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Xinhua terminates reporter who interviewed family members

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Over the weekend, a Xinhua reporter named Yan Bingguang excited the Chinese Internet.

A collection of press clippings posted to News Eye (中国新闻眼) and reposted to Douban, Tianya, and various blogs and microblogs showed that Yan Bingguang (颜秉光) had quoted family members articles on topics ranging from the weather to holiday trends to banking habits.

In yesterday's South China Morning Post, Fiona Tam summarized Yan's alleged infractions and reported that Xinhua was looking into the matter:

"Yan quoted her husband, Lu Dongxing, a lecturer at the Heilongjiang Administrative Cadre Institute of Politics and Law, in a story about the Lunar New Year travel peak in February 2007 and three more stories - one about inflation in August, one about the National Day holiday in September and the other about the retail industry in November," the post said.

Yan even quoted herself in stories as part of "the Lu Dongxing couple" or "Lu Dongxing's wife".

She also allegedly promoted a pharmaceutical business run by her sister, Yan Binghong, frequently mentioning the company name in Xinhua stories.
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The spokesman said the bureau would report to Xinhua's Beijing headquarters if Yan was found guilty of any misconduct under journalists' professional ethics. "The headquarters will make the final decision based on our investigation," he said.

The news agency worked quickly. In a statement posted last night, Xinhua's Heilongjiang bureau reported that Yan had been removed from her position the previous day:

Xinhuanet, Heilongjiang Channel (12-14): The Heilongjiang bureau of the Xinhua News Agency decided on December 13 to terminate reporter Yan Bingguang's reporting work and remove her from her press position.

As for the recent online postings suggesting that Yan had used family members as interview subjects in some of her articles, after an investigation, the Heilongjiang bureau determined that Yan did indeed use her family as interview subjects in a portion of her articles. This violates Xinhua News Agency's relevant rules for news reports. Therefore, the Heilongjiang bureau's party organization has decided to terminate Yan Bingguang's news-gathering duties and remove her from her press position.

The Heilongjiang bureau of the Xinhua News Agency asks all news-gatherers to conscientiously implement and strictly enforce the Agency's rules and regulations for news writing and editing to further strengthen journalistic ethics and professionalism and effectively increase awareness of improving media credibility.

Yan was previously the target of netizen mockery in 2009 after a report that claimed widespread approval for the controversial Green Dam content filtering software and blamed any opposition on a small coterie of media outlets and businesses.

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