Danwei translates a commentary by Zhu Huaxin (祝华新), Secretary of the “sentiments monitoring office” of State owned People’s Net Online (人民网), which offers ten guidelines for local governments on handling Internet public opinion and managing the media. From the first guideline:
1. We have entered into the era of the media spotlight and people with microphones. Today, not only does the Party have its Party newspapers and Party publications, and State-owned radio and TV stations, but there are metropolitan newspapers as well as Internet media, and the foreign media. Especially since the Internet has become “a distribution center for cultural information and a magnifying glass for social opinion”. In the Internet age, everyone can be the information outlet, and a main source for opinion expression. There is an image for this, which is that in front of everyone there now stands a microphone. Local governments are absent on sudden events and sensitive issues, lacking in expression about it, telling lies and even wanting to keep a check on the “mass voices” on the Internet. This doesn’t help the situations, doesn’t solve the conflict, and is not in line with the gist of the 17th CPC National Congress, which asked for the protection of the people’s rights to gain information, rights to participate, rights for expression, and the rights to monitor. An official at the Propaganda department of the Hunan Party Committee was right in saying that when news happens it is number one, whoever publishes the news becomes number two; you can stop a journalist from speaking, but you can’t stop the mouths of all netizens on the Internet.
The author also published another article “Stand Off and Dialogue in the Age of Web 2.0” in the Southern Metropolis Daily on July 20, 2009.