A critical attitude is one of the most important characteristics of a journalist.
But in order to enhance ideological unity, Chinese President Xi Jinping recently called on all Chinese government officials to combat “rumor spreaders” in the country and to win the battle for “public opinion,” cracking down on online dissenters and their critical attitudes towards the state.
Accordingly, the Communist Party’s Propaganda Department announced that the nation will require its 307,000 reporters, producers, and editors to sit through at least two days of Marxism classes.
Chinese journalists initially reacted with a kind of silenced apathy, one investigative reporter for the Southern Weekly stating that he was “speechless” in response to the new requirement.
But beyond losing a voice in Chinese society with Xi Jinping’s announcement, Chinese reporters now face the loss of journalistic credibility internationally and are slowly speaking out about it anonymously.
According to a reporter for China’s Sina News, the Berliner Zeitung in Germany claims that “professional conduct standards for Chinese journalists will now be more blurred,” and China’s new “ideological requirement” will force journalists to abandon their critical duties.
The Berliner Zeitung goes on to say, “In comparison to publications from the ‘80s and ‘90s, Chinese media today is vibrant and diverse. Before, from content to language and layout, practically all Chinese newspapers were the same. Now, however, China has over 2000 newspaper outlets and around 9500 magazine publishers covering topics from astronomy to local construction projects and garden design. Even topics related to homosexuality and domestic violence were common and critical attitudes were the norm.”
But as a result of the new policy announcement, the Berliner Zeitung fears that Chinese journalists will not only feel pressured to hold their tongues on matters related to religion, Tibet, Taiwan, and Tiananmen. The German news source expresses concern that Chinese journalists will not be at liberty to speak critically about much at all.
According to an anonymous Chinese online journalist, “Most journalists who were looking for journalistic freedom have left China’s newspaper industry or aligned themselves with the Chinese government’s wishes.”
And while ideological unity reform plays out in China, more reporters being forced into anonymity or out of the journalistic field, credibility abroad for China’s content creators drops.
Chinese reporters are further muffled and silenced.
Foreign reporters further lose sense of what’s actually happening on the ground in China.
And the Party is the new editorial department.