China Shuts Down Top Investigative Reporting Team

'Shutdown ... A Political Measure'

Journalists decried the disbanding of the unit. Bob Dietz, Asia program coordinator of the Committee to Protect Journalists, called the "apparent crackdown ... a loss for China." Said Dietz, "The shutdown carries the hallmarks of a political measure to curb a leading news outlet's reporting that found disfavor within the government."

But observers did not place all the blame on the government. Zhan Jiang, a journalism professor at Beijing Foreign Studies University, wrote that the China Economic Times investigative unit was not targeted by high-level leadership. "It should be understood as the intention of a handful of ignorant and incompetent people at the top of the newspaper." He wrote that there has actually been an "upsurge" in investigative reporting in China.

At the China Economic Times, Liu Jianfeng was also optimistic about the future of investigative reporting, even though he is currently a former member of the profession. He said there is both a consensus among Chinese journalists that in-depth reporting is necessary and a real public appetite for investigative stories. "It is really a trend of the current times," said Liu. "It is the only way we can help correct government behavior and it is also the only way for ordinary citizens to have a better understanding of what is going on around them."

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