Persisting in the Principle of Giving First Place to Positive Propaganda

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Li Ruihuan

(25 November 1989)

The news work conference organized by the Central Propaganda Department is very good. Everyone earnestly studied the spirit of the 5th Plenum of the 13th Party Congress, launched discussions revolving around how to improve news work, have raised understanding of a number of important questions and have unified thoughts. This conference will inevitably give rise to a vigorous influence on the development of our country’s news undertaking.

Our party and country are at an extremely important moment. Since the 3rd Plenum of the 11th Party Congress, we have taken economic construction as central, persisted in the Four Cardinal Principles, persisted in reform and opening up, and the achievements are very large. Since the 4th Plenum of the 13th Party Congress, the central leaders with Comrade Jiang Zemin at the core have collectively adopted a series of resolute measures, the situation nationwide is stabilizing day by day, progress is present in all works matters, and the confidence of the people of the entire country has been obtained. But, many problems and difficulties exist in the advance of our country’s economy as well. The 5th Plenum of the 13th Party Congress has correctly analysed the situation, and decided to take three years or more to basically complete the task of improvement and rectification, realize sustained, stable and coordinated economic development. Resolving the questions that have accumulated over many years requires having a process, implementing “double grasping” policies over finance and credit, conducting economic structural adjustment, and may also bring a number of new difficulties. Especially after curbing the turmoil and putting down the counterrevolutionary riot, a lot of work must still be done in deeply resolving a number of issues of ideological understanding. A number of Western countries’ “sanctions” against our country’s economy still persist. In recent months, upheaval and changes have occurred in a number of Eastern European countries’ regimes, which also requires us to handle matters soberly. Generally speaking, there are not a few problems. We must both be full of confidence, and may not lower our guard. Stability overwhelms everything at present. We must conduct efforts on many sides, fully give rein to our political superiority, stabilize the economy, stabilize politics and stabilize society, and at the same time as consolidating the gains from reform and opening up, realize the objective of improvement and rectification. Completing this task, although it cannot be said that this mainly relies on news and propaganda, truly requires the close coordination of news and propaganda. How news and propaganda can do their work better according to the spirit of the Centre, achieve that they benefit stability and benefit enthusiasm, can only help, and cannot bring trouble, truly is a large question that merits attention and research.

At present, there are many problems that need to be researched and resolved to improve news work. Regardless of whether it concerns the general significance of news work, or it concerns the real situation in all aspects at present, or whether it concerns this larger picture that stability overwhelms everything, the key problem is that news reports must persist in the principle of giving first place to positive propaganda. I believe that this is one extremely important guiding principle that Socialist news undertakings must observe. Persisting in this principle means correctly and timely propagating the Party line, principles and policies, reflecting the mainstream of real social life in a way that seeks truth from facts, letting the popular masses use the outstanding achievement of creating a new life to educate themselves to shape large spiritual forces inspiring the people to advance, and at present, this is a public opinion environment that will create a beneficial and stable picture. Next, I’d like to talk about a few viewpoints and opinions on this problem as well as problems related to it, in order to ask the present experts for advice.

I, Earnestly summarizing historical experiences

Looking back at the development history of our Party’s news undertaking, we can derive at least two clear conclusions: first, out Party has given high attention to news work throughout; second, it has persisted in mainly positive propaganda of the people’s revolution and the socialist undertaking.

Many elder-generation revolutionaries in our party, from the period of founding the Party up to after the national revolutionary victory, not only initiated a batch of newspapers and periodicals propagating revolutionary truths by themselves, but also set about writing commentaries and writing reports by themselves. In the early years, Comrade Mao Zedong organized the “Xiangjiang Commentary” and the “Political Weekly”, and afterwards led the establishment of the “Liberation Daily” in Yan’an, Comrade Zhou Enlai led the work of the “New China Daily” in Chongqing himself during the period of the War to Resist Japan, this is all very well known to everyone. The “Talks with the Editorial Staff of the Jinsui Daily” of Comrade Mao Zedong and the “Talks with the North China Journalist Team” of Comrade Liu Shaoqi, expounded the nature and tasks of the Party’s news work from the Marxist viewpoint, and until today, they are required reading for our country’s news workers. The “Report from the News Work Conference in the Southwest” that Comrade Deng Xiaoping made, stressed that “taking up a pen is the main method for implementing leadership”, “publishing newspapers, setting up radio, publishing periodicals and pamphlets” “are more effective than other methods in implementing the present intentions of the leadership, and more broad, their function is larger by far”; pointing out the three conditions that organizing newspapers well must be integrated with reality, connected to the masses and critical and self-critical, as well as that it requires everyone to set up newspapers, etc. These opinions still have an extremely important significance for improving news work in the present day. After smashing the “Gang of Four”, Comrade Xiaoping supported newspapers and periodicals to launch discussion on the criterion of truth, which revived and developed the Party’s ideological line of seeking truth from facts, and established an ideological and theoretical basis for formulating and implementing the lime, principles and policies of the Party since the 3rd Plenum of the 11th Party Congress. In short, the concern and regard of the Party Centre, precisely has been the basic guarantee our Party’s news undertakings have grown out of nothing, to incessantly develop and expand.

