Beijing, Oct 10: The media should be respected even if some of the reports are out of line, said a state-run Chinese daily after a newspaper was told to cancel an article exposing the luxurious lifestyle of an official.
Zhou Zhichen, president of the Yunnan-based City Times, Tuesday posted an emotional Weibo comment: “As a media person, I have never felt so angry and ashamed.”
An editorial in the Global Times said that the City Times published an article related to the director of the Fujian communication department Li Dejin, exposing his luxurious lifestyle.
The article said that Li wears a watch worth 50,000 yuan ($7,930) and a belt worth 13,000 yuan.
“However, City Times was requested to cancel the article and reprint the page. Netizens who disclosed this incident also posted a photo of the article in question,” said the editorial.
The daily said that though details of this incident are still unclear, “the media should be respected, even if some of the reports are out of line”.
“Newspapers can be asked to delete articles, but there should be sufficient grounds to do so. The authorities also have to reach a consensus with that newspaper,” it said.
The editorial wanted officials to respond to public doubts in a timely manner. “A wall of silence will only lead to more suspicion.”
It admitted that “Chinese media outlets are constantly frustrated by interference from special interest groups, sometimes even powerful individuals”.
“The more influential the outlet is, the more interventions it may suffer. This has put traditional media in a disadvantageous position compared to online media,” it noted.
It went on to say that if the report concerning Li is true, “the extreme measure of being forced to reprint should not be allowed to happen by any means”.
“Even if it contains a few inaccuracies, given the powerful influence of online public opinion, the effects can be controlled and remedied through statements or apologies. The easy decision to cancel an issue of a newspaper shows how media outlets are disrespected by people who hold power,” said the daily.
“They underestimate the consequences of decisions like this. This is no longer a time when information can be blocked or erased. Those who attempt to do so will only find themselves in more trouble.
“Respecting the media should be the motto of those who hold public power. Trying to manipulate the media will incur a high price,” it added.