If you Google the phrase “journalist beaten” (记者被打) right now, you’ll return 14 million results. Journalists who are charged with “protecting freedom of speech” are being beaten, arrested, and “sentenced for accepting bribes.” This has become a peculiar trait of China’s media ecology. In the most recent case, Fu Hua (傅桦), a reporter from First Financial Daily, was sentenced to three years in prison for accepting bribes.
The work of the journalist necessitates being on the scene, where the news is happening, and conveying facts to the general public. But when the basic safety of news reporters cannot be secured, or when the very safety of the person is threatened, will journalists dare reveal the truth and the facts? This being the case, won’t the crucial force of supervision by public opinion [or “watchdog journalism”] be weakened?