The Washington Free Beacon’s Adam Kredo has a great item out this morning on the Washington Post’s advertising partnership with the Chinese Communist Party. Apparently, a Chinese government-controlled media outlet has purchased its own news supplement – complete with Washington Post masthead – that is published in the Post’s print and web editions. Ostensibly this is considered an “advertisement,” and is handled by the Post’s advertising department, but critics say the supplement is so poorly labeled that many readers likely believe they’re reading the Post’s own reporting – but are actually reading Chinese government propaganda.
Kredo spoke to journalism ethics experts who explained why the relationship is problematic:
“They need to address the proverbial elephant in the living room—why are you carrying a Communist government-sponsored publication?” asked Lois Boynton, a journalism professor at the University of North Carolina’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication.
“It raises some ethical issues for the Post,” said Boynton, who criticized China Watch for intentionally obfuscating its origins.
“There are issues of transparency associated with who publishes China Watch,” she said. “The ‘about’ blurb doesn’t provide that detail. Although many people may know that China mainstream media is government-controlled, it may not be clear for all readers.”
“Readers go right through this section as if they’re moving through the hard news to the more in depth reporting, never realizing that they’re being inundated with Chinese government propaganda,” said Stephen Yates, a former national security adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney. “It doesn’t hit a person that they’ve arrived at an ad supplement filled with things that have passed Chinese Communist Party filters.”