Talking about the development of the news battle line itself, whether or not the principle of giving first place to positive propaganda is correctly and completely understood and implemented, directly affects giving rein to the function of public opinion, and also directly affects success or failure of the Socialist news undertaking. Generally speaking, during times during which the public opinion function of news was given rein relatively well, were also time in which this principle was implemented relatively well; the reverse is also true. In the Fifties, propaganda concerning the thirty years of grand, glorious and correct history of the Chinese Communist Party, the patriotism of resisting America and aiding Korea, protecting the home and defending the country, propaganda concerning Huang Jiguang, Qiu Shaoyun and other battle heroes and propaganda concerning Meng Tai, Ma Henchang, Li Shunda, Hao Jianxiu, Wang Chonglun and other model workers, as well as propaganda concerning the large-scale and planned Socialist economic construction; in the Sixties, propaganda concerning maintaining independence, self-reliance, and high and low overcoming temporary difficulties with one heart, propaganda concerning the history of the undertaking of the Daqing oilfields, the “iron man” Wang Jinxi, the Lei Feng spirit and the deeds of Jiao Yulu; since the 3rd Plenum of the 11th Party Congress, the propaganda on bringing order out of chaos, economic construction and reform and opening up, all of these, have given rein to a huge inspirational function for the people of our country, and have given rein to a vigorous promoting function for our country’s Socialist construction undertaking. In the process of persisting in this correct direction, also a batch of news workers with relatively high renown and who are deeply trusted by the Party and the people have been trained and fostered as well. During the period of the “Cultural Revolution”, the overall mistake of “leftism” caused news undertakings to meet with grave disturbances and devastation. Tat sort of “false, large and empty” so-called “positive propaganda” caused news to lose its credit with the popular masses, that sort of propaganda exposing “capitalist roaders” smeared black all over the Party and the revolution. This bitter historical lesson, we may never forget.

Looking at the situation of this year, it may be said that our news battle line both has successful experiences, and also has lessons from failure. During the disturbances at the end of this year’s spring, a small number of comrades in the news sector have deviated from the standpoint of the Party and the people, and almost arrived in a state of confusing right and wrong, and not being able to tell friend from foe. Some newspapers gave rise to a function of adding fuel to the flames of the turmoil and the counterrevolutionary riot in Beijing. It may be said that the lessons from that period for news work are extremely deep. After the 4th Plenum, because the Centre and the localities adopted a series of major and large measures, heartening changes occurred in the overall news battle line. In exposing the truths of the counterrevolutionary riots, opposing bourgeois liberalization, propagating the huge achievements of the forty years since founding the nation, propagating the deeds of advanced model personalities, propagating the construction of clean government, propagating the strengthening and improving of ideological and political work, as well as launching the “Sweeping Pornography” struggle and other aspects, the comrades from the news world have done large amounts of work, and achieved very good results, news public opinion has given rise to a very good stimulating function in stabilizing the larger picture. The propaganda of news public opinion organs of the Centre and the localities (including newspapers, news agencies, television station, radio stations) concerning the achievements of the forty years since founding the nation have been done vividly and dramatically, television programmes such as “In a Flash”, etc., received even more favourable opinions from up and down the county. It may be said that the achievements of news work during this period are extremely notable. Generally speaking, historical experiences prove that news work must persist in and refuse to deviate from the principle of giving first place to the positive side.

II, Strengthening the Party nature of news and propaganda

The Party nature of Socialist news and propaganda, generally speaking, is expressed in the class nature of the proletariat and the revolutionary and scientific nature of Marxism. This is the symbol differentiating it from the news and propaganda of the capitalist class. We say that newspapers are the ears, eyes and mouthpieces of the Party, the government and the people, this is a sort of clear, visual and scientific expression of the Party nature of news work. Its main content is: openly stating that one speaks from the standpoint of the Party and the people, maintaining consistency with the Party Centre politically; persisting in seeking truth from facts, speaking the truth, and not speaking falsehoods, closely linking to the popular masses, sincerely breathing together, sharing joys and sorrows, and loving and hating together with the people, correctly reflecting their desires, cries and requirements; submitting to the leadership of the Party, observing propaganda discipline.

Persisting in the Party nature of news and propaganda, means that it is necessary to propagate the truth while showing one’s colours, propagate things of progress, promise, advance and vigour in actual life, resisting and criticising reactionary, dark, backward and negative things. The Party’s basic line must be correctly and unremittingly propagated to the broad masses, the construction of the theory of Socialism with Chinese characteristics must be propagated, the Party and government policies, principles, laws and regulations must be propagated. News reports must stress social effect, and have social interest as the highest norm. In newspaper, periodical, radio and television propaganda, it is absolutely not  permitted to publish views violating the Constitution and laws, it is absolutely not permitted to express reports and speech slandering or denying the Party’s leadership and the Socialist system, it is absolutely not permitted to disseminate erroneous public opinion, wavering the people’s faith in Socialism, it is absolutely not permitted to use spiritual opium to poison the people’s spirits. The stability of society cannot be influenced because of mistakes in news reporting.

Our news undertaking is the news undertaking of the Party, is the news undertaking of Socialist countries, the Party nature of news is the same as the people’s nature of news, the two are united. Our Party’s purpose is to serve the people with heart and soul, and apart from the People’s interest, the Party has no private interest of its own. The Party is the most concentrated representative for the people’s interest. Because of this, the eyes, ears and mouthpiece of the Party naturally are the eyes, ears and mouthpiece of the people. News work’s responsibility towards the Party and responsibility towards the people is completely  identical. In the previous few years, there have been controversies of the Party nature with the people’s nature, some people advocated that the people’s nature is higher than the Party nature, that newspapers should march with the people, and shouldn’t march with the Party. This sort of viewpoint that opposes the people’s nature with the Party nature is fundamentally wrong, and is extremely harmful. In the turmoil and counterrevolutionary riots that happened at the end of this year’s spring, an extremely small number of people from the news world, under the cover of the “people’s nature”, made rival claims to the party, stirred up trouble, and produced a very bad effect, which both damaged the undertaking of the Party, and also damaged the undertaking of the people. Comrades working at the news battle line shall be alert towards these lessons paid in blood.

Since we acknowledge and persist in the Party nature of news and propaganda in theory and in practice, upholding the principle of giving first place to positive propaganda in news and reporting is a required rationale. What we call “positive”, and call “giving first place”, means that we must strive to propagate and report things that inspire and stimulate people to develop social productive forces, things that inspire and stimulate people to persist in the Four Basic Principles and persist in reform and opening up, things that inspire and stimulate people to strengthen Socialist democracy and legal system construction, things that inspire and stimulate people to move the construction of a Socialist spiritual civilization forward, things that inspire and stimulate the people to ardently accept the great motherland and carry forward the culture of the nation, things that inspire and stimulate the people to safeguard national unity and the unity of the nations, and things that inspire and stimulate the people to struggle to promote world peace and development. In general, all news and public opinion inspiring and stimulating the people to struggle for the prosperity of the country, the happiness of the people and the progress of society are what we call positive, and these shall all be reported with great effort.

