Concerning Some Problems in Our Party’s News Work

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Jiang Zemin

(28 November 1989)

The Central Propaganda Department organized this news work deliberation class, it is very timely and very necessary. From now on, in all our battle lines, we may regularly organize deliberation classes such as this, link theory with reality, timely summarize experiences, and research a number of problems, this is very beneficial to improving our work.

In the speech of Comrade Deng Xiaoping on 9 June, he required us to “soberly consider the past, and consider the future”. He said: “we must earnestly summarize experiences, the good ones must be continued, the wrong ones must be corrected, the insufficient ones must be given a bit more energy. Generally speaking, we must summarize the present and look towards the future.”

In this news work deliberation class, everyone summarizes the experiences and lessons from the last few years, and especially this turmoil and counterrevolutionary riot, for how to improve news work, not a few good opinions have been spoken, and not a few good suggestions have been put forward. Comrade Ruihuan put forward many important points of view on how to do positive propaganda well in his speech, he spoke very clearly and very concretely. Today, I want to stress a few problems and discuss them with the comrades. These problems have been discussed by everyone, some are stressed again, for some, a few opinions will be supplemented.

I, The problem of the position and function of news work

Throughout its history, our Party has given extremely high regard to new work. From beginning to end it has been believed that our country’s newspapers, radio, television, and so on are the mouthpieces of the Party, the government and the people. This has both explained the nature of news work, and has explained the extremely important position and function it has in Party and State work.

Why can our news work have such an important position and function? This is because it acts as a modernized means of dissemination, and is able to implement the Party’s line, principles and policies among the people in the fastest and broadest way, and to turn them into real action by the masses; it is able to broadly reflect the opinions, calls, determination and aspirations of the masses; it is able to timely disseminate all sorts of domestic and international information, directly influences the masses’ thoughts, actions and political orientation, to guide, mobilize and organize the masses to struggle to understand and realize their own interests.

Everyone knows, that Comrade Mao Zedong once said in his “Talks with the Editing Personnel of the Jinsui Daily” in 1948, the function and strength of newspapers lies in being able to let the Party’s programme, line, principles and policies, work tasks and work methods, meet with the people most rapidly and broadly.” He also said: “They are good at changing Party policies into mass action, are good at not only letting leading cadres understand all campaigns and all struggles, but also to let the broad masses be able to understand them and grasp them, this is a Marxist leadership art.” “When the masses know the truth, and have a common objective, they will do it with one mind.” “When the masses are of one mind, all matters will be done well”.

Since the 3rd Plenum of the 11th Party Congress, our news undertaking has developed very rapidly, in the same way as all undertakings in construction and reform. The news world has also brought order our of chaos, and rectified “leftist” errors, it has shifted the focus of Party work towards the economy, has persisted in the Four Cardinal Principles, persisted in reform and opening up, has made many contributions to moving Socialist modernization construction forward, and has given rein to an important function in propagating and implementing the line since the 3rd Plenum of the 11th Party Congress and a series of major policies and principles. Ten years later, our achievements that have attracted worldwide attention, include the labour and toil of news workers. This must be fully affirmed.

But we must soberly be aware that, the flood of the ideological trend of bourgeois liberalization, up to the turmoil and counterrevolutionary riot at the end of this year’s spring, has revealed that not a few problems still exist in the news world, and that some are correspondingly grave. Naturally, there are those that showed themselves very well, such as the “Liberation Army Daily”, the “Beijing Daily” and many provincial, municipal and autonomous region newspapers, but there indeed were not a few who vacillated, and there were still some who changed direction. Especially a number of main news work units of the Centre’s first level and the “World Economic Guide” in Shanghai, since a while, have disseminated not a few bourgeois liberalization viewpoints, and marched ever further during the period of turmoil. They not only did not propagate the correct voice of the Centre, instead, they violated the Centre’s correct principles and policies, and openly sung a different tune; they not only did not go to expose and criticize bourgeois liberalization and stop the turmoil, instead, they provided a public opinion battleground for the plotters and supporters, and had an effect of inflaming people and adding fuel to the flames during the formation and development of the turmoil, creating extremely large confusion among the masses. Their influence is very bad, the lessons deep. This also illustrates from the negative side the extreme importance of news work, if public opinion tools are not grasped in true Marxists’ hands, and public opinion guidance is not conducted according to the will and interests of the Party and the people, it may bring about may grave, dangerous and huge losses.

