What is the Marxist vision of journalism?
China has launched an education platform for would-be reporters that requires them to pledge loyalty to Xi Jinping
14 Jul 23

Launch of the Reporter's Home University education platform

It seems I am reminded daily that I am very lucky to live in a democracy. I may not agree with my Government – but I have the right to tell them I don’t. I may not agree with what’s written in a newspaper – but I have the right to tell the world I don’t. I may not support the status quo in terms of what is happening in my community – but I have the right to speak to my neighbours and demand better and demand change.

Those basic rights to challenge the orthodoxy, to challenge my political leaders, to challenge authority is a blessing and one that I value every day, especially when I am exposed to what happens to people who by dint of birth just aren’t afforded the same rights as me.

This week, yet again, we’ve read reports of events in China. Not only has the CCP continued their persecution of political dissidents by taking in Nathan Law’s family for questioning but they’ve also rolled out a new tool for ‘training’ journalists. The new smartphone training programme from the All China Journalists Association seeks to train aspirant and current journalists in the ‘Marxist vision of journalism’. I honestly have no idea as to what that could possibly entail as I’m not sure that the Communist Manifesto issued ideological guidance for the execution of occupational journalism.

However, what we do know is that no good will come from a CCP-sanctioned training programme designed to brainwash aspiring journalists, who live under a despotic regime, into writing acceptable forms of ‘journalism’. To compound the propaganda element of the training programme – journalists will be forced to undertake the programme before they take an exam to test their loyalty to Xi Jingping and if you don’t pass you don’t get to be a journalist.

This isn’t journalism in any way that those of us who live in a freer society would recognise. It’s an effort to ensure the ongoing practice of national propaganda under the pretence of ‘journalism’. It’s the ultimate effort to ensure that no one can speak truth to power and that only one dominant narrative – that of the CCP – is heard. There will be no challenge to the status quo. There will be no free media. There will be no dissent.

The question for global media outlets then becomes how on earth do you cover events in China if journalists on the ground are actually propaganda agents and it’s increasingly difficult for foreign news journalists to operate freely. We covered this earlier this year. But as some dictators become even more fearful of their own people – this is a question which is increasingly going to dominate newsrooms around the world.

By Ruth Anderson

CEO at Index On Censorship