SHANGHAI (Reuters) - China will start a three-month crackdown this month on news organizations and reporters conducting illicit journalistic practices such as blackmail and receiving kick-backs, the official Xinhua News Agency reported on Thursday.
The crackdown will begin on May 15 and will target journalists involved in blackmail or who demand to be paid to do news reporting. Journalists without proper accreditation conducting those activities will also be scrutinized, Xinhua said, quoting a statement from China’s media regulator, the General Administration of Press and Publication.
China does not have an independent or free press as media outlets are controlled by the government. However, over the past few years and with the rise of the Internet, there has been a slight loosening up over what can be reported. Many state-owned media outlets frequently conduct investigative reports on companies conducting wrongdoing.
The nascent nature of China’s media sector also means that some practices considered taboo in foreign media organizations, such as accepting money when attending a press conference, are commonplace in the industry.
Xinhua reported that China’s media regulator would demand that media organizations fire staff involved in such malpractice and crack down on reporting based on kick-backs and the carrying of advertisements in the form of news reports.
Reporting by Melanie Lee; Editing by Myra MacDonald