The work of China’s journalists will now take on a more pronounced shade of red, if the Chinese Communist Party has anything to do with it.
The CCP’s Propaganda Department will now take direct charge of China’s top 10 journalism schools. This take over follows upon a move announced earlier this year: Working journalists will have to take a first-ever national exam early next year that will test them on their ideological understanding.
Professor Wu Fei, the Dean of the College of Media and International Culture at Zhejiang University, confirmed the leading role the Propaganda Department will take in China’s journalism schools on Sina Weibo, a twitter-like platform in China.
“According to reliable information, China is going to strongly reform journalism programs. The CCP’s Propaganda Department will lead the role to rebuild ten major journalism schools—including Fudan University, Renmin University of China, Jinan University, Wuhan University, and so on.” Prof. Wu’s post says.
“Some people think the Marxist news outlook education is not strong enough in some journalism schools, that the western communication ideology prevails, and freedom ideology is popular, which needs to be strongly reformed according to these people,” Wu said.
According to the Hong Kong newspaper Apple Daily, the CCP’s Propaganda Department has sent notifications of the change to relevant provincial governments and universities.
The notification explicitly requests that provincial propaganda department officials will serve as the directors and deans of journalism schools at the universities.
The notification also requires strengthening the education in Marxist news outlook, and cultivating what is called “outstanding journalists of the Party.”
The leak about the new role of the Propaganda Department caused a heated discussion on social media, with a large number of Chinese netizens opposing the department’s taking control of journalism schools.
“It is the most despicable thing to do for the Propaganda Department to control the academics that are supposed to have freedom.” Netizen Chenchen Charce said on Sina Weibo. “Independence and freedom are the spirit of journalism, and they are the backbone of a nation that reflects on itself.”
Earlier this year, the General Administration of Press and Publication announced all the journalists in China will be given a national political exam early next year, the result of which decides whether the reporters get a renewed press card or not.
The exam is the first nationwide test for reporters in China. According to the Party mouthpiece People’s Daily the purposes of the exam are: “enhancing journalists’ quality,” “making journalists consciously uphold a Marxist news outlook”, and “building socialism’s essential value.”
The report says the training materials have 6 videos, including “Socialism with Chinese Characteristics,” “Marxist News Outlook,” and so on.
A 700-page manual for the exam is also sold in bookshops. “It is absolutely not permitted for published reports to feature any comments that go against the Party line,” says the manual. “The relationship between the Party and the news media is one of the leader and the led”.
Chinese scholars consider the change in the leadership of the journalism schools and the enforcement of Marxism on journalists to be a form of brainwashing.
Sun Wenguang, a former professor at China’s Shandong University, told New Tang Dynasty Television (NTD), “The Communist Party has been using Marxism as the major content for brainwashing students. It is in fact a poison to people.”
“I think it is a sorrow for China that the CCP authorities are today promoting such an ideology that’s against humanity and violates human rights,” Prof. Sun said.