Four months after its annual awards ceremony, the All-China Journalists Association (ACJA) has canceled 16 of its prizes.
Each year the ACJA gives around 300 China News Awards — the country’s equivalent to Pulitzers — to leading news-gathering teams. On Feb. 20, the association posted a scathing criticism of many of the entries on its website, stating that 16 prizewinning submissions had violated the rules. Infractions included re-editing stories so that they were different from the versions originally published or broadcast, and then submitting them in a more polished state in order to win the judges’ favor. In total, 34 submissions were determined to have flouted the rules.
The culprits include a radio news station in Jilin, northeast China, which broadcast a story about the successful launch of the Jilin-1 satellite, China’s first commercial remote-sensing satellite. The ACJA found that part of the news feature, submitted to the awards panel by the Jilin Journalists Association, had been modified since its original broadcast. In addition, a TV news team from Fujian, eastern China, that won a first prize for a story about the chaos of delivery services was also called out for re-editing its work after the initial broadcast.
This is not the first time that the China News Award, now in its 26th year, has revoked prizes for rule violations. In 2015, two awards were canceled. But this is the first time the ACJA has issued a public critique of the state of the industry.
According to the announcement, three first prizes, three second prizes and 10 third prizes were canceled. All of the news stories in question were produced by radio and television companies. The content producers fell foul of regulations stating that work must not be plagiarized, fake, factually inaccurate, or in any way different from its published or broadcast form. The ACJA also recommended that these news organizations receive a formal warning and take part in a “discussion.” Furthermore, the guilty parties will not be eligible to enter the competition next year.
The AJCA could not immediately be reached for comment by Sixth Tone, and an editor from its official website told Sixth Tone that he couldn’t comment on the story.
China’s most highly regarded news-gathering teams, including People’s Daily, Xinhua, and CCTV, apply for the ACJA awards each year. The awards for 2016 were first announced on Nov. 2, 2016, along with another top journalism accolade, the Changjiang Taofen Award, named after prolific Chinese journalists Fan Changjiang and Zou Taofen.
In January, tougher regulations were issued for the 27th China News Awards, focusing specifically on entry requirements for TV and radio broadcasts. “Anything found to have been cut, to have inconsistencies, or to have been reproduced for the sake of the award shall be judged as forged,” reads a Feb. 24 article on the ACJA’s website, adding that even commercials and other advertisements should not be deleted from the submissions in order to guarantee their complete authenticity.
“With such rampant forgery in journalism — an industry that is duty-bound to expose the truth — who else is there to protect what is fair and just in society?” wrote one user on microblog platform Weibo.
Sixth Tone’s sister publication The Paper won one award in 2016, which was not revoked.
Editor: Sarah O’Meara.
(Header image: Journalists stand on step ladders to take photos from favorable vantage points during the ‘two sessions’ in Beijing, March 3, 2013. Yang Yang/VCG)