把握好新闻工作的基点 —福建宁德地委书记习近平谈新闻工作
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Grasping the Basis of Journalism ——Xi Jinping, Secretary of Fujian Ningde Prefectural Party Committee, Talks about Journalism

把握好新闻工作的基点 —福建宁德地委书记习近平谈新闻工作

This piece summarizes a speech Xi Jinping gave on what he sees as the proper role of journalism when he was the Secretary of the Ningde Prefecture Party Committee in 1989. In the speech, Xi encourages Party organizations at all levels to strengthen their leadership over journalism, since the media can facilitate the Party and socialist cause by “publiciz[ing] achievements confidently” and serving a “supervision function” to expose corruption.

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In mid-May, a news conference was held in Ningde, Fujian Province. At the conference, Xi Jinping, secretary of the Ningde Prefecture Party Committee, shared many views on how to grasp the basic points of current news work. His views are very inspiring to us journalists and are specially organized for our readers.

5月中旬, 福建省宁德地区召开新闻工作会议,宁德地委书记习近平在会上会下,就当前新闻工作如何把握好基点等问题谈了许多看法。他的观点对我们新闻工作者很有启发,特予整理以飨读者。

With calm analysis and thinking, recognize the current situation

冷静分析思考 认清当前形势

Xi Jinping believes that at present, it is necessary to further strengthen the understanding of the status and role of journalism and to further strengthen the Party’s leadership over journalism. Raising awareness and strengthening leadership must be carried out in light of the current situation. Journalism must grasp the pulse of the times and recognize the tasks and responsibilities entrusted to us by the current situation. The achievements of the ten-year reform are enormous, but it also faces many difficulties and problems. On the one hand, journalism cannot be conservative, ignoring reform with deaf ears to every voice. On the other hand, you cannot copy what others say. At present, there are various social trends of thought. We should think calmly through our own minds and not be dominated by the ephemeral. It takes time to calmly analyze and judge affairs, and rushing to make judgments often leads to a one-sided or even wrong conclusion. Judging from some of the problems currently reflected, it does seem necessary to speed up the process of democracy and the construction of the legal system. As for how to accelerate and to what extent, there are certain scientific implications. Otherwise, democracy will be absolutized, premature, and separated from the current stage. In that case, what was originally very reasonable may become a very wrong thing.


What is democracy? Democracy cannot be defined in general terms. Democracy in a socialist country, I personally understand, should be a legal embodiment of the interests of the people. It is not the will of a certain class or certain people or any of the demands of any one class. Demanding extremes from others or the country is in itself a demand of others to be democratic to oneself while one does not have any sense of accountability or responsibility. This is unacceptable.


Just imagine, if people can do whatever they want, deciding not to engage in family planning and foregoing the task of requisitioning, would this work? Therefore, democracy itself cannot be absolute. It must have certain constraints. At the same time, democratic requirements are also phased and cannot be premature. We now have a phased approach to the cultivation of democratic qualities and the training of democracy. This is the current state of democracy. Can it be used maturely? Let us discuss the election of village committees. Discuss this use of democracy. Some places have done well, knowing how to plan well for the family with the ability to serve the fundamental interests of the village people. In some places, good clan elders are chosen. This has resulted in a paralyzed and semi-paralyzed state in rural grassroots organizations. Therefore, when we ask any question, we should not abandon its premise, background, or certain conditions. Otherwise, it will be difficult to even discuss such things. Is the Cultural Revolution not a specimen of the Great Democracy? This kind of “great democracy” is not instilled with science or the legal system, but rather with superstition and ignorance, and the result was a great turmoil. Anyone can organize a few people to raid their homes, and anyone can band together a fighting team. Today, you defeat me, and tomorrow, I defeat you. Can such hard times be repeated? Without stability and unity, nothing would be possible. The problem of democracy can only be solved on the track of the legal system.


