China is forcing its journalists to take an exam to prove their loyalty. This national exam will also test their political correctness and allegiance to the country’s leaders.
China is now imposing an exam that has to be taken by journalists to qualify for their position. If they do not line up with the Party due to their exams, their credentials could be revoked.
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The new exam will test how loyal and “politically correct” a journalist is. It will cover news gatherers and editors for news organizations.
Starting July 1, 2023, journalists must pass the exam to obtain the “journalist certificate,” allowing them to work as a journalist in China.
The announcement of the exam
The exam announcement came on December 30, 2022, by the National Press and Publications Administration, China’s media regulator.
Applicants are expected to support the Chinese Communist Party. They are also expected to promote news that implements the thoughts of Xi Jinping according to the announcement.
Journalists are expected to help spread the news aligned with the principles, policies, and Party’s theories. As highlighted by the announcement, the purpose of this is to adhere to political direction.
Another important point highlighted in the announcement was to guide public opinion toward the Communist Party’s position on various issues.
What this means for journalist
Existing journalists that fail the exam will have their press cards removed. This means they will no longer be granted access to reports and will not be treated as professional journalists.
When it comes to aspiring journalists, this exam is compulsory if they want to work in the journalistic field eventually. If they fail the exam, they can no longer work in journalism.
This is the latest move by the country to further look into journalists and what they might say about China’s politics. However, this is not the first move that the government hs taken in this direction.
For years, China has been imposing new rules on journalists to influence what they might potentially say. This is through requiring them to self-censor.
China’s earlier rules for journalist
China previously enforced a rule in 2014 that made studying Marxism required by Chinese journalists. This was so that they would be more open to Marxist ideas, which is in line with the political party.
Two years later, China’s Xi Jinping, the Chinese Communist Party leader, made a statement giving a new classification to journalists. His words were to state media organizations, warning them they were still part of the Party. It was also highlighted that they would have to protect their authority.
In 2020, the government required journalists to take a political test to retain their press passes. The new exam, however, is said to cover a broader range of topics and will test the journalist’s answers given on political issues.
The results of the exams
In December 2021, there were 194,263 accredited state journalists. However, out of the total number, only 180,075 could pass the political test.
This resulted in 24 news organizations and 353 journalists losing their credentials. Worse, 110 were imprisoned according to a 2022 report by Reporters Without Borders.
What does the future hold for journalism in China?
Since it was highlighted that the journalist’s job also includes guiding public opinion about the Party, this could mean limiting what they can say.
With a stricter hold on journalists through the new exams, it will be more difficult for them to uphold any slim comparisons to Western journalist standards. This is especially true when they try to publish opinions that do not align with the answers they gave during the tests.
It remains uncertain whether the Chinese press’s future will allow journalists to express their feelings about the situation. This is because of the stricter filtering process on who can become a journalist.
Already tightly censored, journalism in China regarding topics that go against the party’s propaganda will become increasingly difficult. As journalists go through a new filtering line, only time will tell how the state media will write on specific political topics such as corruption.
As to how truthful and credible China’s reporting can be considered, only in-depth fact-checking and first-hand investigative journalism will be able to tell which, following this new ruling, will be further restricted.
Leave us a comment below about what you think about China’s new loyalty exam for journalists and how this may impact the fundamental values that journalism is based.