Winter at Home, Spring Abroad for Journalists

In 2008, investigative reporter Jian Guangzhou uncovered a major food safety scandal involving melamine-tainted Sanlu milk powder. This year, he left Shanghai’s Oriental Daily in one of a series of high-profile news media resignations and reassignments. In today’s media climate, he told McClatchy’s Tom Lasseter he would never have been able to publish his findings on Sanlu’s wrongdoing: The food safety problem at hand turned out to be epic: Twenty-two dairy businesses were implicated in a scandal over mixing milk with an industrial chemical that can cause kidney failure in babies. At least six infants in China died as a result, and some 300,000 fell ill. The courts convicted more than 20 people linked to the industry, sending two of those off for execution. […] Wang Keqin, a doyen of Chinese journalists, said in an interview at his Beijing office that this year has been “probably the worst” in a decade or more for investigative journalists, despite one of the biggest political scandals in recent history: the wife of a powerful Communist Party figure convicted of murder, and that official, Bo Xilai, now himself being handed over to the courts. But domestic reporting on the case, viewed by some observers as ruthless political theater during a factional power struggle, has been subject to severe scrutiny by party propaganda apparatchiks. […] Sitting in a Shangahi cafe and sipping tea last week, Jian sounded wistful as he talked about the milk scandal story. “I definitely couldn’t do it” today, he said. “Because now everyone is more cautious.” By contrast, Chinese state media’s aggressive global expansion has more momentum than ever. From Elizabeth Dwoskin at Businessweek: Since Wang Guan arrived in the U.S. from Beijing in February, the correspondent for state-owned China Central Television embedded with the U.S. Navy and broadcast live from ...
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