Guide navigates Olympics pitfalls

25,000 reporters expected in Beijing for the games

NEW YORK -- Six weeks before the Beijing Olympics, a guide aimed at aiding the 25,000 reporters planning to travel to China to cover the games, was announced Friday by Human Rights Watch and the Committee to Protect Journalists.

"The Reporters' Guide to Covering the Beijing Olympics" addresses how to report in China, paying particular attention to the hazards facing Chinese sources and news assistants, the guide's co-publisher HRW said in a statement Friday.

"Many of the journalists heading to Beijing are veteran sports and Olympics reporters, but the environment in China poses unique challenges," HRW media director Minky Worden said.

Available for free online from HRW and soon available in French, German, Spanish and Japanese, the guide spells out reporters' rights under Chinese law.

The Chinese government pledged full press freedom to journalists planning to cover the games. Yet China remains the world's leading jailer of journalists, censors the Internet and retaliates against Chinese citizens thought to be sources for stories critical of the government, HRW said.

Designed for reporters new to China, the guide covers sensitive human rights topics, tips on countering censorship and dealing with the police, and advice about how not to endanger sources and news assistants.

"The key to covering China effectively without jeopardizing your staff, your sources and yourself, is to be prepared and informed. We hope this guide will help," Worden said.