There is also the issue of corruption, which is the most likely to stir righteous indignation. It should be said that every honest journalist and every person with a conscience speaks volumes about corruption and righteous indignation. This issue, however, has to be dealt with calmly. Now, we must not merely rage against corruption. Rather, we must reach a practical solution to corruption. Some criticize corruption, while simultaneously enjoying certain privileges. It can be seen that, from delivery to cremation, transactions may occur at every stage of life, and there may be unhealthy trends. What power can we give to our stethoscope for corruption? However, even it can also generate transactions, as can the steering wheel. This problem deserves our deep thought, and it is worth our in-depth analysis to explore the reasons and reach an effective solution. Otherwise, the problem becomes oversimplified.


To grasp the pulse of the times and understand the role of news, we must realize that news is the mouthpiece of the Party and the people, and it is responsible for the important task of reflecting and guiding public opinion. Our Party has always had a tradition of using newspapers, radio, television, and other propaganda tools to publicize the Party’s line, principles, and policies, to educate the people, to reflect the people’s voice, to promote righteousness, to expose negative and corrupt phenomena, and to mobilize and organize the masses to participate in the socialist construction cause. The Party spirit we emphasize contains the profound connotation of the people’s very nature. Journalists must not only publicize the Party’s propositions but also fully reflect the people’s wishes and demands, so as to unify the two. As a science, journalism is closely related to politics. However, it does not mean that news can be equated with politics, and it does not mean that its authenticity can be ignored for political needs. Therefore, it is necessary to emphasize the Party nature of news work, but not to ignore the regularity of news work itself.


At present, China’s reform is in a critical period. The mentality of the people is diverse, and there is constant friction among the various interests. As for how to solve these problems, a very important point is to give full play to the role of the news media in propagating reform and propagating the Party’s policies. Reform is a great social practice, and the news media must timely and accurately convey the Party and government’s principles, policies, and various information in the process of implementation, prompting Party organizations and governments at all levels to correct deviations in a timely manner such that the reform will be more direct and spur healthier growth. As for some vague awarenesses that exist in the masses, news media should be guided to alleviate conflicts in communication between the Party, the government, and the people and in ideological understandings between people in different regions. We must improve people’s understanding and support for reform and guide people’s thoughts and actions to “One Center, Two Basic Points” so as to guide to the great historical mission of “realizing the four modernizations and revitalizing China.” It should be affirmed that journalism has written a glorious page in the ten-year reform, made great contributions to the reform and opening up, and made great efforts as an important part of the Party’s development of political advantages. Being good at using news tools to promote work is actually a manifestation of leadership and modern working methods. The connection between leaders and the people comes in nothing more than two forms: One is mystical, and the other is open. Mystification is often associated with feudalism, closure, and economic backwardness; openness is often associated with a high degree of civilizational progress. Party organizations at all levels in our region should attach great importance to news work and effectively strengthen their leadership over news work.


In the near future, we should be good at using relatively modern media means to vigorously develop local newspapers, radio, and television stations. We must further improve the system of press conferences. In the spirit of doing more practical things for news work and doing what we can, we should gradually help news organizations solve problems such as funding, staffing, vehicles, office locations, housing, equipment, and treatment.


Do a good job in the guidance of public opinion and carry forward the righteousness of the society

搞好舆论引导 弘扬社会正气

Public opinion guidance and public opinion supervision are the two major functions of socialist journalism. The guidance of public opinion is to promote social integrity through news reports. As for the “promoting righteousness” that I speak of, this refers to strengthening people’s confidence in reform through the guidance of public opinion, recognizing the bright future of reform, and adhering to the four basic principles. At present, it is especially necessary to encourage everyone to actively participate in the work of governance, rectification, and reform in accordance with the spiritual requirements of the Central Committee, to maintain the authority of the Party Central Committee and the State Council, and to maintain a stable and united political situation. How can the guidance of public opinion play the role of “promoting righteousness?” This requires every journalist to stick to positive propaganda and grasp the tone of news propaganda. In the previous period, there was such a saying: “Unspoken achievements carry no weight.” This statement is obviously one-sided. China’s ten-year reform has made great achievements, which is the mainstream of our work and is recognized by the world. News and propaganda must be truth-seeking, must publicize achievements confidently, and must enhance the cohesion of the Party and the authority of the government. Journalists should pay attention to these issues, grasp the essence of things, reflect the mainstream take of the issues, and play a role in promoting righteousness. Regarding the hot and difficult issues that the masses are concerned about, we should, on the premise of publicizing the achievements of the ten-year reform, clarify the nature of these issues to the masses and guide the masses to correctly understand that these issues arise when the democratic and legal system is not perfect during the transition between the old and the new systems. Such issues will be reduced and eliminated with the gradual deepening of China’s reform, the construction of a socialist spiritual civilization, and the continuous strengthening of democracy and legal system construction.


