○ Advertisement agents airish as reporters and approved bribes as newspapers struggled
○ Affected reporters still get paid alike admitting they accept been unmasked
○ Badge able bottomward on affected and absolute reporters agreeable in bribery during summer of 2018
Inset: Four “fake reporters” are bedfast by Xi’an badge in Northwest China’s Shaanxi Province on February 18, 2016. Photo: VCG
The arrest of 46 affected reporters accused of bribery in arctic Shaanxi’s Yulin burghal makes Chen Xiaoyi (pseudonym) excited. “After 10 years of chaos, it’s the aerial time to bridle in this problem.”
Chen, a above annual anchorman with 20 years of alive acquaintance in journalism, said aback the year 2000 bodies falsely claiming to be accountant annual reporters accept accepted bribes in the anatomy of “sponsorships” in barter for befitting bashful about absolute transgressions by atramentous and added companies in Yulin and Yan’an, Northwest China’s Shaanxi Province.
Located in arctic Shaanxi, the two cities are affluent in accustomed assets such as coal, accustomed gas and oil. “In 2007, the bearings became widespread, and aback again bribery has become alike with the areas,” said Chen.
A administrator of a atramentous processing action in Yulin said the aggregation has been again addled by affected reporters “soliciting sponsorship” in barter for denial abrogating annual about the enterprise. “They would ask for sponsorships, affairs bi-weekly subscriptions or advertisements during the ‘interview.’ But we accept never apparent a distinct archetype of a bi-weekly afterwards we paid the money,” said the manager, annual website thepaper.cn reported.
The trend of affected reporters in arctic Shaanxi started with announcement sales agents of book media in the alpha of this century, aback announcement aback became the capital acquirement antecedent of China’s media industry, according thepaper.cn. The trend connected into the amusing media era, with affected reporters no best defective a affiliation to book media to be able to accident a company.
From crusader to blackmailer
A affected anchorman surnamed Ma was arrested this August on accuse of extortion and blackmail. Ma has committed as abounding as 20 crimes with actionable assets of over 800,000 yuan ($125,000). Ma did this application the ability of his own amusing media accounts.
Liu Bo (pseudonym), a bounded anchorman who is accustomed with Ma, told thepaper.cn that afterwards admission from a university in Chengdu, Southwest China’s Sichuan Province, Ma was aggravating to do business online. In 2013, he angry to amusing media and fabricated money by ghostwriting on Sina Weibo, the Chinese adaptation of Twitter, with a amount of 400 yuan ($58) per article. He answerable an added 2,000 yuan to broadcast the commodity on his claimed media account.
“Ma did some acceptable things such as advertisement the arbitrary and biased analysis of anemic groups. He became an influencer on amusing media. As added ‘negative reports’ were appear on his account, companies and organizations he apparent would pay him money to annul the reports,” Liu said.
The above-mentioned atramentous processing action administrator said that Ma blackmailed atramentous mines with threats to broadcast absolute advice about aegis incidents and ecology pollution. “Once the accusation was advised and confirmed, the atramentous mines faced penalties alignment from tens of bags yuan to hundreds of bags of yuan, in accession to bent liability. Therefore, best atramentous mines that Ma targeted would pay him money to abstain investigations from the authorities.”
Cleaning up the mess
The Yulin Public Aegis Agency launched a appropriate operation to apple-pie up the city’s media ambiance this year. Scheduled from August 1 to October 30, the operation was accepted as a “thunder strike” by Yulin Daily, the city’s official newspaper.
As of September 10, the Public Aegis Agency of Yulin had absurd a absolute of 146 bent cases of counterfeit reporters involving 8.95 actor yuan ($1.4 million) in bribes solicited by both affected and accountant reporters, and bedfast 46, according to letters by bounded official media.
“The cardinal is accretion as the three-month appropriate operation continues,” an official with the Yulin Public Aegis Agency told the Global Times.
Li Bo, arch of the Yulin Publicity Department, said the appropriate operation to apple-pie up the media ambiance will be the antecedence of the burghal government, appear the bounded official media.
Liu Mao (pseudonym), a administrator of a atramentous processing aggregation in Fugu canton of Yulin, told thepaper.cn that the canton has added than 70 atramentous mines that accommodate atramentous to endless processing companies. “Dozens and alike hundreds of ‘reporters’ would army in two or three canicule afterwards an adventure was appear in a company. They would say annihilation but shoot everywhere with a camera until the aggregation talked to them, and again they would accession a appeal for ‘sponsorship.'”
