Media's chance to reflect
Updated: 2013-11-08 08:18
The annual Journalists' Day, which falls on Friday, should be taken as an opportunity for media professionals across the country to reflect on the lessons of a recent scandal that shook the industry and society.
Last month, Chen Yongzhou, a reporter with the Guangzhou-based newspaper New Express, was detained by police in Hunan province on suspicion of taking bribes and publishing untruthful reports about a listed company in Hunan province. A few days later a China Central Television report showed Chen confessing that he had taken bribes and used unverified material to defame the company.
The case prompted the State General Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television, the country's media watchdog, to issue a strongly worded statement saying the case severely damaged the credibility of the media and the image of journalists.
Judged by any standard, Chen's deeds constitute a serious violation of the core journalistic ethics of truthfulness, accuracy, objectivity and fairness. Nor should New Express try to hide its own culpability, as its lax management and accountability system enabled Chen to publish falsehoods for personal gain.
In recent years, the country has adopted various measures to weed out false reports and curb the unwelcome trend of "cash for comment". Newspapers and other media organizations have been repeatedly urged to enhance their management and verify the facts to ensure truthfulness and objectivity in their stories.
Chen's case, along with a few others that have emerged in the past years, shows more still needs to be done to ensure that media ethics are observed to the letter and media organizations provide truthful media content.
Strengthening self-discipline and enhancing supervision over media organizations are two ways to ensure that honest journalism is the daily practice of all media organizations across the country.
When media professionals observe this year's Journalists' Day on Friday, they should embrace the responsibilities the profession puts on their shoulders and remember their duty is to their readers and audiences. The lesson of Chen Yongzhou shows accurate and truthful media coverage is just one step, among many others, toward that goal.
(China Daily 11/08/2013 page8)