migrant workers. In 2008 candid reports about a devastating earthquake in the south-western province of Sichuan laid bare the failings of local officials. Some of this spirit lives on in commercially run publications such as Caixin, a magazine that focuses on business and economics (less politically sensitive topics).
A journalist for state media insists that he and his colleagues are still “revealing the truth". He cites recent reports about a furore involving a college canteen in southern China that served rat head in a meal (the authorities had claimed it was duck neck). Also, among the winners of China’s national journalism awards last year was an investigative piece on the illegal trade in rich black soil in northern China.
But when the All-China Journalists Association, which is overseen by the party, handed out that award, it noted that Mr Xi had once expressed great concern over protecting northern China’s soil. Most of the other winners were puff pieces about the party. One was titled “Without the Communist Party there is no happy life for China’s people".
A number of frustrated reporters have left their jobs. In late June a heated debate erupted on Chinese social media over whether it was still worth studying journalism at university. Many argued that it was not.
Critics of the industry lamented state media’s relentless pro-government positivity. Journalism degrees, said one commenter, “only teach you one thing: to be obedient." Subscribers can sign up to Drum Tower, our new weekly newsletter, to understand what the world makes of China—and what China makes of the world. © 2023, The Economist Newspaper Limited. All rights reserved. From The Economist, published under licence. The original content can be found. Read more on livemint.com