In China, several political bodies are in charge of Internet content control. At the highest level, there is the Central Propaganda Department, which ensures that media and cultural content follows the official line as mandated by the CCP. Then there is the State Council Information Office (SCIO), which has established “Internet Affairs Bureau” to oversee all Websites that publish news, including the official sites of news organizations as well as independent sites that post news content.
In July 5, 2006, the director of the State Council Information Office (SCIO) publicly told the Chinese media that in order to strengthen the monitoring and control of Internet content, one of the necessary measures is to invest in capacity-building through training programs for editors and managers of all the major websites. These training programs had been systematized even before the SCIO’s announcement. Many of these training programs were carried out by News and Communication Schools in Chinese universities; some of them are organized through various official media themselves, but the highest level training program has been one organized by the State Council Information Office itself. In 2005, SCIO organized 10 such training sessions, and this system has continued over the last four years.
Recently, the ninth session of the 2009 SCIO Internet News Work Training Session just finished in Beijing. All participants are top editors and managers of major news websites in China. Trainers are:
* Li Wufeng, Bureau Chief of the State Council Information Office Internet Affairs Bureau
* Peng Bo, Deputy Chief of the State Council Information Office Internet Affairs Bureau
* Professor Zhu Feng, Peking University School of International Relations
* Song Fufan, Director of the Ideology and Political Education Teaching and Research Section of the Marxist Theory Research Department at the Central Party School of the Communist Party of China
* Zhai Huisheng, Party Secretary of the All China Federation of Working Journalists
* Professor Gao Gang, Secretary of the Party Committee of Renmin University School of Journalism and Communication
* Xia Chenghua, Deputy Chief of the Central Government Stability Preservation Leading Group Office
* Zhou Xisheng, Deputy Chief of Xinhua News Agency, Director-General of Xinhua News Agency
Soon after the training finished, one of the participants released her notes from this session online, and they have been quickly circulating through Chinese cyberspace. The Internet police has been rapidly deleting copies of the notes and netizens’ comments on them.
CDT has translated the entire collection of notes from this 2009 SCIO Internet News Work training session; in total there are eight articles, which we will publish consecutively in coming days. CDT would like to thank the translator, who wishes to remain anonymous. Here is the first article:
Li Wufeng, Bureau Chief of the State Council Information Office Internet Affairs Bureau
Main points of the lecture:
1, Without media hype there will not be popular internet expressions; if the news is reported in an orderly way, then online public opinion will be harmonious and orderly. It is extremely important to safeguard the orderly dissemination of online news.
2. Currently, the online republishing of news stories has the following major problems:
2.1 Republishing articles from small papers and publications, even republishing articles from the foreign press.
2.2 The online news phenomenon of “news laundering”* is still serious. Sometimes standard news sources do not even carry the story [that the republishing source claimed the standard news source published].
2.3 Intentionally posting unpermitted content on interactive interfaces (forums, blogs).
2.4 Small newspapers and websites republish each others’ stories, creating media hype. For example, the Deng Yujiao incident** and the Hangzhou street race case***.
3, The issues created by these problems are extremely serious. The following are some of the major problems caused:
3.1 Little incidents are hyped into big issues.
3.2 It breeds a base and vulgar culture.
3.3 It seriously influences the direction of public opinion.
4, In response to the above issues, the next step is to vigorously take measures to protect the orderly republication of news stories.
4.1 Improve training, protect the orderly dissemination of online information.
4.2 Each website must improve its internal mechanisms; it is the station of a news editor to be responsible.
4.3 The agencies in charge of supervision must improve their monitoring and inspection.
4.4 Move forward in perfecting a republication system; clearly establish the source of republished articles.
In addition: a list (version three) of news media organizations from which articles can be copied is currently being organized and discussed. It will be made available as soon as possible.
* “News laundering” (xi gao) is a term coined to describe a situation in which a news organization is unable or unauthorized to be the first to publish a certain item of news, and consequently finds another news organization to first post the news. When the news has been posted by the second news organization, the first news organization will republish the news citing the second news organization.
** The Deng Yujiao incident refers to a case in which a young woman claimed that she stabbed a Party official in self defense after he solicited sex. The internet was critical in rallying public support that likely led to her acquittal. Read more from CDT.
*** The Hangzhou street race case refers to a case in which a wealthy young man, Hu Bin, struck and killed another young man, Tan Zhuo as Hu was speeding in Hangzhou. Hu Bin was later convicted, after the case aroused a great deal of online discussion about the role of wealth in judicial proceedings.