Reporters attacked covering car accident

September 25, 2006
Posted: October 13, 2006

Bai Chuan, New Express
Zhou Jiong, Southern Metropolis Daily
Six other reporters


Around 4 a.m., eight reporters from local dailies Yangcheng Evening News, Southern Metropolis Daily, New Express, and local broadcaster Southern TV arrived at the scene of an accident in the Baiyuan district of the southern city of Guangzhou, where a car had plunged off a bridge. The reporters were gathered outside the secured area of the crash when around 10 security guards attacked them, shoving them into a dark room where a Southern Metropolis Daily photographer stepped on a nail, according to Chinese media reports. The guards were soon joined by other attackers who were not wearing uniforms. The reporters believed that the attack was orchestrated by local officials who were trying to cover up details of the car accident, national media reported.

“Several people pinned my body against the wall, and someone very violently went after my equipment. I said, ’I won’t film then.’ But they still tried to snatch it,” a Southern TV reporter told Southern Metropolis Daily, which did not identify the person. “I really wanted to guard the equipment and protect the evidence so that everyone could see their ugly performance.”

Seven of the journalists called the police immediately, but officers did not arrive until more than an hour later, and then lost track of the reporters on the way to the station. When the reporters finally found the station on their own, police warned them not to report on the incident, reporter Zhou Jing told Youth Weekly magazine.

In an initial interview with Southern Metropolis Daily, the town’s deputy mayor denied that the attack had happened.

The Southern Metropolis Daily report appeared on the front page of the newspaper, but Guangzhou media later received orders not to file any more reports on the incident from the Guangzhou Propaganda Department. However, national media broadcast footage of the attack and printed interviews with the reporters.

Central authorities recently proposed restrictions that would fine news organizations for reporting sudden incidents without government approval. The proposals have not yet been implemented.