While strengthening the work of public opinion guidance, we must also pay attention to the role of public opinion supervision. Public opinion supervision is a key aspect of the strengthening of Party building and democratic political construction. Unchecked and unsupervised power is bound to lead to corruption. Whether corruption can be effectively stopped is related to the life and death of the Party and the success or failure of the socialist cause. This requires the establishment of various effective supervision mechanisms; public opinion supervision of the news media is the most frequent, open, and extensive method of supervision. At present, when emphasizing the strengthening of Party building and opposing corruption, we must give full play to the public opinion supervision function of news so that corruption can be exposed in broad daylight. Party organizations and governments at all levels should welcome journalists that report both good and bad news, take up the weapon of public opinion supervision, and expose and criticize problems in their own work and various corruption phenomena. Party and government leaders at all levels must correctly deal with news supervision, establish an open and enlightened attitude, not demand perfection from reporters, make friends with journalists, regard news supervision as support for local work, and create a good political environment for news supervision.


Using the weapon of public opinion supervision requires a strong sense of social responsibility and attention to social effects: It is conducive to maintaining a stable and united political situation, reform and opening up, and the Party’s work. The starting point of public opinion supervision should be positive and constructive, and the focus of supervision should be those that seriously violate the major policies of the Party and the state and major problems in social life, with a focus on common incidents. The facts revealed must be accurate. When it comes to criticism of first-level Party organizations and governments, we must be cautious and not jump to conclusions. It is necessary to conduct in-depth investigations, listen to opinions from multiple parties, and draw conclusions that are in line with the facts. In particular, we must pay attention not to criticize those problems that the masses have opinions on and which are temporarily difficult to solve due to limited conditions in our work. Let the people know that the Party and the government are taking measures to overcome difficulties to solve these problems.


Strengthening news team building


— Journalists must have a strong sense of social responsibility. It should be clear that news organizations and journalists all work for the Party and the people, and they must be responsible to the Party and the people as well as to the cause of reform and opening up, no matter when and where they are. Pay attention to the social effects of public opinion and overcome one-sidedness.


— Strengthen learning and improve the level of policy theory. This is an important condition that must be met to excel in journalism. If the level is not high, it is impossible to write good reports. The development of the commodity economy has brought a vibrant social life. Only with a pair of discerning eyes can we grasp the essence of things through phenomena.


This requires every journalist to have a high level of understanding of theory and policy, to learn legal knowledge, to be familiar with the laws of the commodity economy, and to have strong principles and scientific analysis capabilities. The political quality and knowledge level of journalists must be greatly improved.


— We must carry forward the spirit of hard work and conduct in-depth investigations and research. It is the Party’s fine tradition to be deeply practical, to investigate, and to conduct research, and it is also the work style that journalists must have. Whether a report is well written or not has a lot to do with whether journalists can go deep into reality and conduct in-depth interviews. Judging from the situation in our region, at present, some journalists do not conduct enough research. They sit in the office to think of ideas and rely on briefings and conference materials to compile manuscripts. There are not many relevant reports in the newspapers that have in-depth content or a high level of quality; in particular, there are many good topics that go unreported, which has a lot to do with the lack of an in-depth understanding of reality. Investigation and research are the basic skills of journalists and the fundamental way for journalists to become talents. Only by persevering in investigation and research can we train ourselves to be journalists with correct thinking and a solid work style.


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习近平 (Xi Jinping). "Grasping the Basis of Journalism ——Xi Jinping, Secretary of Fujian Ningde Prefectural Party Committee, Talks about Journalism [把握好新闻工作的基点 —福建宁德地委书记习近平谈新闻工作]". CSIS Interpret: China, original work published in Chinese Journalist [中国记者], July 30, 1989

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