OLD Media Moves

The special code that keeps China stories at Bloomberg away from the powerful

November 13, 2013

Posted by Chris Roush

Edward Wong of The New York Times writes about Code 204, a code at Bloomberg News that is used to keep articles on Chinese politics and social issues away from the eyes of powerful people in China who might be offended.

Wong writes, “For years, Bloomberg has been careful about the news it distributes on its terminals in mainland China. Senior Bloomberg managers added Code 204 to the editing system in early 2011, around the time that Chinese officials were growing anxious over calls for Chinese citizens to start a Jasmine Revolution, which never materialized. Editors routinely apply Code 204 to coverage of Chinese politics and general news, not just investigative blockbusters. “It’s very loosely applied,” one person said. Some editors justify Code 204 by arguing that the Chinese government allows Bloomberg to publish only financial news and data on the terminals, not political articles or other information, employees said.

“‘Their rationale is that we’re operating under the laws of mainland China,’ said one employee, who, like others at Bloomberg, spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of being fired. The employee added that those editors defending Code 204 say Bloomberg has a license that allows the terminals to offer what is ‘narrowly defined as economic news.’

“Like Thomson Reuters, Bloomberg has official permits from China to distribute financial information and do reporting on a range of topics, employees said. A license from the State Council Information Office allows Bloomberg to disseminate financial information to subscribers of the terminals. Separately, the Foreign Ministry accredits Bloomberg’s news bureaus and journalists in China.”

Read more here.

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