China Reporting Wins Polk Awards

In a year of remarkable news coverage of China, several outlets have been singled out for their 2012 reporting with prestigious George Polk Awards. Two stories on high-level corruption in China, by Bloomberg and the New York Times, and a CBS News series on human rights activist Chen Guangcheng, have won the award. To mark the awards, a George Polk Seminar entitled, “A Revolution Betrayed: Covering Corruption and Human Rights in China” will be held Wednesday, April 10, 2013, at Long Island University.

The Bloomberg stories cited by Long Island University, which oversees the awards, include investigative reports looking into the family wealth of disgraced Chongqing Party chief Bo Xilai and incoming president Xi Jinping. The New York Times reports, by David Barboza, examined the financial connections between “princelings” and their extended families. One report looked into the vast wealth obtained by relatives of outgoing Premier Wen Jiabao.

The CBS series reported on activist Chen Guangcheng, during the time he was held under house arrest in Linyi, Shandong, and after his escape to the U.S. Embassy in Beijing.

From the New York Times:

In a series of articles, Bloomberg examined the wealth accumulated by Bo Xilai, who was the leader of China’s sprawling Chongqing municipality before being ousted in a scandal that erupted over the murder of a British businessman. The series discovered a web of assets stretching from Beijing to the Caribbean worth at least $126 million. The series also revealed how relatives of Xi Jinping enriched themselves.

Mr. Barboza’s three-part report in The Times, “Princelings,” examined the financial interests of high-ranking Chinese officials and their families. The articles showed that relatives of Prime Minister Wen Jiabao had accumulated a fortune of $2.7 billion.

The award for television reporting went to journalists from CBS News for their work uncovering human rights abuses in China. The correspondent Holly Williams and the cameraman Andrew Portch were recognized for their coverage of the human rights activist Chen Guangcheng, who fled China after years of being under house arrest for his work exposing how some Chinese women were forced to have abortions in order to comply with the country’s one-child policy.

After the stories were published, both the Bloomberg and New York Times’ sites were blocked in China. Later, the New York Times (along with the Wall Street Journal and Washington Post) revealed that their site had been hacked, with David Barboza’s email communications the apparent target.