China Watch Blog has learnt that a media official with the Ministry of Health who has made himself known to every journalist, if not every citizen, overnight by threatening reporters that the ministry would blacklist those that publish or broadcast “phony” food-scare reports.
A China Daily report said that by doing so, the official has made public the mindset of many officials vis-vis “trouble making” journalists.
The General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP) stepped in on Monday to clean up the mess created by the official. The media watchdog announced that no organization or individual is allowed to stop journalists from doing their job or blacklist them. The GAPP conceded, though, that media supervision plays an indispensable part in promoting civil society and improving social management.
On Wednesday, members of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee opened the issue of food safety to greater supervision by citizens, and suggested food safety level be upgraded to become part of national security.
Poor food quality raises some important issues on the relationship between the media and government organizations. Investigative journalism, though in its infancy in China, has made some officials uncomfortable. When reporters dig up the truth about social problems, some government departments and officials try to cover it up and blame journalists.
But the media are becoming a force for social good. Officials have realized that transparency is required during emergencies because journalists persistently filed detailed reports on the SARS epidemic in 2003.
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