III, Eulogizing the achievements of the heroes of the people

Lenin once said that Socialism full of creativity is created by the popular masses themselves. Our Party’s leading the people to construct Socialism with Chinese characteristics, regardless which complications or mistakes this undertaking may undergo from time to time, but fundamentally speaking, and speaking from a long process, this undertaking undoubtedly is the most majestic and greatest undertaking of our country in history. The mainstream of history created by the popular masses is always healthy, the light side always occupies the dominant position. Regardless of whether it is the undertaking itself or the popular masses throwing themselves into this undertaking, all of this merits eulogy. This is the basic viewpoint of dialectical materialism and historical materialism. Persisting in policy of giving first place to positive propaganda, propagates the heroic majesty of the popular masses creating history, creating society and constructing a new life, with justice on its side, propagates the historical truth of the incessant progress of Socialism in China, and is the historical responsibility to which news workers are duty bound.

The popular masses themselves educate themselves, this is one of the basic methods for promoting historical development. During the process of creating history, the popular masses always discover something, invent something, create something, or advance in something. Strengthening propaganda of the positive side uses the heroic achievements created by the popular masses themselves to educate the people, and is the most persuasive, and the most able to inspire people’s hearts. This is in fact a successful experience of ours. In the last ten years, our news organs have also reported not a little of the achievements, experiences and advanced personalities of the “Four Modernizations” construction and reform and opening up, but generally speaking, this was not sufficiently abundant, could not follow the pace of progress of the time, and a sort of social and public opinion environment that inspires the mind, of arduousness and pioneering, of exertion to make the country prosperous and unselfish contribution has not yet been formed. It should be said that this is a sort of the reflection of Comrade Deng Xiaoping’s pointing out the weaknesses in ideological and political work in these years, this greatest mistake in new work that education of working hard in spite of difficulties was not conducted enough. The reason why we stress persisting in the principle of giving first place to positive propaganda, is in order to change this sort of situation. Now that we come across temporary difficulties, and a moment in which not a few comrades’ faith is not enough, persisting in this principle is especially necessary.

The principle of giving first place to positive propaganda, uses the heroic achievements created by the people themselves to educate the people, and is essentially also a sort of important method for our Party to exercise leadership. Because there is always a part of the popular masses in this process of creating history that marches at the head, the work methods of relatively high labour productivity and advance they created, the noble spiritual outlook that they express in this process of creating history, and their moral bearing, undoubtedly has an extremely large model and guiding function. The responsibility of leaders lies in summarizing and popularizing their experiences and deeds, letting their advanced experiences and advanced ideology progressive become common wealth of the entire society. Where a leader is concerned, this is an important channel to raise their own leadership levels.

IV, Stressing the guiding function of public opinion

News public opinion has a rapid, broad and deep leading function over people’s thoughts and actions. People often say, newspapers are the “artillery with the longest firing range”. Especially at present, following the progress of science and technology, the improvement in the popular masses’ material life conditions and the rise in cultural levels, watching television, listening to the radio and reading newspapers have become important component parts of the people’s daily life. News public opinion influences people’s thoughts and actions at all times and in all places. One news message may incite the people to forge ahead, but may also confuse public opinion, and slackening people’s hearts. It must also be recognized that, following the deepening of reform and opening up, large masses of foreign and outside journalists engaged in newsgathering, all sorts of foreign and outside voices also were speedily transmitted through many kinds of channels, among these, there were many newspapers that either because of the political leaning of the writers, or because of intentional misrepresentation, frequently created erroneous public opinion influence. Using public opinion to confuse and poison people’s minds, conduct subversion and incitation, has become an important method of hostile forces to engage in peaceful evolution strategies. Because of this, correctly giving rein to the leading function of news public opinion in contemporary social life, is a requirement for both correctly guiding the popular masses, and for opposing the reactionary propaganda of hostile forces. We must have new and sufficient understandings of this.

Only when news reports persist in the policy of giving first place to positive propaganda can they correctly and fully give rein to the function of leading social public opinion, and can they assist in the stability of the larger picture and the resolution of all sorts of social problem. The Party’s principles and policies are the concentrated reflection of the immediate interests and long-term interests of the popular masses, sectional interests and the overall interests, news guides social public opinion, and must persist in using the Party’s policy positions to guide the masses, and change the policies of the Parties into conscious actions of the masses. The line, principles and policies since the 3rd Plenum of the 111th Party Congress have been proven correct in practice, completely and correctly propagating “one centre, two basic points”, and achieving impartiality, is an important question in news public opinion work from beginning to end. Propaganda relating to the Party and State principles and policies must preserve stability and continuity, and it must be prevented to improperly influence economic stability or social stability because of propaganda. Concerning engaging in small-scale trials, a cautious attitude must be taken in propaganda, it is not permitted to openly propagate things conflicting with existing policies, preventing ideological confusion of cadres and masses.

News guides public opinion, and must pay attention to prevent one-sidedness. What news and propaganda advocate, or what they oppose, their colours must be clear, “storms” must be prevented when concretely grasping matters. When we propagate some work matter, we must talk clearly about the concrete situation and political limits; when we praise advanced persons or advanced experiences, we must talk clearly about different conditions, and allow for unforeseen circumstances; when we advocate some method or way, we may not  belittle different kinds of feasible methods or ways; when stressing the propaganda on this side, we must also carry out suitable reporting of the other side that is permitted to exists; when social public opinion is overly concentrated on some “hot topic” problems, we must pay attention to suitably divide the steam. Resolving these problems well, must rely on journalists having high levels of responsibility and political sensitivity, and must rely even more on the editor-in-chief’s grasping of the overall picture, and comprehensive arrangement. News and propaganda leading organs must also be guided timely from the macro-level.