It can be said like this, in the face of this grave test, many news work units were good, but some news work units have not passed the exam, some even can be said to have been utterly routed. Naturally, when I say here “not passing the exam”, is not to say that the news workers in these news work units all haven’t passes, the majority of comrades among them are also good, but it is to say that grave mistakes have occurred in these news work units concerning public opinion guidance.

The main responsibility for the appearance of these mistakes, the occurrence of these problems is with the main central leading comrades. As far as these news work units are concerned, the responsible comrades there, also have a part of responsibility of their own.

This storm is already past. After the 4th Plenum of the 13th Party Congress, the situation on the news battle line is good. The broad news workers vigorously propagate the Party and government principles and policies, and have made their own contributions to speedily stabilize the situation in the entire country and move all work forward. These work units in which mistakes have occurred in public opinion orientation have already been turned around. But we cannot yet appraise matters to highly the transformation of thought is not the work of a single morning or evening. We must truly resolve ideological problems, and must do large amounts of deep and meticulous work.

The problems of the present are that we must continue to soberly rethink matters, earnestly summarize experiences and draw lessons. After having walked a crooked path and having met with defeat, the most important thing is to be able to learn from our mistakes. This work of summarizing experiences must be done deeply, and it must be absolutely stressed that it cannot be a matter of going through the motions, and cannot be done perfunctorily. This lesson is to deep, the harm to the undertaking of our Party and country is too large, from now on, we can absolutely not permit recurrence.

II, The problem of the basic principles in news work

The socialist news undertaking is the same as the Socialist literary, artistic, publishing and other undertakings, although they all have their own characteristics and concrete development rules, they all are component parts in the ideological sphere, and must all serve Socialism and serve the people. Even though the concrete form, content and methods of service are not completely the same, they must all abide by this basic principle.

Our Party guides news work, and there are many other principles and policies. These principles and policies all embody and submit to the Party line and this basic principle.

We often say, serving the people wholeheartedly, is the basic purpose of the Party. Our Party’s leadership over the broad popular masses, during the period of the new democratic revolution, has overturned three large mountains, and realized the national liberation and social liberation of the people; after the establishment of the New China, we engaged in the Socialist transformation of private ownership of the means of production, and eliminated the exploiting system; after the establishment of the Socialist system, we strove to conduct economic construction, and especially since the 3rd Plenum of the 11th Party Congress, we concentrated forces to develop social productivity, perfect the socialist system and incessantly improve the people’s material and cultural life. These are all different historical period, in which the highest and most basic interests of the people were served. Therefore, now serving Socialism is completely identical to serving the people. Deviating from the Socialist path, is also basically deviating from the people, and violating the people’s highest interest.

In the new historical period, news work that persists in serving Socialism and serving the people, must firmly and completely correctly propagate the basic Party line, propagate the theory and policies of constructing Socialism with Chinese characteristics, and propagate the achievements and experiences from the people of all ethnicities in the entire nation in modernization construction, reform and opening up. At present, the broad cadres and masses all are implementing the spirit of the 4th and 5th Plenum, all news work units must closely revolve around safeguarding and developing a secure and united political picture, move improvement, rectification and deepening reform forward, realize sustained, stable and coordinated development of the national economy, strengthen Socialist spiritual civilization construction, and deploy and launch news and propaganda work.

International hostile forces are intensifying their practice of peaceful evolution strategies against Socialist countries. A good few Eastern European countries have suddenly suffered unrest. A number of western countries continue to implement “economic sanctions” against our country, our national economy faces not a few difficulties, a number of people obstinately persisting in capitalist liberalization standpoints wait for an opportunity to act, some have not yet stopped their activities. In the face of such intricate and complex international and domestic circumstances, Comrade Xiaoping reminded us again and again: the most important thing is national stability, stability overwhelms everything. We must maintain a sober brain, consolidate our own front line, calmly approach all sorts of problems. Persisting in the Socialist road, must be extremely clear and extremely firm. We must, just like Comrade Mao Zedong said, during times of difficulty, look at results, look at the light, raise our faith and courage. At present, we must especially stress  conducting patriotic, Socialist, collectivist, education and education on maintaining independence, self-regeneration, working diligently in spite of difficulties, and building up the country through thrift and ardour in the whole society, encourage the popular masses’ ethnic self-respect and self-confidence, inspire spirits, be of one heart and mind, vanquish difficulties, and incessantly push the construction and reform of our country forward. In these aspects, the Centre has placed great expectations on the broad news workers, and hopes that everyone fully gives rein to vigour ad creativity, and contributes their own intelligence and ability.

