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Reporting by the rule

Updated: 2013-10-29 07:18
( China Daily)

Rent-seeking should have nothing to do with journalism. Those who accept bribes to write stories are bad apples that should be driven out of the profession.

When New Express reporter Chen Yongzhou was detained by police from Changsha, Hunan province, last week, our sympathy went out to him on impulse. And we strongly believed that the police had done the wrong thing when the Guangzhou-based paper called for his release.

Reporting by the rule

Front page of the New Express

But his confession that he was paid to write stories containing unverified facts that damaged the reputation of an enterprise caught journalists and his paper unawares. His paper, which had vehemently defended his reporting, has now apologized.

Although an entire legal procedure is needed before Chen's case is clarified, this incident should function as a warning to all journalists.

Nothing is more fatal than the loss of credibility to a news organization and a reporter. To abide by professional ethics and never to write anything that has not been verified as true are the way to cultivate and maintain this fragile but precious credibility.

It is not just for a job that supports us that we should do everything by the rule. We enjoy the trust and have the respect of the public because this profession is assumed to play a watchdog role and act as the conscience of society.

Several years ago, a number of reporters accepted money from the owners of coal mines not to publicize accidents. Although these bad apples were jailed, the reputation of the media was tarnished. One ditty goes to such an extreme that it likens reporters to burglars and thieves.

Although the majority of reporters are doing their job honestly, there will always be those who have difficulty resisting the temptation of illegal gains, or enter the profession with unseemly purposes. Their betrayal of the trust and respect they receive from the public will end in facing justice.

Loyalty to the truth, along with neutrality, is the requirement of the job. There is no reason for a reporter to deem himself or herself as superior to people in other fields. Never should he or she consider the job as an advantageous channel for illegal gains. If a reporter believes otherwise, he or she will sooner or later get into the trouble this New Express reporter is in.

(China Daily 10/29/2013 page8)