Persisting in the Four Cardinal Principles, and opposing bourgeois liberalization are long-term and important tasks at the news battle line. Our strengthening the principle of giving first place to positive propaganda, is an urgent need and real move in realizing this task. An extremely small number of people obstinately persist in bourgeois liberalization, deny the Four Cardinal Principles, and their habitual practice in news reports are to exaggerate and play up negative phenomena in our society and the dark side of things. The reason these people want to set up newspapers and radio stations with the same convictions that enthusiastically, and why they preach so-called “news freedom” so fanatically, is nothing other than to view with us for the Socialist public opinion battleground, in order to unscrupulously “expose” the “corruption” of the Communist Party and the “defeat” of Socialism. This is a crucial point of bourgeois liberalization in the news area. The reason why we must persist in the principle of giving first place to positive propaganda, and propagate the necessity of Communist Party leadership and the superiority of the Socialist system on such a large scale, and propagate the correct leadership of the Party and the real achievements of Socialism, is to be diametrically opposed to bourgeois liberalization. The more vividly and the more richly correct propaganda is carried out, the more powerful the resistance, exposure and counterattack to ideological trends of liberalization will be.

V, Giving high regard to and improving critical newspapers

Persisting in the principle of giving first place to positive propaganda does not mean that critical reporting is prohibited. Giving high regard to and improving critical reporting is similarly decided by the principles of the Socialist nature and the Party nature of the news undertaking. Criticism and self-criticism, including news criticism, are one of the important talismans of our Party’s construction, and is a powerful weapon for our Party to overcome the sneak attacks of negative ideologies and to maintain a healthy organizing. Exactly because of this, our Party has given high regard to launching criticism in newspapers and periodicals throughout its history. As far back as the first period of founding the nation, the Centre specially made the “Decision concerning Launching Criticism and Self-Criticism in Newspapers and Periodicals” aimed at the new situation that our Party’s being in the position of holding power “easily engenders arrogant emotions of refusing criticism and suppressing criticism inside and outside of the Party. On 15 July 1954, the “CCP Central Committee Resolution concerning Improving Newspaper Work” again further clarified provisions: “whether or not newspapers fully launch criticism, whether or not criticism is correct and wither or not cadres enthusiastically welcome and persist in protecting the criticism of workers and the people from top to bottom, are measurements to weigh the Party nature of newspapers, and to weigh the strengths and weaknesses of intra-Party democratic life and Party Committee leadership.” After the 3rd Plenum of the 11th Party Congress, aimed at the situation that this Party tradition had met with grave destruction during the “Cultural Revolution”, it was again reiterated on 29 January 1981 in the “CCP Central Committee Decision concerning Present Newspaper and Periodical News Dissemination and Propaganda Principles” that” “all levels’ Party Committees must be good at utilizing newspapers and periodicals to launch criticism and promote work”. Launching criticism is a requirement for our Party’s leadership undertaking and self-construction, and is an expression of our Party’s self-confidence and strength. Because of this, the question with critical reporting is not a question of prohibition, but is a question of how to persist in and improve it.

Whether or not newspapers, news agencies, radio and television have serious and conscientious criticism, relates to the image of news organs and the effects of news and propaganda. News reporting regularly having a bit of serious and conscientious criticism, advocating something or opposing something, with a clear attitude, may appear as anger or militancy. The aspirations, opinions and requirements of the masses have been reflected, their mood is happy, and their vigour surges. When the emotions of the basses can be mediated through proper channels, it is unlikely to end up in a “total eruption”, and conducive to overall social stability. Conversely, if there is not a bit of criticism, newspaper reporting may appear dull, inflexible, lacking in anger, and lacking in militancy. The key here rests in correctly handling the relationship between positive propaganda and critical reporting well, and handling the relationship between extolling and exposure well. News must both extol grand achievements, and must also launch criticisms against problems that exist; it must both eulogize the magnificent feats of the times, and must also expose negative and evil phenomena. Naturally, positive propaganda must stand on the dominant position, critical and exposing reporting can only occupy a secondary position, and must fully stress grasping proper restraint. When critical things are too many or too concentrated, lengthy and tedious, the effect may not be good. Our critical reporting is not criticism for criticism’s sake, is not for the sake of displaying and playing up backward phenomena, but is for the sake of improving work, resolving problems and strengthening the faith of the people going forward. Critical reporting must have an outcome, have real effects, fully display the determination and strength of the Party and the people to overcome negative images, thereby further uniting, encouraging and inspiring the people, to struggle and strive  for the magnificent objective of realizing the construction of Socialism with Chinese characteristics. Regardless of whether it is praise or criticism, in the end, it must give the people strength, give people confidence, give people courage and give people hope. If negative things are handled appropriately, they may also have a positive function. This is the objective we pursue.

Looking from the present real situation of critical reporting, there are both problems that news work units aren’t very good at criticism, and problems that there are criticizers, including a number of leading organs and leading cadres that aren’t used to not adapt to criticism. Some departments and work units being criticized believe that “dirty linen should not be washed in public”, and consequently intercede everywhere, or set up obstructions, making it difficult for healthy critical reporting to be properly conducted. This sort of situation shall progressively be changed through efforts from all sides. Speaking from news work units, expressing critical reporting must stand on the viewpoint of the Party and people, and with an enthusiastic attitude of resolving problems, select model cases that have a wide educational significance and representativeness. Not only the rationality of problems must be stressed, but the possibility of resolving problems must also be stressed. At the same time, the facts in critical reporting must be absolutely correct, and analysis of problems must be objective. For all critical reporting involving major problems, the relevant higher-level controlling department must be contacted, the opinion of the criticized side heard, and the facts examined. When central news work unit involve localities in critical reporting, they must keep local Party and government leading organs informed, consult with them, and respect their opinions. News workers may not put themselves in the position of “deciding judge”. Mistakes appearing in critical reporting should be openly corrected. Talking from the criticized side, especially when this is a leading cadre or leading organ, they must fully understand and vigorously report criticism coming from news work units, strengthen their adaptation capacity concerning news criticism, consciously pick up the weapon of criticism, rely on the force of public opinion, carry correct tendencies forward, attack evil tendencies and promote work.

