Tag Archives: Censorship

Chinese officials told to influence online news coverage of games, says RSF

Chinese government officials have been told to ‘orientate online opinion’ in the build up to and during this year’s Olympic Games in Beijing, press freedom campaign group Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has said.

According to RSF a confidential memo seen by the group ‘confirms that the authorities have an active policy towards online information content’.

In the memo, guidelines on how government officials should behave towards foreign media before and during the games are set out.

The instructions, which are intended for provincial officials in the country, asks recipients to “reinforce the work of commenting on the Internet and increase the level of opinion orientation on the Internet.”

“There is a need to reinforce management of news websites and to guarantee appropriate opinion behaviour as regards online news and information,” the memo states.

In a press statement, RSF said the plan contained some positive features, such as instructions on training officials and holding news conferences for foreign journalists, but contained ‘serious obstructions to the free flow of news and information’.

“While introducing more flexible rules for foreign journalists in January 2007, the Chinese authorities also established a nationwide policy for supervising and influencing the international media,” said RSF.

“Parts of this classified memo show there is a real concern to provide better information to foreign journalists, but it also reveals that the authorities never abandoned their intention to censor the news.”

Full details of the memo can be viewed on the RSF Asia website.

Rusbridger attacks Chinese ‘censorship’ as Tibetan riots quelled

Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger has written to the Chinese ambassador in the UK attacking China’s censoring of foreign news websites – including Guardian.co.uk – in the wake of the Tibetan riots.

Mr Rusbridger asked for the ambassador’s assistance in unblocking his website back online and ensuring that access to it remained free of interference.

“As you will be aware, the blackout has coincided with media coverage of the recent unrest in Tibet, forcing the conclusion that this is an act of deliberate and wholly unacceptable censorship,” wrote Mr Rusbridger.

“We are dismayed that Beijing should curtail international press freedom, particularly in Olympic year.”

The move comes in the wake of a violent crackdown on protests in Tibet by Chinese authorities that have also attempted to block the media from reporting what was going on.

Tibetan exiles say at least 80 protesters died in the clashes as reporters were being forced to leave.

The Foreign Correspondents Club of China reported that as many as two-dozen reporters have been turned away from or forced to leave Tibetan areas and government censorship of the internet and television broadcasts was also hampering journalists’ work.

“Reporting interference is not in the interest of the Chinese government which is trying to show a more open, transparent and accountable image to the world,” said FCCC President Melinda Liu, in a piece carried on the FCCC website.

“Such interference is not in keeping with reporting regulations adopted during the Olympics period – and is especially not in keeping with the international community’s expectations of an Olympic host nation,” added Liu.

Writing for the Telegraph.co.uk Richard Spencer claimed to have been ordered to leave the Tibetan town he was staying in by local police (Spencer also points to some bloggers who are managing to get information onto the net about the crackdown)

The Honk Kong Journalists Association (hat tip Roy Greenslade) is also reporting that journalists from at least six Hong Kong media organisations have been placed under escort and ordered out of Lhasa, the Tibetan capital.

IOC blogging guidelines – ‘Blogging form of personal expression, not journalism’

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has had the definitive word on what a blog actually is by publishing its blogging guidelines for the upcoming Beijing Games (apologies for the late reference to these guidelines – they were first published some time ago).

“The IOC considers blogging, in accordance with these Guidelines, as a legitimate form of
personal expression and not as a form of journalism. Therefore, the IOC does not consider that blogs by Accredited Persons, in accordance with these Guidelines, will compromise Paragraph 3 of Bye-law to Rule 49 of the Olympic Charter which states that “Only those persons accredited as media may act as journalists, reporters or in any other media capacity”.”

(IOC blogging guidelines for Beijing 2008 PDF)

According to the limitations if an Accredited Person – coach, athlete, team official, drinks carrier and the like – wants to maintain a blog throughout the Games they will not be able to make mention of anything other than ‘their own personal Olympic-related experience’ as ‘blogs of Accredited Persons should take the form of a diary or journal’.

This means posts should not contain:

  • Any interviews with, or stories about, other Accredited Persons
  • Any information that is confidential or private in relation to any third party
  • Information which may compromise the security, staging and organisation of the Games
  • Pictures – still or moving – that contain sporting activity and medal ceremonies in Olympics-designated areas.

Essentially, the IOC doesn’t seem to want any form of journalism or publication that could in anyway clash with the activities of commercial stakeholders or the political sensibilities of the hosts.

Anything journalistic will be monitored from the imposing media centre that has been constructed as the designated home of the world’s press during the Games.

Here’s what could happen if rules are flouted:

“Violation of these Guidelines by an Accredited Person may lead to the withdrawal of such person’s Olympic identity and accreditation card.”

News articles today on Journalism.co.uk

NUJ to offer free legal support for members’ copyright actions
Deal with Thompsons Solicitors will allow members to pursue copyright infringements at no personal cost

Times Mobile appoints Brigid Callaghan as its new editor
Brigid Callaghan becomes editor of Times Mobile

Chinese digital news under attack in run-up to Olympics, says press freedoms report
Reporters Without Boarders report on press freedoms says 55 reporters and internet-users have been arrested in China since the country was awarded the Olympics

‘Local online news is changing, but not fast enough’ Paul Bradshaw
Comment article

Index on Censorship launches new website

The new website for the Index on Censorship aims to be the centre of news and analysis of freedom of speech issues around the world, according to a press release from the site.

The use of WordPress for the site acknowledges the importance of open-source software in the batle against censorship online, the release says.