Liu Mao said that the advocacy they appeal usually included bi-weekly subscriptions and advertisement orders. The money appropriate to adjustment newspapers was about beneath than 10,000 yuan, but the amount of advertisements the aggregation was requested to buy could be anything.
There are over a dozen atramentous mines in a boondocks of Fugu county. A atramentous abundance administrator told thepaper.cn that about every atramentous abundance has “sponsored” these “reporters.” “There is no best but to accord them money because the companies would pay way added than the ‘sponsorship’ if the abuse is exposed, let abandoned the bent liability. No one would booty the risk. It’s like they bought a careful amulet with the money.”
Creative acquirement stream
Local journalism practitioner Chen Xiaoyi blames awkward administration by bounded media. “[In the beginning,] about every affected anchorman was backed by a media company. The affected reporters were announcement agents for these media,” Chen told thepaper.cn.
Chen recalls that in the end of the 20th century, press factories and newspapers were able to accomplish a accumulation in arctic Shaanxi, because they were financially accurate by the government. “Blackmail from reporters was exceptional of at that time.
Many newspapers accomplished banking difficulties afterwards 2001, about the time the government pulled aback media subsidies as a allotment of civic bread-and-er structural reform. “After that, abounding newspapers set up an acting announcement administration because announcement was eventually begin to be the best assisting method,” Chen said. “During that period, all the newspapers were profit-oriented.”
Chen told thepaper.cn that in 2003, some bi-weekly offices outsourced their announcement departments in adjustment to admission their announcement business. Chen believes that the outsourcing is the basis annual of arctic Shaanxi’s aggressive cardinal of affected reporters.
Securing an outsourced adverting arrangement from a bi-weekly amount the architect hundreds of bags of yuan a year up front. In adjustment to ample the gap, contractors assassin a ample cardinal of bounded announcement agents.
“The announcement agents claimed to be reporters from book media they represented, and bodies would assuredly accept their identities. This is how it became difficult to analyze affected reporters from absolute ones,” said Chen.
With ample numbers of atramentous mines and electric ability plants, Yulin is a accustomed abode for affected reporters to backpack out counterfeit “sponsorship soliciting,” a adjustment of blackmail.
Huang An (pseudonym), a announcer in Yan’an, a burghal a Yulin, told thepaper.cn that antagonism amid municipal-level media for announcement in arctic Shaanxi became angry in 2004.
Without the allotment to authorize an official agency in the area, media organizations assigned reporters to assignment out of their homes.
The move fabricated it added difficult to analyze affected reporters from absolute ones. This was the alpha of absolved blackmail, with approach acceptable more fierce, said Huang.
“Although best of the media were baby tabloids, and some of them were almost read, they were bridle abundant for those companies targeted by the affected reporters,” said Huang.
Fake reporters, who at this time were mostly apprenticed announcement agents, targeted companies that had missing paperwork, abandoned the law or regulations, had assurance incidents, or were complex in ecology pollution.
In time, the basin of affected reporters grew to accommodate anyone with a accepted amusing media account, or had a acquaintance with a accepted amusing media annual or who was a reporter.
Willing to pay
Many companies accept been able to atom affected reporters over these years. However, abounding are accommodating to pay them anyways.
A atramentous abundance administrator said, “Even if the companies knew they were not absolute reporters, they still cartel not to debris the affected reporters, because there is a absolute anchorman abaft a affected reporter.”
A administrator with a magnesium aggregation in Shenmu, addition burghal a Yulin, said that abounding companies would analysis the reporters’ licenses, but gave up on the action eventually. “Not alone do the companies apperceive that the affected reporters accept no journalist’s license, but they additionally apperceive that the affected reporters accept absolute admission to platforms to advance abrogating letters about the company.”
Huang said that some accountant reporters would coact with affected reporters because they covet the money but cartel not anon attack blackmail.
“No amount what affectionate of anchorman they are, affected or real, they accept admission to the media, which makes the companies vulnerable,” Huang said.
Yulin’s appropriate operation is a allotment of China’s civic “Autumn Wind Operation 2018” launched by the country’s anti-pornography and anti-illegal publications office. The appropriate operation this year aims to able bottomward on actionable and pornographic publications and aish affected media, affected annual bureaus and affected reporters.
Over 80 cases involving media artifice accept been bankrupt in the aboriginal eight months of this year, according to a address by Xinhua on September 18.
In 10 archetypal cases appear by the appointment on September 17, cases of media artifice occurred in bristles added ambit including Shanxi, Shandong, Henan, Helongjiang and Zhejiang.
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