VI, Correctly implementing public opinion supervision

Persisting in the principle of giving first place to positive propaganda and correctly implementing public opinion supervision are the same thing. The supervision of news public opinion is essentially the supervision of the people, it is the popular masses conducting supervision through news tools over Party and government work and their work personnel, it is the supervision of the Party and the people through news tools over society, it should not only be seen as news workers’ individual or news work units’ supervision. Public opinion supervision includes critical reporting, but is not simply equal to critical reporting, it has become a sort of effective form for the popular masses to exercise their Socialist democratic rights in our country. The interest and aspirations of the people, the determination and emotions of the people, the opinions and suggestions of the people are all content that the Party and government must constantly give high regard to and consider, reflecting these things through news reporting through news reporting, shaping public opinion, is also public opinion supervision. News public opinion supervision is realized through the efforts of news workers. News journalists aren’t responsible cadres of Party and government, generally speaking, they are not greatly constrained by the concrete position of a certain work unit or organization, and when looking at problems, they can relatively easily be a bit more detached; their life is among the masses, and their hear the real situation relatively easily; they mostly have a relatively high political level and cultural attainment, and can relatively sensitively discover and put forward problems; the work position where they are, has the condition to conveniently and unscrupulously reflect problems to leading organs and even the highest levels of policymaking. Because of this, we must give full regard to the supervision function of news public opinion, and must give full regard to giving rein to the function of news workers in news public opinion supervision.

The news public opinion supervision preached by the bigwigs going after bourgeois liberalization is fundamentally different from what we say. They want to override Party and government and stand opposite to the Party and people to conduct their so-called “supervision”, this sort of “supervision” frequently is ranting about the feelings of dissatisfaction they or the small clique to which they belong have towards the Party and people, and is even an attack on the Party and government. The popular masses basically don’t need this sort of “supervision” and firmly oppose this sort of so-called “supervision”.

Since the public supervision opinion of news is the supervision of the people, news workers must, by hook or by crook, go deeply into the realities of life, take root among the popular masses, meticulously experience, gain insight into and reflect the calls, desires and requirements of the masses. Our news reporting must increase the voices coming from below, represent the talk of the masses, notify superiors of the circumstance of inferiors, and between the broad masses and the Party and government, between all parts of the popular masses, build bridges of mutual understanding and communication, and contribute to realizing the supervision of the popular masses over Party and government work.

Summarizing the experiences of the recent few years, correctly giving rein to the supervising function of news public opinion, shall grasp the following matters: first, news workers must firmly stand on the viewpoint of the interest of the people, which is also standing on the viewpoint of the Party, reflect the calls, desires and requirements of the broad popular masses, this is the basic presupposition and starting point of public opinion supervision. Second, new work units must, through internal reference and internal bulletins reflect problems upwards, must strive for correctness, and may not adulterate matters, in order to avoid providing false information. Third,  the motivating function of news must be given full rein. These problems that the popular masses care for universally and for which there are conditions to resolve them must be selected and openly reported. Where public opinion supervision has had satisfactory conclusions, the masses can gain lessons concerning the Party line, principles and policies from that. Fourth, the Party and government must support and be good at utilizing public opinion supervision to improve and promote work. This is the key of pubic opinion supervision to gain real results. Fifth, news public opinion supervision must be conducted within the scope of the Constitution and laws, news work units and news workers shall also accept the supervision of the Party and people.

VII, Propaganda art must be stressed

If the principle of giving first place to positive propaganda is to be made to gain good effects, we must strive to raise propaganda art. Readers, listeners and viewers are the service  targets of newspapers, radio and television. To serve them with a whole heart and soul, we must first and foremost let them want to listen and want to watch, and to the best of our ability satisfy their different needs. Some positive propaganda content is very vigorous, but by not paying attention to reporting methods, means and technique, or not paying attention to the psychology and acceptance capacity of readers, people will not be willing to listen or willing to watch. Because of this, if no efforts are undertaken to raise propaganda art, the attractiveness, inspiration and persuasiveness of news towards the people is not strengthened, persisting in the principle of giving first place to positive propaganda will be an empty phrase.

Raising propaganda art first and foremost is a question of content. If there is no content attracting the attention of people, the facts of reports have no model significance or deep content, but writing and expression techniques are one-sidedly pursued, there can only be affectation. Conversely, if there is good content, but no attention is paid to expression methods and means, no attention is paid to techniques, it is dry and boring, dull and flavourless, it cannot gain good propaganda effect. What we require is the integration of content and form, the integration of ideology, knowledge and interest. Naturally, this is very hard to achieve completely, but practice demonstrates that as long as the attitude is upright, and energy can blossom, there will certainly be some fruits.

Raising propaganda art also contains a question recognizing the differentiation and specialization of different news work units. Just like any other thing, news tools have their own special characteristics. Talking about newspapers, they also each have their division of labour, if they are not divided along specialty, they are divided along regional lines, or divided along morning newspapers and evening newspapers, consequently they all have their own special tasks and service targets. The name of newspapers is the unification of the special and general. Paying attention to artistry must grasp specialization, between Party newspapers and specialized newspapers, central and local newspapers, as well as the newspapers of different localities, in report content, means and methods, and other aspects, there shall be some differentiation, they shall all give rein to their superiorities, and bring out their own characteristics.

In raising propaganda art, the key lies in that the editors-in-chief, journalists and editors must pluck up their spirits, fully give rein to their initiative, wisdom and talents, and painstakingly strive for change. As long as the broad news workers are filled with enthusiasm in dealing with their readers, viewers and listeners, an provide fine goods with a spirit of utter devotion to the masses in large numbers, they certainly will gain the faith and praise of the people.

