From the Economic Observer Online:
Despite his short stature and small frame, 42-year old Dai Xiaojun exuded an air of agility and strength that he cultivated through nine years of service in the army.
With that now behind him, he describes himself as a shutterbug, a journalist, or one who records life.
He has worked for three publications, the latest being the West Times, a weekly mainland newspaper covering the development of western China.
But none of his previous work made him known to nearly so many people as his most recent: When a batch of both real and fraudulent journalists swarmed the site of a fatal Shanxi mining accident that occurred on September 20, demanding hush money from the mining company, Dai photographed the entire scene. His photographs circulated around the internet, creating an instant scandal.
But along with story’s fame came trouble. The West Times denied it employed Dai, claiming that he was a correspondent without a labor contract. Threatening calls came one after another. Netizens mocked it as a case of the pot calling the kettle black.
This time, local reporters were silent on Dai’s behalf, while their peers in other provinces applauded his bravery.
But the West Times’ statement about Dai cast a shadow over his identity, and the public began questioning his intentions. Was he also a blackmailer in the guise of a journalist? Did he expose the whole thing because he failed to get the money he demanded?
The EO interviewed Dai on November 4th at the Guofang Hotel in Taiyuan, the capital of Shanxi.