A senior journalist at the Beijing Youth Daily was recently arrested in Beijing for taking bribes, the most recent of several journalists in China to be charged with selling the placement of news stories in their papers.
Xiong Xiong, the chief editor of Technology News at Beijing Youth Daily, was arrested for taking bribes of tens of thousands yuan by Beijing Chaoyang District Procuratorate, according to mainland China business magazine Caixin. Some other Chinese media outlets reported that the amount of money involved reaches more than a million yuan (US$165,000).
An inside source at Beijing Youth Daily told Caixin that Xiong has often taken bribes. “Everyone here knows that he always takes all kinds of money,” The source said. “[Even] public relations companies don’t have good words of him.”
Xiong has worked at Beijing Youth Daily for 14 years, and has reported for Technology News for more than a decade, Caixin reported.
Last month, three financial news journalists working for Hangzhou-based papers, the Morning Express and two newspapers owned by the Hangzhou Daily, were arrested and went on trial for taking money from PR companies to run certain news stories. The court hasn’t announced a verdict.
This October, reporter Chen Yongzhou who worked at New Express newspaper in Guangzhou, was also arrested for taking bribery to run stories criticizing Zoomlion Heavy Industry Science & Technology Development Co. Ltd., a large state-run industry. China’s Central Television aired the confession of Chen admitting taking money for reporting.
However, the public tended to believe the reporting on Zoomlion and questioned that arrest, noting there was a lack of evidence other than Chen’s confession and no information about who allegedly bribed him.
Earlier this year in August, another journalist, Yang Kairan, who worked for the Beijing Party mouthpiece Jinghua Times was placed in custody for taking bribes for misleading reporting.
Chinese author and economist He Qinglian said in a commentary article that paid news is a “public secret” that is well known in China. In order to win the competition among businesses, bribing journalists for running reports is often used as a tool to attack competitors.
Political power being involved in businesses has also caused China’s media to be in a chaotic situation, He Qinglian said. Unlike democracies, all the power in China including politics, economy, military, and culture, where media plays a major role, is controlled by different interest groups in the Chinese Communist Party, she said.