For many journalists in China, the rewards of the profession are purely a financial question. Amid a slew of media bribery-related scandals in the past year, China’s top media regulator announced a crackdown on non-transparent media practices.
On June 13, the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) issued a notice on a campaign against unethical practices in the media which will focus on three areas: individuals that falsely pose as investigative journalists, individuals that receive cash envelopes for interviews and media organisations that engage in corrupt practices.
SARFT said the campaign would be carried out on all levels of media organisations, including central and provincial broadcast stations. The agency said as part of reinforcing previous bans on bribery and extortion, media professionals will be required to produce press credentials during every interview. Media organisations will also be asked to conduct internal compliance reviews.
One of the most trenchant examples of media bribery occurred in 2008, when hundreds of journalists kept silent after a mine explosion killed 35 people and caused 19.24 million yuan ($3.05 million) in losses. An investigation found local officials paid 2.6 million yuan in bribes to media outlets. Li Junqi, a reporter for the Farmer’s Daily, was sentenced to 16 years in prison for receiving 200,000 yuan in bribes.
In other instances, pressure is exerted from media outlets. According to a recent Caixin report, initial public offering candidates are forced to purchase advertisements in newspapers on the threat of negative publicity.
According to the notice, the SARFT crackdown will last from June 15 to September 15.