Tue, Nov 13, 2007 - Page 5 News List

China creating database of journalists

AP , BEIJING

China is creating a database with profiles on the thousands of foreign reporters who will be covering next summer's Beijing Olympics, a top official said in comments published yesterday.

The database will contain information on nearly 30,000 reporters and was designed to prevent people from posing as journalists to trick or blackmail interview subjects, Liu Binjie (柳斌杰), minister of the General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP), was quoted as saying in the state-run China Daily.

"Disguising as reporters to threaten and intimidate others to collect money is cheating and very dangerous to society," Liu was quoted as saying.

In China, people sometimes pose as reporters to extort money from corrupt officials or demand payment for false promises of favorable news coverage. A campaign launched in August netted 150 fake reporters and 300 unregistered publications, China Daily said.

Information was already compiled on the 8,000 foreign reporters who will work inside Olympic venues, while authorities were building a database on another 20,000 foreign reporters who will be permitted to work in China during the event, China Daily said.

Only reporters with Olympic media accreditation can work inside the venues.

Liu said the profiles were being put together for interview subjects to refer to. It was not known what information was contained in the profiles and who would be given access to them.

China closely tracks foreign reporters who work in the country and a US-based rights group said last week that the government has secretly ordered a ban on people it considers a threat at the Olympics. Among them were "media employees who can harm the Olympic Games," the China Aid Association said.

Liu was in a meeting yesterday afternoon and was not available for comment, his secretary said.

Li Zhanjun, director of the Beijing Olympics media center, said ``I don't understand'' when told about the China Daily report. He said he was busy and not able to provide more information.

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