VIII, Stressing the characteristics of news work

Persisting in the principle of giving first place to positive propaganda is not to deny the characteristics of news. The people can make many generalizations about the characters of news, but in my view, apart from the Party nature I talked about earlier, we must also pay attention to truth, timeliness and readability. First and foremost, the life of news lies in truth. If truth is deviated from, news has lost its reason of existence. Therefore, we must, just like cherishing our eyes, safeguard the principle of truth in news, persist in preventing and resisting fraud and trickery, arbitrarily bringing up and baselessly fabricating matters and other bad phenomena. We must persist in the principle of raising truth up to the height of persisting in the principle of the Party nature and persisting in the professional morals of news work.

Stressing giving first place to positive propaganda, has truth as a basis. As far back as 1925, Comrade Mao Zedong clearly advocated in his text “‘Political Weekly’ Reasons for Publishing Periodicals”: “Our method of counterattacking enemies, is not to use many arguments, it is only to faithfully report the facts of our revolutionary work. Enemies say: ‘Canton Communists’, we say: ‘Please look at the facts’. Enemies say: ‘Canton internal strive’, we say: ‘please look at the facts’. Enemies say: ‘The Canton government gangs up with Russia, humiliating the nation and forfeiting sovereignty,’ we say: ‘Please look at the facts’. Enemies say: ‘Under the Canton government, people in the abyss of suffering have no means of livelihood’, we say: ‘Please look at the facts.’ Using facts to speak, is the basic principle of our news reporting. The truthfulness of news not only requires that every piece of concretely reported news factors must be completely accurate, but also requires achieving truth, objectivity and completeness in terms of grasping overall news and propaganda. If the negative side is concentrated, eight editions would not be enough every day, and within that, every fact may perhaps be true, but from the overall picture, it completely does not conform to our true situation. Critical reports must undoubtedly seek truth from facts, and be completely true; reports of the positive side, that extol and praise, must also seek truth from facts and be completely true, otherwise, it will not only not give rise to the function of inspiring people’s hearts, but may also engender the opposite effect. The “false, large and empty” in vogue in the “Cultural Revolution”, for the sake of some political need, concretizing some nonexisting facts, this sort of vile style must be prohibited. In news practice, it cannot be said that there are no wilful fabrications, but these, in de end, are extremely few and far between. But because of low political levels, undeep investigation, or because of carelessness or rashness, it is a common matter that appearances of untruthfulness are created. Therefore, the method of going to the bottom of things is the work style of raising news teams’ Marxist levels, advocating going deep into reality, investigation and research, hard work and care and the work ethic of being serious and conscientious, neglecting no detail. Editorial departments must consider this matter as a large matter, and annually grasp it a few times. Otherwise, our news will not have credibility and not have authoritativeness among the popular masses, and the prestige of the Party and government may also be influenced because of this.

News is surnamed new. If things must be new, we must talk about timeliness. If we are slow by three beats, circumstances have changed, and there is no more news to talk about. Especially in the present society, communication tools and exporting methods become more modern every day, situations are changing fast, we again are under a condition of opening up, information extends in all direction, competition becomes stronger every day. How the militancy and attractiveness of news are, to a large extent depends on the speed of transmission. Some major events and sudden incidents, if we are slow in acting in reporting, frequently are caught in extremely large passiveness. The “Voice of America” has produced its vile effects during this turmoil and counterrevolutionary riot, apart from starting large amounts of rumours, an important reason is that it reports rapidly, and used people’s psychology of “first impressions are the strongest”. We must come to understand the question of timeliness from the height of the fighting force, attractiveness and competitiveness of news, as far as possible rapidly provide large amounts of information that the people urgently need to understand, and overawe others by displaying out strength. This requires to look in all directions and to listen to all sides, have insight into the wind and clouds of all under haven; at the same time, there is the work style and spiritual attitude of racing against the time. At the same time, attention must be paid to grasping the opportune moment of news reporting. Fast is a relative concept, new is not to seek novelty. When stressing timeliness, we must start from the requirements of safeguarding the interest of the country and the people, cautiously consider the time, line of action and effects of reporting, cannot be fast for the sake of being fast, we must not only be good at snatching, sometimes we must also be good at pressing down. If major sudden events are encountered, and for a short wile, the situation is not yet very clear, manuscripts can absolutely not be issued simply for the sake of worrying about foreigners snatching news away from us even more rashly, with the result that reports are inaccurate, harm the interest of the Party and people, and even gravely influence the larger picture of security and unity. Sometimes, in order to provide information as soon as possible, simple information may be published further, and further reporting can be added later. There are some circumstances under which we may do more and talk less, some where we can only do and not talk, and what should not be reported should absolutely not reported. Generally speaking, what we pursue should be high timeliness conform to the basic interest of the party and the people, is the high timeliness subordinate to the Party and State leading organs, under relevant regulations, it is the high timeliness under the presupposition of correctness and truth.

Strengthening the readability of news is for the sake of letting it enter into people’s ears, people’s eyes, people’s brains and peoples hearts as far as possible. To this end, writing styles must be forcefully improved, overcoming eight-legged twaddle, offering news with diversified forms and vivacity to the broad readers, letting people love to see and hear it, becoming a good teacher and helpful friend. Our Communist Party relies on the truth for food and relies on the truth to serve people. We must let people obtain conclusions themselves from large amounts of news, and must not point fingers or impose views on the people. All news with strong readability, mainly has the characteristic of sticking close to the masses and sticking close to life. People not only must work or study, they must also eat and be entertained at the same time. The needs of people are divers, our reporting should also be broad, regardless of whether it is within eight hours, or outside of the eight hours, people should all be able to find things they are interested in in news. Therefore, as long as it is beneficial knowledge and it is a healthy interest, it should be advocated and disseminated.

IX, Continuing to persist in news reform

We have already entered a new period of Socialist modernization construction, reform and opening up. The domestic and foreign social environment in which news and propaganda find themselves, the content, methods and service targets of propaganda reports, have all seen very large changes, news must adapt to trends and conduct deep reforms. If news reform is similar to reform in other areas, it isn’t a question of not wanting to reform, but is a question of how to reform. It should be pointed out that this sort of reform must persist in the Socialist orientation, must benefit strengthening and improving the Party’s leadership over news work. The opening of private persons running newspapers and stations cannot be opened. The capitalist view of news cannot be used in handling news reform, and Western news structures and models cannot be copied. The objective of our Socialist news reform is letting news work conform to the principle of the Party nature of news even more, abide by news rules even better, give rein to the function of modern public opinion tools, give rein to the function of news as the ears, eyes and mouthpieces of the Party, the government and the people. When news reform is done well, it will also be conducive to the satisfactory implementation of the principle of giving first place to positive propaganda. At present, in doing news reform well, the following points may be considered.

