A report on Chinese investigation reporters was presented by Dr. Shen Fei along with Dr. Zhang Zhi'an, his collaborator from Fudan University on June 12th at a conference entitled 'Investigative Journalism in Digital Age' in Shanghai. The conference was hosted by Shanghai Innovative Research Base of Social Sciences and the New Media research Center at Fudan University. Conference attendants include both academics and professional journalists: Prof. Marina Svensson from Lund University (Sweden), Prof. Xia Qianfang from Wuhan University, Zuo Zhijian, director of the feature department of the 21st Century Herald, and Ju Jing, reporter from the Southern Weekend, etc.
Shen and Zhang's study queried 259 investigative reporters from 80 media institutions covering 19 provinces in mainland China. Result shows that the majority of investigative reporters are male and 35 years old or younger. On average, they have been working in the industry for around eight years. Most of them are based in Beijing, Guangzhou, and Shanghai. Most of them admitted their occupation comes with heavy workloads and professional risks. About 40 percent expressed their wish to leave the field. The report is a descriptive summary of the survey – presents only the tip of an iceberg of Shen and Zhang's project. In coming months, they will conduct in-depth interviews with selected reporters to flesh out their quantitative findings.
The report attracted wide and intense media coverage. investigative reporters are usually seen as a group of journalists with the highest levels of professionalism, and their experience reflects the status quo of the news media environment in China (Oriental Daily, June 13th). Global Times writes, mainland investigative reporters are suffering burnout over intimidation and many plan to quit, the first report to focus on this group has found. As of July 1st, four state level media institutions such, thirteen provincial level media, and some national portal websites (e.g., Sina.com) have mentioned the study.