President Xi Jinping's inspection tour to three leading news providers on Friday was lauded by reporters, experts and students majoring in journalism.
During a tour to the People's Daily, Xinhua News Agency and China Central Television and at a symposium afterwards, Xi, who is also general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, urged the news outlets to follow the Party's leadership and focus on "positive reporting."
Journalists supported the president's instruction that the media should work to guide public opinion in the right direction.
Zhang Tie, a senior editorial writer at the People's Daily, told Xinhua that it is the responsibility of all the media run by the CPC to uphold and spread the "mainstream voice" of society, especially as society becomes more diversified and opinions vary.
The Party's will and its propositions should be the strongest voice of the times, he said.
According to Xi, the mission of the Party's media work is to provide guidance for the public, serve the country's overall interests, unite the general public, instill confidence and pool strength, tell right from wrong and connect China to the world.
Lu Shaoyang, head of Peking University's School of Journalism & Communication, said guidance does not mean rigid lecturing.
"A firm political stance and fine-tuned professional skills are required for today's media to exercise their duty," Lu said.
Ma Xiaorong, a young editor working on the Beijing Youth Daily's WeChat news account, said sensationalism should be avoided when reporting, especially when publishing on social networks.
"The core of news reporting is the people. Positive reporting should also focus on them," said Long Min, a reporter with the China News Service southeast China's Fujian Province branch.
Long said that reporters should profile ordinary people and their "true and touching deeds."
Positive reporting does not mean avoiding problems, said Tang Ji, a senior reporter with Xinhua's Inner Mongolia branch. Tang covered the wrongful conviction of an 18-year-old man named Huugjilt who was found guilty of rape and murder and executed in 1996. His reports contributed to the conviction being quashed.
As the president noted, public supervision and positive publicity are two compatible functions of media outlets, reporters should be good at finding and exposing problems and pushing society to improve, Tang said.
Reporters were inspired and encouraged by Xi's visit to the media outlets and his acknowledgement of their diligence.
During the media tour, Xi also stressed that journalists should make more in-depth investigative reports in grass-roots communities.
At Xinhua News Agency, Xi talked with a correspondent reporting from a village in Lankao County, Henan Province via Xinhua's remote news reporting command system.
Xi asked the correspondent how local people saw the work style of cadres. Xi said that reporting work styles of grassroots cadres is quite meaningful as the information gathered could help the central authorities to prescribe tailored measures to improve work styles.
Xi also talked with Sun Tiexiang, a Xinhua reporter who recently made interviews in Tayuanzhuang village in Zhengding, Hebei province. Xi visited the village several times while working in Zhengding, and he learned from Sun details about current development in the village.
Xi said, "local officials must be down-to-earth and keep close ties with ordinary people, and the same is true with reporters."
At People's Daily, having learnt that many young copy editors work on the night shift, Xi asked whether they have time to make interviews and investigations at grassroots level. He told the newspaper's chiefs to create opportunities for their staff to interview or work in grass-roots communities.
At the symposium, Xinhua reporter Li Keyong, who had made 13 investigative reports since the 18th Party Congress in 2012, mentioned his report of high-end clubs as venues of corruption, Xi commented "I ordered a thorough investigation into the problem the moment I read this report." Xi called for more truthful, quality reports based on in-depth investigations.
Xi also inspected the three news providers' new media services.
While visiting the headquarters of the People's Daily, Xi extended Lantern Festival greetings to the public via the paper's new media broadcasting system.
The rate of clicking the audio entry featuring Xi's greeting soared immediately. Some Internet users posted comments, calling it "a phone call from the General Secretary."
At Xinhua News Agency, Xi watched presentations of the agency's robot news writing system, Xinhua Silk Road Database, and the agency's services on overseas social media.
Xi also visited an exhibition of the agency's cutting-edge devices for news reporting, including a maritime satellite and a drone, and tried out a hand-held video live broadcasting device.
Xi praised Xinhua's transition to a multimedia news service, saying Xinhua has achieved great progresses.
At the headquarters of CCTV, Xi visited the control room and made a video call to CCTV's Washington-based North America branch, which opened more than four years ago.
Xi asked them to introduce China's social economic development in an objective, truthful and all-around way, tell stories about China well, introduce Chinese culture and bridge friendship.
(Xinhua News Agency February 21, 2016)