China media: Journalism ethics

This picture taken on 17 August 2012 shows a Chinese bank staff member counting stacks of 100-yuan notes at a bank in Huaibei, east China's Anhui province. Image copyright AFP
Image caption China has been cracking down on officials in various sectors suspected of corruption

Chinese papers and experts call for better journalism ethics in the wake of the arrest of a business news website's top staff.

According to reports, eight people from the 21st Century financial news website and PR companies have been arrested for extorting money from companies in exchange for positive news and attacking those who did not co-operate.

"Abuse of the media's supervisory role is a dangerous sign of corruption in our profession... Such corruption worsens the atmosphere of distrust and severely erodes society's moral fibre," says the China Daily.

It adds that the probe will serve as "a wake-up call for all domestic media institutions to look at themselves in the mirror".

"The news has shocked many in the media industry. It is known that the influence of the 21 Century media group and the remuneration of its staff is one of the best among financial media outlets. And that is why it is unbelievable that they went on the crooked path of news extortion," notes an article in the Xinhua News Agency.

Experts interviewed by the agency, however, hope that the "normal supervisory role" of the media will be further expanded as authorities take down the "dirty production chain" of news extortion.

"On one hand, the supervisory right of the media is still not protected. On the other hand, the system of supervising the media is far from perfect. Under such circumstance, it is necessary to expand reporting space while punishing media corruption at the same time," Zhang Zhi'an, a communications professor with Zhongshan University, says.

In another report, the professor adds that the operating model of online media outlets needs an overhaul to ensure a distinct division between editorial and business roles.

This will allow "journalists and editors to concentrate on news reporting instead of abusing their reporting roles to gain operating revenues".

"It is necessary to treat all the offenders in the media sector equally. Whether they work in media outlets under the central government or local authorities or a commercial media platform, they should all face punishment," Caixin Online, a financial news portal, quotes the communications expert as saying.

'Gaokao reform'

Elsewhere, media look at the national university entrance examination (gaokao) after education authorities rolled out a fresh plan to reform the exam system.

Students, along with their parents, feel intense pressure over the notoriously tough exam as achieving high grades allows them to enter prestigious colleges and land good jobs after graduation.

Critics have been saying that the exam system encourages rote learning instead of developing creativity.

The State Council has outlined new plans to reform the exam and the enrolment system for high schools and colleges by 2020, the Global Times reports.

The Global Times' editorial describes the reform package as "refreshing", adding that the change "declares China's determination to realise fairness in the higher education system".

A commentary in the Beijing Times notes that the government is working on the reform with great care as millions will be affected by the change.

BBC Monitoring reports and analyses news from TV, radio, web and print media around the world. For more reports from BBC Monitoring, click here. You can follow BBC Monitoring on Twitter and Facebook.

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