The following is a video report on Xishui County’s (in Hubei Province) internal training of government spokespeople and Internet commentators who are hired to guide online public opinion in the government’s favor. The training was held by the county propaganda department on September 8. This is not the first time that an internal training of the Fifty Cent Party has been disclosed and circulated by Chinese netizens. As virtual communities and microblogs grow rapidly in cyberspace, CCP leaders seem to believe that Internet commentators need more “professional training.” The English script has been translated for CDT by Marlies Ruck and June Shu:
In order to continue improving the professional quality of spokespeople and Internet commentators, actively address dynamic public affairs, and correctly guide public opinion, on September 8th the county Party committee propaganda department organized every work unit’s spokesperson and all the county’s radio hosts to undergo professional training.
The County Party Standing Committee member and the head of the Propaganda Department Zhou Liya gave a speech at the opening ceremony of the first class. She analyzed this county’s current situation regarding the press and Internet guidance. Zhou Liya pointed out that the increasing engagement of the masses, the spread of the media, and the increase of digitalization all represent information technology’s advance in leaps and bounds.
Diversification of news dissemination channels, especially the Internet, have already turned into mass media that is all encompassing, spreads quickly, with a prominent influence, and momentous growth. This has become an important battleground for ideology.
Facing the current situation, the increasingly diverse and complex nature of news announcements and Internet opinion guidance work require spokespeople and Internet commentators to constantly strengthen their sense of responsibility and mission; acknowledge good press is needed to publicize important policy decisions by the Party committee and government; extend openness to the outside world; improve the reputation of Xi Shui; advance the openness of government affairs; establish transparency within the government; and promote social harmony and stability.
To be explicit about professional responsibilities, spokespeople can improve five facets of their personal capabilities: First, the capability to raise and maintain the image of the Party and the government; second, the ability to take control of the work; third, the ability to respond to emergency situations; fourth, the capacity to lead public opinion and improve public relations; fifth, the ability to use and manage the Internet and enhance the level of press relations and Internet opinion guidance work.
At the end, Zhou Liya requires that all trainees seize this training opportunity, to study hard, to focus on gaining working knowledge on a daily basis, to apply this knowledge in practice in order to become top-notch news representatives, while guiding proper public opinion on the Internet and contributing to the harmony and stability of Xishui City.
During the training, Yu Chi, spokesman of Huanggang City Municipal News Department, and He Gefei, executive vice president of Xishui City Institute of the CPC, were invited to give lectures to the trainees. They spoke on topics of news broadcasting during emergencies, guiding public opinion on the Internet, improving communications with the media, and making proactive responses during emergencies.
After the training session, news representatives from sectors such as Education, Construction, Transportation and Health had a lively mock press conference, answering questions from the “reporters.” It was very effectively received.