Chang Ping: Why our News is Empty

China Media Project translates a piece by Southern Daily Group journalist Chang Ping about the scandal at in which reporter Yan Bingguang was fired after it was discovered that she had filled her stories with quotes from her family and even herself:

Yan has now become something of a sensation on China’s internet. Web users have compiled the whole series of news reports she wrote using her own relatives as her chief news sources, and Yan has been dubbed China’s “greatest journalist,” a title obviously granted in jest.

Faking news stories is of course not altogether new, but Yan’s case is certainly an exceptional one. Her habitual use of her own family members as source material has been laid out, plain for all to see, by Internet users. The scandal, though comic in its overall effect, should really get us thinking.

As Xinhua News Agency and many web users have read this case, Yan Bingguang’s conduct stems from poor professional ethics and a lack of regard for media credibility. The work of the journalist is largely the work of conscience. Those who aren’t interested in the public’s right to know or in social justice would do best to stay clear of this profession. And yet, as it happens, our profession is full of the crooked and the shifty. It’s only that many journalists are more clever than Yan Bingguang in concealing their crimes.

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