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(May 02, 2008) On March 30, 2008, the Paris-based media freedom organization Reports Without Borders (Reporters sans frontières) (RSF) issued a press release making public a purportedly classified memo dating from 2007, obtained from Chinese sources, advising provincial-level officials on the behavior they should adopt towards foreign journalists before and during the Beijing Olympic Games. The Working Recommendations for Reinforcing Management Efficiency After the 'Rules for Interviews by Foreign Journalists During the Beijing Olympic Games and Their Preparatory Period' Take Effect consists of the national authorities' instructions, under six headings, on handling public relations and controlling press coverage. The six sections cover "creating an interview strategy, improving the news release system, building a propaganda system for foreign media, creating positive opinion online, controlling opinion in a crisis and training officials in public relations." (Press Release, Reporters Without Borders, Classified Memo Reveals Government Strategy for "Managing" Foreign Journalists (Mar. 30, 2008), available at http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=26380.)

While RSF praises the plan's "positive elements such as training officials and holding news conferences for foreign journalists," it criticizes the obstructions to the free flow of news and information that the memo entails. The press release also points out that the memo "confirms that the authorities have an active policy towards online information content," calling upon the officials "to 'reinforce the work of commenting on the Internet and increase the level of opinion orientation on the Internet." In addition, in relation to public emergencies and crises, the memo tells officials to "have effective methods for disseminating news and for organizing and managing journalists" and to "[m]anage journalists doing on-the-spot interviews in an orderly and effective manner and influence their coverage of the event." (Id.)

Author: Wendy Zeldin More by this author
Topic: Freedom of the press More on this topic
Jurisdiction: China More about this jurisdiction

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Last updated: 05/02/2008