III, The problem of the Party nature of news work

Our news work is an important component part of the overall undertaking of the Party. Therefore, it goes without saying that we must persist in the principle of the Party nature. This is, of course, well known by the comrades at the news battle line and especially the older comrades. But, in recent years, some people have unexpectedly started questioning this basic issue, some even advocated that the so-called democratic nature is higher than the Party nature.

Our party is the vanguard of the working classes, and represents the basic interest of the working class and the broadest popular masses, apart from the basic interest of the working class and the popular masses, it does not have any interest of its own. Persisting in the principle of the Party nature, is also to persist in the principle of the basic interest of the working class and the popular masses, the two are completely identical. Putting forward that the “democratic nature” is higher than the Party nature, essentially is to deny and cat off the leadership of the Party over then news undertaking. If it is said that before, we had some comrades who did not see the substance of these viewpoints too clearly, now, through this turmoil and counterrevolutionary riot, they understand it thoroughly and it has become abundantly clear.

In the turmoil, an extremely small number of people who obstinately persist in bourgeois liberalization viewpoints flaunt the banner of the “democratic nature”, they pose as representing the people, and hence resist and oppose the correct policy of the Party Centre to stop the turmoil and put down the counterrevolutionary riot. In fact, the work units dominated by persons persisting in bourgeois liberalization basically are not mouthpieces representing the people’s interest and disseminating the voices of the people, but have become tools for violating the will of the people, and producing public opinion opposing the Party and opposing the Socialist system.

Persisting in the principle of the Party nature, requires that news and propaganda must maintain consistency with the Party Centre politically. All levels’ Party newspapers must act in this way, departmental and specialist newspapers must also act in this way. Although many newspapers do not carry an inherent political nature, as regards the news and propaganda of any newspaper, radio station or television station generally, this cannot be separated from politics. In these few years, the formulation of “weakening” politics has emerged in the news world. But in fact, an extremely small number of people has not “weakened” their politics, but strengthened their bourgeois standpoints, and intensified activities denying the Four Cardinal Principles. News and propaganda maintaining consistency with the Party Centre politically absolutely is not mechanically and simply repeating some political slogans, but is to stand on the standpoint of the Party and people, adopt many kinds of diverse methods to vividly and vigorously reflect and concentrate the Party’s political viewpoints, principles and policies in news, reporting, discussion, images, titles, writings and all other aspects.

Persisting in the principle of the Party nature, requires that news workers must maintain the broadest and deepest connection with the popular masses, and derive wisdom and strength from the practice of the masses. In these few years, many excellent news workers have exactly done this. They have written large amounts of good works reflecting the historical creative activities of the popular masses, which have received praise from the masses. But, there really are also a number of news workers, who did not diligently reflected the deeply moving achievements that the broad workers, peasants, intellectuals and Liberation Army officers and men contributed selflessly and worked oblivious of their own interests in construction and reform, and even pursued treachery and monstrosity in their writing and level, becoming ever more removed from the masses.

I’d like to use this opportunity to put forward an eager hope to the entire body of news workers: go into life, go into the masses. Go back to the basics, the creators of material wealth are the masses, the creators of spiritual wealth are the masses as well. The great practice of the masses engaging in Socialist modernization construction and reform, is an endless source of raw material, inspiration, thoughts and artistic technique for news works and writing. Our news workers must conscientiously learn from the masses, learn from their excellent character, precious experience, rich knowledge, lively language, and strive to become news workers that are deeply welcomed by the masses.

