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Chinese hacks face life ban for nicking rumours from web

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The Chinese government has issued new regulations for journalists that require them to provide two sources for everything they print.

The new rules, issued by the General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP), are widely being interpreted as a move from the government to stop Chinese journalists publishing stories they source through the internet or social media.

State news agency Xinhua said the regulations were "aimed at increasing the credibility of Chinese news organisations" and that they helped hacks "remain impartial and guard against using rumours as sources for their reports".

The rules state that reporters must quote "at least two sources in critical reports" and they are banned from altering news photographs or video clips "in a way that distorts the authenticity of the material".

News outlets will have to apologise and publish corrections "if their reports are found to be untrue or inaccurate", Xinhua said.

Offenders could have their press card revoked for five years, or even be banned for life from their jobs if they "fabricate" stories that result in "serious consequences".

China has been stepping up its censorship on any speech that looks as if it is getting a bit free recently, particularly online where social media's speed has allowed a few stories to get into the media that the government didn't like.

Over the summer, the Asian superpower had real trouble keeping the lid on a protest at a chemical plant in Dalian. A storm had broken the dyke around the plant and residents, fearing chemicals could spill out, wanted the factory closed.

The government was doing its best to delete protest pictures from Weibo, the country's Twitter, as fast as they were posted but couldn't stay on top of the job because the pics had already been retweeted, or reWeiboed, before they could delete them.

Earlier this week, Chinese tech firms including Sina, owner of Weibo, agreed to "resolutely curb" any information deemed "harmful" to the state. ®

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