Journalists still face attacks, harassment

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China's top press watchdog has warned against the "complicated occupational environment" facing more than 700,000 media professionals amid the number of reported attacks against journalists.

"Journalists are facing many traps during reporting, while some may encounter physical attacks," Li Dongdong, deputy director of the General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP), was quoted as saying on Friday by the China Youth Daily.

"At the same time, the emergence of fake journalists will greatly hinder the legitimate media's work."

Li's warning at a symposium to celebrate Chinese Reporters' Day, which falls on Nov 8, follows a dozen cases of journalists being attacked or disturbed while reporting this year.

In March, a female TV reporter in the Southwest China's Guizhou province was slapped in the face while reporting a traffic offence.

In August, Yichun police in Northeast China's Heilongjiang province apologized for mistakenly detaining four reporters covering a plane crash there.

At almost the same time, police in Suichang county, Zhejiang province, put Qiu Ziming, a reporter with Beijing-based Economic Observer, on its wanted list after Qiu reported suspected irregular dealings by a local company.

"I refused the company's offer of bribes," Qiu wrote on his micro blog. "I'm not afraid, as what I reported is all true."

The investigation was ordered by police for "damaging business reputation", though Qiu was later exonerated due to pressure from GAPP.

GAPP chief Liu Binjie, was quoted by People's Daily as saying in August that a media report cannot be considered slander as long as it's based on fact.

"A journalist's right to report should be respected and protected," Liu said.

Li Dongdong said GAPP has introduced several regulations to guarantee journalists' legal rights and protect them from any physical attacks while reporting.

"Journalists who abuse their right to interview for private gain will be severely punished and reported to the public to ensure the proper functioning of the press and publication market," she said.

GAPP also stressed the media's right to get information from governments at all levels.

It said government officials should speak the truth when reached by media and they should not hide any facts.

Media have the right to know, interview, publish and criticize, and government officials should not turn down media request for interviews without a proper reason, the administration said.

Liu Xiaoying, a media expert at Communication University of China, said the right to know should be better promoted among the public.

"Not only government officials, but also businessmen and common citizens should realize the importance of the right to know. Only by doing so can journalists enjoy a better occupational environment," he said.

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