China orders reporters trained in Marxist theory

The Associated Press

China will toughen requirements for reporters by launching a new certificatio system that requires training in Marxist and communist theories of news, a media official said, citing problems with the current crop of mainland journalists.

The South China Morning Post reported Thursday that Li Dongdong, deputy director of the General Administration of Press and Publication, said some eporters were giving Chinese journalism a bad name because they hadn't been properly trained. She didn't give any specific examples.

Similar comments by Li were posted on the Web site of the official Xinhua News Agency. It was not clear how such training would be administered, but foreign journalists are exempt.

Communist theories of journalism say media should serve the leadership and not undermine its initiatives - a stark contrast to the independent government wahdog role many democracies embrace.

Government censors keep a tight grip on news content and routinely ban reporting on issues deemed too politically sensitive or destabilizing, and many media outlets in China serve as mouthpieces for the state.

But recently some have become more freewheeling since newspapers and broadcasters began relying increasingly on advertising instead of just Communist Party patronage for their survival. Some have run afoul of the government for reporting accurately on stories that officials didn't want publicized.

There have been also problems with reporters demanding payment for positive news coverage or to bury a story, and instances of reporters fabricating news.

"Comrades who are going to be working on journalism's front lines must learn theories of socialism with Chinese characteristics and be taught Marx's view on news, plus media ethics and Communist Party discipline on news and propaganda," Li told Xinhua on Monday.

A senior editor with the Beijing-based Economic Observer said this week he had been punished for co-authoring an editorial that urged the government to scrap an unpopular household registration system, saying it discriminated against the poor.