China investigates reports of fake journalists blackmailing

13:52, March 24, 2010      

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China's press watchdog said Tuesday an investigation team has been sent to northern coal-rich Shanxi Province following reports that jobless young people were pretending to be journalists to blackmail local mine owners.

On March 18, Guangdong-based newspaper Southern Weekly reported that many jobless young men in Xinzhou "became" journalists and took advantage of their knowledge about the mining businesses to blackmail company bosses and low level government officials.

According to the article, these fake reporters usually went to uncertificated mines, showed their fake journalist IDs and severely denounced the illegal businesses.

The mines' managers would try to explain and then give them hush money of around 1,000 yuan (146 U.S. dollars).

It is said that some of these fake reporters had indeed been reporters at one time and had the ability to write stories and even publish them with the help of media friends.

"Some businesses were so afraid of being exposed that, whether the reporters were genuine or not, they were willing to use money to ease troubles," said Zhu Weifeng, an official with the General Administration of Press and Publication.

"These companies and officials wouldn't dare to say anything even if they knew it was fake," he added.

Source: Xinhua
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