The Chinese government has issued a new order that bans the use of unverified information from Web sites and blogs in news pages and in the electronic media.
This action comes after the annual meeting of the Communist Party's leadership that was held last month. The meeting focused on increasing China's cultural reach, which resulted in the identification of a need for increased supervision of journalism and the Internet.
The leadership realized, at the meeting, the increasing instances of Chinese media citing Twitter-like micro blogs and Web sites as sources of information. Apparently, Chinese journalists have come to rely on Sina Weibo, a Chinese Twitter clone.
The General Administration of Press and Publications (GAPP) has required reporters to produce at least two sources for any critical news reports and to personally conduct interviews when gathering information. The new regulations stress that reporters must insist on doing their reporting in the field and not rely on unverified hearsay or other non-first-hand information in their reports.
The GAPP said newspapers must publish corrections and apologies for circulating false reports as and when they do so. Serious violations could lead to the suspension or even revocation of a news outlet's government-issued license, it said in a statement on Thursday. Press credentials could be revoked for between five years and life if they recycled untrue information from the Internet or mobile phone messages.
False reports not only seriously hurt the interests of the parties involved, but also seriously undermine the credibility of the news media, or even seriously affect the social and economic order, GAPP said in a question-and-answer article released by the state news agency Xinhua.
It is natural that Chinese leaders are worried about the national unrest that messages in micro blogs and Web sites could generate, especially considering the situation in many Arab nations. However, it remains to be seen just how well the above rules and regulations are enforced.