The Paris-based press freedom group Reporters Without Borders released a document today it says outlines the Chinese government’s strategy for the management of overseas media during this Olympic year. The group doesn’t detail where the memo came from, or who wrote it, though it is directed at a province and its local governments. Much of it is welcome stuff that you might find in a public relations textbook anywhere. It suggests being more open to interviews, for instance:
Attitudes must evolve: we must prepare to be totally open to interviews by foreign journalists, to dare to accept interviews by foreign journalists, to disseminate our viewpoint by taking a clear and precise position, and not let ourselves be caught without an answer to important questions. We must know how to communicate with journalists from abroad, to master their style and their methods, to avoid contradictions and to handle [issues] judiciously.
Some of the instructions are more heavy-handed:
Reinforce the work of commenting on the Internet, increase the level of [opinion] orientation online. Perfect the online comment system, built a system, increase the capacity and level of [opinion] management on the Internet, create positive opinion online. There is a need to reinforce management of news websites and to guarantee appropriate opinion behaviour as regards online news and information.
The document doesn’t touch on fallback plans, though at least in the case of Tibet the government has shown it will put huge swaths of the country off limits to independent travel by overseas journalists. Of course, that won’t be an option this summer in Beijing.