– We must perfect the internal leadership structure of news work units. In work units implementing an editor-in-chief (president, station head) responsibility system, the editor in chief should hold the position and the power. They must dare to be responsible for the work in their own scope of responsibility, handle matters decisively, fully give rein to their own intelligence and ability, and give rein to their initiative and creative spirit. Local Party Committees must fully understand and forcefully support this, and should not excessively intervene. Editors-in-chief should timely ask the Centre and local Party Committees for instructions concerning a number of important discussions and sensitive questions, in order to avoid and reduce mistakes. Inside the newspaper publisher, the hierarchical responsibility systems of journalists and editors to the department head and department heads to the editor in chief must be perfected.

– We must let the foothold of news reporting truly shift towards facing the masses. We must raise the running of newspapers, television and radio to the height of serving the people wholeheartedly, satisfying the people’s spiritual life needs, fully utilize limited page space, screen space and time to provide some information the broad masses need as much as possible, reflect their calls and requirements, and provide excellent services in many aspects to the masses. We must further expand newspaper reporting from the angle of the masses’ concerns, needs and understanding, and make broad reports of newly-happening events in all aspects domestically and abroad; we must continue to compress reporting of the daily life of all levels’ leading cadres, what needs to be reported are the activities of leaders, apart from major State affairs and State events, we must fix eyes upon tightening the relationship and communications between cadres and masses. We must propagate the creative activities of the popular masses in the constructions of the Four Modernizations, reform and opening up from many sides, making them gain full reflection in our newspapers, on television and radio.

– We must reform news propaganda content. We must strengthen and improve economic propaganda, and provide broad information for economic policymaking, production, business and management. We must strengthen science and technology propaganda, disseminate scientific and technological knowledge through all forms and stimulate scientific and technological progress. We must strengthen propaganda on Socialist democracy and the legal system, disseminate legal knowledge, and strengthen people’s ideas of the legal system. These propaganda matters, and especially economic propaganda, must change the situation of abstruseness, become vivid and vigorously, explaining the profound in simple terms, and link up closely with the people’s lives as far as possible, letting even more people see and hear it.

– We must reform the forms of news and propaganda. Newspapers are reporting news. If we want to expand the information quantity in newspapers, we must have more reports and short news. Our news must be a bit shorter, another bit shorter, and another bit shorter, changing the present situation of excessively many large articles and long speeches in newspapers, excessively many special sections, excessively many meeting reports and news about leaders’ daily life. Leading comrades’ general speeches and articles, in all cases where they are overly long, should be submitted for newspaper publication after summarizing, or only be mentioned to in information. For reports and investigation reports with important content but that are overly long, serialization methods divided among different days may be adopted. Academic research and theoretical propaganda articles published in newspapers should generally not be too long, some long articles with very many new ideas may be submitted to periodicals for publications, and newspapers print outlines. As for these articles that bluff and bluster, but are just empty words, newspaper have the power to refuse publication or reprinting. The titles of newspapers must formulate the necessary information, must be to the point, eye-catching and transmitted as much as possible, page layout must give prominence to focus points, be novel and unique.

In news reform, correctly dealing with the relationship between social interest and economic interest must be correctly dealt with, and social interest must be put first from beginning to end. Advertising may not be overly many or excessive, and may not foment harmful fads of highly praising foreign goods or pursuing extravagant spending in society. “Paid-for news” is strictly prohibited. All sorts of “earned income” in news work units, must be earnestly rectified. After rectification, their funding and income may be reduced, relevant government departments shall design methods to help them resolve difficulties.

X, Raising news team quality

In the forty years since founding the nation, and especially in the ten years of reform and opening up, the achievements and contributions of news work illustrate that our news teams generally are good, march with the Party, and are reliable. Our Party has made mistakes in the process of leading Socialist construction, run into setbacks, and the Party’s guidance over news workers has sometimes lost the suitable position. The broad news workers have, under difficult conditions, worked diligently, worked hard and endured criticism, this sort of spirit merits praise. Among our middle-age and young journalists and news-editing teams, there are already a batch of up-and-coming talents with strong politics, excellent work spirits and skills that can stand all tests that came to the fore, we shall continue to continuously straiten requirements of them, and meticulously foster them. It must be pointed out that during this turmoil and counterrevolutionary riot, concerning mistakes in news public opinion guidance orientations, the situation of all work units was different, and respective lessons should be learned, but generally speaking, the main responsibility is with the main Central leading comrades. A few degenerates have emerged among news teams, but the majority of comrades have undergone the test, and especially there were not a few main responsible persons in news work units, who under extremely complicated and difficult circumstances, clearly differentiated right and wrong, stood form in their positions, and did much work for the Party and the people.

But, because in recent years, newspaper teams developed too rapidly, fostering and education workers has not followed, in addition, the influences of bourgeois liberalization and harmful tendencies in society are also problems that existed in no small number among news teams. Correspondingly many comrades’ Marxism-Leninism theory levels are not high. The fine traditions of the Party’s news work have not been inherited and carried forward well in our news teams, capitalist news views still have a certain market. A number of comrades’ work style is not deep, their basic editing and writing skills are not solid, some even violate the personal integrity and professional ethics of news workers, commercialize news, pursuing private gain. This sort of situation illustrates that, if great efforts are not made to grasp raising news team quality, improving news work cannot be talked about, the principle of giving first place to positive propaganda will also not gain correct and effective implementation.