To persist in the principle of the Party nature, we must persist in unwaveringly oppose bourgeois liberalization and clearly show our colours in news and propaganda. We cannot be careless in this point. In the past few years, there have been repeated rise and falls in this struggles, with the result that liberalization ideology trends became worse and worse, and ultimately bred this turmoil and counterrevolutionary riot. The lessons of history are not far away, our news workers and the comrades in the entire Party must firmly remember this lesson paid for in blood, and can absolutely not repeat this mistake. The ideological sphere, if it is not occupied by Socialist ideology, will inevitably be occupied by capitalist ideology. This is a truth, and should become the maxim of all our news workers and propaganda workers. Our newspapers and periodicals, radio and television, from now on, cannot be permitted to provide battlegrounds for capitalist liberalization again. As for this extremely small number of people who in recent years disseminated capitalist liberalization viewpoints,  such as so-called political pluralism, economic privatization, middle class theory, complete Westernization theory, the theory that Marxism-Leninism is outmoded, etc., all news work units must earnestly and vigorously organize forces, and on the basis of their own reading public, write a batch of convincing, high-quality critical articles, in order to clear up the ideological confusion created by these reactionary and erroneous viewpoints in people’s mind. Marxism is persisted in and developed in struggle. Only by overcoming wrong things, will we be able to benefit the establishment and development of correct things. Only by conducting this sort of grave and scientific criticism, will we be able to unify thoughts, strengthen unity and stabilize the larger picture.

IV, The problem of “news freedom”

In recent years, “news freedom” became an important slogan for an extremely small number who obstinately persisted in bourgeois liberalization viewpoints to struggle with the Party and the people. They know fully that, if they have this sort of freedom, they may without limits attack the Party, attack Socialism, wantonly propagate their political viewpoints, mess people’s thoughts, mess up our country, to reach their political objective.

Any freedom is always not abstract but concrete, it is not absolute but it is relative. In any single country, unlimited “news freedom” does not exist. The opposition between Socialism and capitalism that exists internationally, under circumstances of domestic class struggle still existing to a certain extent, freedom cannot but have a class nature.

“News freedom” as flaunted by Western countries, essentially is the news freedom of the capitalist class, and serves to safeguard the interests of the capitalist class and the capitalist system. The law of Western countries has many limits on news activities, such as provisions that it is prohibited to carry national military secrets; it is prohibited to incite rebellions or insurrections; they may not violate social order; they may not slander other persons, etc. The news undertaking of Western countries, regardless of whether it is organized by Parties or governments, or run by private persons, they all have a financial consortium or political consortium as background. If activities of news employees, they violate the will or interests of the financial consortium or political consortium to which they belong, they are fired. As far as the labouring masses are concerned, even if there are provisions on the freedom to run news undertakings in the texts of the law, in face, this cannot be realized. Over there, in the end, having money means having freedom, not having money means not having freedom, how much money you have is how much freedom you have. Sometimes, newspapers also carry a some things in which the capitalist class mutually expose each other’s misdeeds, and they mutually quarrel, giving the people a semblance of news freedom. In fact, this sort of freedom also is not unlimited, and still has not harming the overall interest of the capitalist class as precondition. As for news activities attempting to change the capitalist system, the law has never abandoned punishment.

Under the Socialist system, news is not longer a privately owned undertaking, but is the undertaking of the Party and the undertaking of the People. Our Constitution provides that freedom of speech and publication are basic rights of citizens of the People’s Republic of China. The broad popular messes enjoy the right and freedom to use news tools to fully express opinions and express their will according to the law, and enjoy the right and freedom to conduct public opinion supervision over State and societal affairs. It is in order to safeguard the people’s basic rights and interests, that it is not only impossible to grant freedom to all unlawful news activities plotting to change the Socialist system, but that it must be sanctioned according to the law.

International hostile forces and domestic people obstinately persisting in bourgeois liberalization viewpoints, have made “news freedom” into an important tool to realize peaceful evolution. This problem, especially where our news workers are concerned, we must soberly understand, we must maintain high vigilance, and unforgivingly expose their deception.

Here, I’d also like to speak a little about something that was fashionable for a certain period, the problem of putting forward so-called “transparency”. This problem must be concretely analysed. There are some things that should be transparent and indeed must be transparent, there are some things that cannot be transparent right away, and can only be made transparent when the opportunity is ripe, there are some things that cannot be transparent. There are some affairs that are limited to being known and grasped by a part of personnel, but this does not mean that they have some special privilege, but is its because of the needs of work, or the needs of the undertaking. In military affairs, foreign relations affairs, political affairs, economic affairs, scientific and technological affairs, etc., there are some things that fall under State secrets, and cannot be seen in various newspapers, on radio or television. This is so in any country. Requiring that any situation is transparent, and thinking that only this is democratic or free, is not being young and ignorant, it is having an ulterior motive. What can be transparent, what cannot be transparent, to what a bit of transparency can be added, must all have the Party’s interest, the State’s interest, the nation’s interest and the people’s interest as standard, and it must be considered whether or not they benefit social stability, political stability, economic stability and stability in people’s hearts.

