From Paul French, china editor, in Shanghai:
As all of you in the UK media may be feeling a little fragile ethically at the moment do remember that things could be worse, perhaps…
We all know that PR companies try to spin journalists, get the story told the way their clients want, sometimes on behalf of governments.
China of course doesn’t need to hire any spin meisters to deal with their hacks, a group as well-behaved as nice little public school boys walking home from church in a neat line basically.
And they’ve got all their phone numbers too.
So, after the Wenzhou High Speed train crash all hacks got the following text from Beijing’s Central Propaganda Department (the censor basically):
“The latest directives on reporting the Wenzhou high-speed train crash:
1. Release death toll only according to figures from authorities.
2. Do not report on a frequent basis.
3. More touching stories are to reported instead, i.e. blood donation, free taxi services, etc.
4. Do not investigate the causes of the accident; use information released from authorities as standard.
5. Do not reflect or comment.
Reminder on reporting matters:
All reports regarding the Wenzhou high-speed train accident are to be titled “7.23 Yong-Wen line major transportation accident.”
Reporting of the accident is to use ‘In the face of great tragedy, there’s great love’ as the major theme. Do not question. Do not elaborate. Do not associate. No re-posting on micro-blogs will be allowed!
Related service information may be provided during news reporting. Music is to be carefully selected!”
This does put the News International scandal into some sort of perspective!