Raising the quality of news teams, is a strategic task at the news battle line. At present, we must first and foremost continue to earnestly do investigation and clean-up work well. We must fully estimate the gravity of bourgeois liberalization’s influence on news teams, connect ideology and reality, deeply criticize capitalist news views and eliminate their influence; persons obstinately persisting in bourgeois liberalization must be removed from news work positions. At the same time, we must realistically grasp news work unit leading rank construction, bring a number of comrades with strong politics, a certain theoretical level and professional abilities up to leadership ranks. Leading personnel at the news battle line must be good at observing and analysing changing circumstances from the overall picture and from politics, grasp propaganda policies and strategies well, persist in “politicians running newspapers”. We must realistically strengthen newspaper work personnel training work. We must organize everyone to earnestly study Marxist theory, strengthen professional ethics education and cultural professional training, and through social practice and news practice, raise everyone’s ideological and political levels, and news professional levels. For young journalists lacking real experience, we must create conditions to let them regularly get in touch with reality, and even send them to the grass roots to do a spell of real work. News work units must strictly be allocated staff, personnel can go in and go out. We must stress the selection of some  comrades having practical experience and who are experienced in news work and bring them into news teams.

XI, Straiten news propaganda discipline

News workers must be examples of abiding the Constitution and laws, and earnestly implementing the Party’s principles and policies. Under this precondition, news workers have a broad heaven and earth to sweep the length and breadth of, they may fully give rein to their own wisdom and talents, create vivid and vigorous news reports, that are rich and varied, and all have characteristics. At present, the reason to especially stress news propaganda discipline, not only considers that this is a requirement for the Party nature of news, and news workers must maintain consistency with the Party Centre in political affairs, and at the same time it also considers that news team quality rising must have a process. Because news employees all have differences in their own work history, political quality, policy levels and professional levels, it is hard to completely avoid that mishaps occur here and there in work. Under this sort of situation, stressing strict news propaganda discipline is conducive to reducing mishaps, and conducive to news workers obtaining training and improvement under strict requirements.

Newspapers and periodicals under the Party leadership must propagate the Party’s line, principles, policies and decisions, this is discipline. If individuals have different views, different opinions may be preserved, or according to certain organizational procedures, put forward, but it is absolutely not permitted to use public opinion tools held b oneself to express opinions that conflict with Centre decisions, it is absolutely not permitted to use news public opinion tools to wilfully express individual or clique views, determinations and emotions.

Articles published by Western, Hong Kong and Taiwan anti-Communist newspapers and periodicals that attack us or sow discord, may not be wantonly reprinted. Party members and cadres also may not privately establish connections with foreign anti-Communist newspapers and periodicals, or provide internal Party and government materials to them. It is absolutely not permitted to publish articles opposing the Party’s position in these reactionary newspapers and periodicals.

News work units must strengthen their sense of secrecy, straiten secret-keeping discipline, complete secret-keeping systems. Important news where the Centre authorized relevant news work units to publish it, other news work units may not vie to be first. We must stress differentiation between inside and outside, secrets that news employees learn about in their work, may absolutely not divulged to unconnected persons, and may certainly not be disseminated through all sort of gossip information. Those violating news and propaganda discipline, must absolutely be earnestly prosecuted, and according to different situations, be given criticism, education, Party or government disciplinary punishments; of those violating criminal law, criminal responsibility must also be prosecuted. Otherwise, it will be insufficient to change the situation that discipline has been loosened for a long time in a number of work units.

XII, Strengthening the leadership of Party committees over news work

Comrade Mao Zedong pointed out: “organizing newspapers well, making newspapers become fascinating, correctly propagating the Party’s principles and policies in newspapers, strengthening the connection of the Party with the masses through newspapers, this is a question that cannot be belittled  and has a major principle significance in our work.” All levels’ Party committees must give this high regard, realistically strengthen leadership over the news undertaking, especially under the present circumstances, and should give even more regard to news work than under any time in the past, closely grasping public opinion tools in their hands.

Party Committees strengthening leadership over news work, should mainly grasp large problems and problems of orientation. These include: selecting and appointing excellent cadres loyal to the undertaking of the Party to undertake leading work in news work units; regularly researching propaganda work; recruiting presidents and editors-in-chief to attend as non-voting delegates in relevant Party Committee meetings, creating conditions to let them understand leading organs’ policymaking and decisions earlier, and know the situations of the larger pictures a bit better; timely putting forward guiding opinions aimed at the positive side and especially in major issues; timely issuing alerts or even conducting the necessary gatekeeping concerning problems that may occur in public opinion guidance; stimulating news work units’ leaders to grasp internal ideology education work well; helping news work units to resolve real difficulties that they are not strong enough to resolve themselves, etc. As for the daily propaganda and reporting work of newspapers and periodicals, it includes daily layout arrangement, all levels’ Party and government leaders may let news work unit comrades handle this appropriately by themselves.

The main responsible comrades in Party Committees must grasp news work themselves, and be good at using public opinion tools to promote work in the larger picture. Using public opinion tools to mobilize the masses, disseminate experience and guide work, should become a basic skill for leaders. Large numbers of facts prove that, during key periods, in whether or not news and public opinion can maintain the correct orientation, the firm leadership of Party Committees is a decisive factor. Because of this, concerning speech, information and articles that may influence the overall picture, Party Committee main responsible comrades should realistically take up the responsibility for political gatekeeping, and when necessary, should draft or revise these themselves. As long as all levels’ Party Committees truly give high regard to news and propaganda, and realistically strengthen leadership, our news undertakings certainly will be full of vitality, and be organized ever better.

The meaning of all of the above points, is to be found in a number of main issues in the present news and propaganda work, have a relatively clear way of saying it, and have a basis that can be followed. Whether or not these objectives can be achieved, I hope everyone will broadly express opinions, supplement and revise matters.
































































One thought on “Persisting in the Principle of Giving First Place to Positive Propaganda

    […] – Giving first place to positive propaganda: this propaganda principle was instituted after 1989, as the Party had noticed that a loss of control over the press had led to visible leadership splits, which were exploited by dissenting voices concerned about inflation, employment and other matters. As a result, the decision was taken to focus on positive, rather than negative news. In fact, there’s a whole speech about this. […]

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