Paper apologizes for reporter's untrue stories

Updated: 2013-10-27 16:24


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GUANGZHOU - Chinese newspaper the New Express issued a statement on Sunday to apologize for untrue stories by one of its reporters, who was detained by police and later confessed to fabricating a series of reports targeting a listed company.

The Guangzhou-based newspaper said it failed to verify stories by Chen Yongzhou, who was detained by police from Central China's Hunan province and confessed that he had received money from others for the reports.

"A preliminary police investigation showed that our reporter Chen Yongzhou had been incited by others to write numerous inaccurate stories in exchange for money, seriously violating the China News Workers' code of Professional Ethics and the principle of news authenticity. Meanwhile, the newspaper failed to carefully review the reports," the newspaper said in a front-page statement.

However, the paper did not clarify from whom Chen received the money or at whose request he wrote the stories.

"After the incident, our newspaper took improper actions, seriously damaging the credibility of the media, and this is a profound lesson for us," the statement said, apparently referring to its release of two front-page editorials requesting Chen's release prior to his confession.

The newspaper on Wednesday carried a full-page editorial under the headline "Please release (him)," and published another plea on Thursday, "Once again please release (him)."

Chen was held on October 19 in Guangzhou by Hunan police on "suspicion of damaging business reputation" after he reported "financial problems" at Zoomlion, a large engineering company based in Changsha, capital of Hunan Province.

On video footage aired by China Central Television on Saturday, Chen said to police that he had continuously released a series of unverified and false reports against Zoomlion.

The reports had resulted in the company's stocks dropping and public accusations against its management.

Chen, 27, has served as a New Express reporter since his graduation in 2009.

He apologized to the company, the stock investors and his own family members.

The New Express said in the statement that it would strengthen management of its news workers and the publication procedure, and carry out an overhaul targeting any existing problems.

An interview request by Xinhua was declined by the paper's administration.