Greg Baker/AP

China to Create Blacklist for Journalists Who Break Rules

February 13, 2009 03:00 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
The database will further limit a press that is already subject to heavy government oversight.

Authorities to Create Database


State media reported Friday that the China Press and Publishing Journal, the agency that oversees all state-owned media, will create "a database of media professionals with a bad record."

"Their names will be entered into the list and they will be restricted from news reporting or editing work," said Li Dongdong, deputy director of the General Administration of Press and Publication, according to BusinessWeek. Reporters who break the rules will have their press passes taken away.

The database is just one new regulation being imposed on newsmakers, which Li said were needed to "resolutely prevent fake reporting." In recent months, China has also blocked foreign and domestic Web sites, such as those of The New York Times and Hong Kong newspaper Ming Pao.

In an open letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton dated Feb. 13, Reporters Without Borders urged her to bring human rights to the fore in an upcoming meeting with Chinese leaders.

The group says that the Chinese government has jailed at least 26 journalists on ambiguous charges such as "revealing state secrets" and "inciting subversion."

"You should urge the Chinese government to cease its widespread media and internet censorship, and fully honor its obligation to guarantee freedom of expression, information, and freedom of the press under Article 35 of the Constitution and international standards," the agency writes.

Background: Press Freedom Under Fire in Asia

In South Korea, critics are saying that the imprisonment of a popular financial blogger is a chilling example of censorship.

Park Dae-Sung, a 31-year-old Korean man who wrote about finance despite never having worked in the sector, accurately predicted the demise of 186-year-old U.S. investment bank Lehman Brothers and the steep weakening of the Korean won against the U.S. dollar.

But some of his postings, including one accusing the South Korean government of issuing letters to financial institutions advising them to stop buying dollar reserves in a bid to bolster the won, raised the ire of authorities and he is now awaiting trial under a little-invoked telecommunications law that could see him imprisoned for up to five years.

“A lot of people believe Minerva's writings have contributed to the public interest because the public interest includes not just credit rating but also exchange of financial information and free discussion of macroeconomic predictions,” Park Kyung-shin, a law professor at Seoul’s Korea University, told Forbes magazine. “If what you believe is contrary to what the government believes, you will be punished. So this is a very strong censorship tool. The freezing effect is just terrible.”

Southeast Asia also seems to be cracking down on free speech. Nguyen Cong Khe, editor in chief of Vietnamese newspaper Thanh Nien and Le Hoang, who edited the Vietnamese publication Tuoi Tre, were fired just months after two of their reporters had gone on trial over their coverage of a major government corruption case. Vietnam’s Communist authorities have in recent months been tightening control of the media with a new policy to crack down on both state-run media and the blogosphere. Two other publications, Legality and Saigon Business People, lost their editors-in-chief in December.

Sometimes it's the most unexpected people that cause the biggest uproars. Last January, Société Générale, or SocGen, France’s second-largest bank, discovered that a single futures trader committed a “massive” fraud, resulting in a $7.1 billion loss for the bank. The trader concealed the money using “sophisticated and varied techniques.”
The rogue trader turned out to be 31-year-old Jérôme Kerviel, a trader at the bank working at such a low-level position in the company that few suspected he was capable of such a feat. Kerviel made an unauthorized bet on European indices worth $50 billion—more than SocGen’s entire value.

Related Topics: Journalist's Murder Makes Somalia Latest Battleground in Global War on Press

Said Tahlil Ahmed was shot and killed in Mogadishu by assassins who have threatened to kill others, according to witnesses. Tahlil worked for HornAfrik, a Somali-language TV and radio station based in Mogadishu. The Christian Science Monitor reports that Somalia has seen at least 13 journalists killed while on on the job since 2007, and that more than 50 are now in exile, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists and the National Union of Somali Journalists. Somalia is considered one of the most dangerous places in the world for journalists.

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