Minitrue Diary: Media Errors of Judgment, Citizen Documentary Films

CDT has recently acquired and verified a collection of directives issued by central Party authorities to 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 18, 2020.

Recently, problems such as errors of judgment in picture selection, confusion of facts, and publication of inaccurate information have arisen in some media outlets’ reports on the epidemic situation. This is a special reminder that all departments should draw lessons from this, strengthen content examination and verification, and meticulously scrutinize material reprinted from other media, in order to confirm that it is free from error. (February 18, 2020) [Chinese]

Regarding reports on the novel pneumonia epidemic situation, n.b.: if reporting on documentary films or short videos related to the epidemic produced by members of the public, take a firm hold on strengthening checks on their orientation, tone, and content. (February 18, 2020) [Chinese]

These directives are the latest in a string of almost daily updates in January and February telling media how to cover the coronavirus crisis. A number of documentaries were released about the emerging coronavirus outbreak, including from both official media and citizen journalists. Lawyer and citizen journalist Chen Qiushi was detained in early February after posting videos on YouTube from Wuhan while the city was under lockdown. Another video by a doctor in Wuhan tells the story of the outbreak from his perspective. A directive the previous day had urged recipients to “find lessons in the mistakes of others and strengthen your diligence to avoid error,” while other directives urged media to maintain a solemn tone in keeping with the national crisis.

真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.

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