CDT has recently acquired and verified a collection of propaganda directives issued by central Party authorities to state media at the beginning of this year. These directives were issued on an almost daily basis in early 2020, and we will be posting them over the coming weeks. The following two directives were released on February 19, 2020.
Higher-level general editing department reminder: recently, the headlines and content of some new media outlets’ pieces have been at odds with the currently propagated tone. In particular, some series’ headlines could trigger inappropriate associations in the midst of reportage publicizing epidemic prevention and control. This is a special notice to the relevant new media platforms to strengthen inspection checks, take television [content] as a unified standard, and at the same time to pay attention to the “timing and effect” of propaganda reports, and guarantee that new media content reliably conforms to the overall tone. (February 19, 2020) [Chinese]
For the near future, in order to avoid negative public sentiment, reports on the novel coronavirus epidemic should give cautious and low-key handling to situations such as medical workers unable to care for seriously ill parents while battling the epidemic or rushing straight back to the frontlines after a miscarriage; or specific hospitals requiring female doctors and nurses to take progesterone to delay their menstrual periods. Please promptly find and delete extreme comments and harmful negative content. (February 19, 2020) [Chinese]
The above directives become the latest in a series of near daily updates to propaganda guidelines on covering the novel coronavirus crisis throughout January and February. In February, state media reports on the conditions facing medical workers became a pillar of central propaganda efforts. Reports framing frontline medical workers as heroic soldiers were criticized for being disrespectful and out of line. Some of these pieces focused on frontline workers’ inability to care for their own daily hygiene or look after infected family members, or others who were summoned to the frontlines while pregnant, given hormones to delay menstruation, or otherwise subjected to humiliation.
This is the third consecutive day of warnings about problematic content, leading to instructions to “find lessons in the mistakes of others and strengthen your diligence” to avoid issues such as “errors of judgment in picture selection, confusion of facts, and publication of inaccurate information.”
Since directives are sometimes communicated orally to journalists and editors, who then leak them online, the wording published here may not be exact. Some instructions are issued by local authorities or to specific sectors, and may not apply universally across China. The date given may indicate when the directive was leaked, rather than when it was issued. CDT does its utmost to verify dates and wording, but also takes precautions to protect the source. See CDT’s collection of Directives from the Ministry of Truth since 2011.