V, The problem of the truth of news

The truthfulness of news, is the ideological line that the Party starts from reality in everything, and seeks truth from facts, in news work. We candidly point out the principles of class nature and Party nature in news work, because the class nature and Party nature of our news work are consistent with truthfulness.

Socialism is the new-born social system in human history, it is hard to avoid that it will encounter difficulties on the road ahead, or suffer setbacks, but it can overcome any difficulty, conquer any complication, and incessantly develop ahead, revealing an unconquerable vitality. Through construction and reform, our Socialist material civilization and spiritual civilization will develop ever more, our Socialist system will be come ever more perfect, and will reveal ever more superiority. Our Party and State undertakings flourish more every day. This requires news and propaganda to strive to bring this basic fact to light in all aspects. Just like Comrade Ruihuan stressed in his speech, we must give first place to propagating the positive side. We must propagate the new achievements, new creations, and new experiences of the popular masses in practice with great enthusiasm and let the masses see their own wisdom and strength, raising their Socialist vigour. We must regularly reflect the opinions and requirements of the masses. We must maintain the openness of all democratic channels, and cannot block criticism.

Real life is complex, and looking for a few examples to prove any viewpoint is not difficult. When one leaf blocks the eyes, one cannot see Mount Tai, grasping one point and not touching upon the rest, even though this leaf or this point really exists, generally speaking, truthfulness has been deviated from. Therefor, our news workers must achieve that they truly reflect life, which means that they must deeply conduct investigation and research, not only achieving that the individual facts they report are true and correct, but they must especially stress and be good at grasping the truthfulness of things from the general and essential angles and from development trends. We must prevent against the search for rarities and the hunt for the unusual, and prevent against groundless accusations. We must, under the preconditions of truth and correctness, stress timeliness.

In social life, there is a bright side, and there is also a dark side. The situation and nature of the dark side have nothing in common. As for the problem of plotting to subvert our Socialist republic and overthrowing Communist Party leadership, which has a class struggle nature, we must expose this while clearly showing our colours, the objective is to attack hostile forces; concerning flaws and mistakes among the people, these should also be exposed and criticized, but this sort of exposure and criticism must be “disappointment that iron does not become steel”, the objective is to help overcome flaws and rectify mistakes in a comradely spirit. Concerning criticism of flaws and mistakes in Party and government work, as long as it is well-intentioned and benefits improving work, we should all enthusiastically welcome it. Important critical reports must be communicated to relevant leading work units, and their opinions heard. After critical reports are published, the result of handling the problem must also be published, this also benefits raising the prestige of newspapers.

VI, The problem of Party leadership over news work

Strengthening Party leadership over news work mainly means that we must grasp the political orientation of news and propaganda well, grasp news reform well, grasp summarizing the experiences in news work well, grasp news team construction, and especially the construction of leading ranks well. At present, we must earnestly conduct investigation and clean-up work, and especially must inspect clearly the situation of leadership ranks and cadres in key departments. Leadership power must absolutely be closely grasped in the hands of Marxists. We must unite the absolute majority of comrades.

All levels’ Party Committees must frequently research and discuss news work. For example, the propaganda policies, guiding ideologies, reporting focus points, propaganda effects, etc., should all be discussed in Party Committees every period. Party Committees’ main responsible comrades must themselves inquire about news and propaganda. They must timely report situations to news work units, transmit tasks, put forward requirements, and check important editorials, comments and news contributions themselves. Concerning difficulties encountered by news work units in their work, they must give full concern, and assist in their resolution. They must, together with comrades in news work units, research how to incessantly raise the level and effect of news and propaganda, and run newspapers, radio and television in an attractive and infectious way, causing readers, listeners and viewers to love to read, love to listen and love to watch.

In recent decades, the Party led news undertakings, and accumulated rich experiences, it has its own excellent traditions and excellent work styles. We must, on the basis of the changes in circumstances of real life today, inherit and carry forward these good experiences, good traditions and good work styles. Our news reform also faces many new tasks. The objective of reform, is exactly to cause news to become an even better mouthpiece for the Party, the government and the people, and even better give rein to a vigorous function in Socialist modernization construction. I hope that the comrades truly look closely at the new international and domestic circumstances, and incessantly strengthen Marxist theory study and news work study in practice, causing our Socialist new understanding to become ever better.














































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