一名从事财经新闻报道的记者,必须做到:
1.对所在媒体的读者所给予的信任、所寄予的厚望和自己的职责了然于胸,不做任何有辱使命的事情。因此,要时刻注意,广告宣传和新闻报道应有清晰的界限,不可混淆。
2.避免任何有可能危及客观和公正的行为。记者或编辑不应让个人的投资行为影响所作的新闻报道。必要时,记者或编辑要就其投资行为向其主管汇报。
3.避免积极参与市场交易和其它短线投资。财经新闻工作者的角色是无私的公众利益的受托者,这一角色与市场交易的积极参与者的角色是不相容的。
4.在进行个人投资时,不能利用内幕信息;要确信进行有关买卖时,所掌握的相关信息已被广泛传播。
5.要设法保守秘密,以防所掌握的信息在公众获知前泄漏出去,使某些人从中获益。
6.在工作过程中,除了普通的纪念品,不得接受礼品和特别的招待。此外,不得接受任何由邀请方支付费用的以报道为目的的旅游邀请。接受约稿和有偿的演讲邀请也要慎重,以免事实上接受了变相的馈赠。在工作过程中,如有需要,正常价值的宴请可以接受。
7.以上的基本要求,希望同行互相监督。

对于守则的补充
为保证财经新闻报道的信誉,特作如下指引:
1.在任何时候,都要清楚地界定广告宣传和新闻报道的界线。
2.由采编部门制作的内容,只能用在由编辑部门掌握的版面上。
3.由广告部门掌握的版面,应在字体、版式和设计上与新闻版面有明显的区别。
4.允诺以新闻报道换取广告是不道德行为。
5.新闻单位和编辑部门的负责人,应建立规范和指引,以保证财经报道的信誉。
谨慎使用在相关领域有利益冲突的非新闻工作者
使用非新闻工作者写的文章或为他们开设专栏时,编辑要警惕潜在的欺骗性和由此所带来的潜在的利益冲突。这一原则不适用于标示清晰的议论版或观点专栏以及"读者来信"专栏。

《财经》杂志的补充规定
《财经》追求国际公认的最高的职业水准,我们接受上述《财经编辑记者行为守则》。对于该守则的未尽事宜和一些操作细节,特作如下补充规定:
1.不对外(包括家属、亲友)透露《财经》的编辑计划及资料。严禁向同行透露《财经》的编辑计划及资料。
2.避免接受采访对象的馈赠(礼物、酬劳、上市股票之分发等)。有关指引如下:
A.收到价值200元以下的纪念性赠品,个人可接受并保留。
B.收到价值200元以上的赠品,如不便退回,交回单位行政部,由单位登记收存,用于集体活动。
C.对任何现金或可作现金使用的馈赠,应当面婉拒。如不能拒绝,交单位财务作公益用途。财务收到这些款项,要作登记,每年一次向所有员工汇报款项去向。
D.因工作关系接到任何旅游邀请,要报编辑部领导,以不损害办刊宗旨和编辑方针为前提,酌情处理。
3.避免积极参与任何有争议性或可能与《财经》的媒体角色冲突的政治、社会活动。
4.《财经》的全职员工,若非经过同意,不能在其它媒体兼职,不能以个人及合伙名义开设公司。在行业组织和学术机构的兼职活动,不能与本职工作产生角色和利益冲突,且须报编辑部认可。以《财经》杂志的员工的身份在外发表演说、参加访谈节目,要经过批准。
5.在外事活动中,遵守国家有关法律。

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