Chinese police have arrested two alleged scam artists who solicited bribes from officials in return for positive coverage in their phony magazine, a newspaper reported Monday.
The self-proclaimed manager and chief reporter of China Social Survey had promised to spin a story about industrial pollution violators into "positive propaganda," in return for a payoff from a district environmental protection bureau in the northwestern city of Yinchuan, the Ningxia Daily reported.
The story points to what is believed to be a common practice among Chinese journalists: taking bribes in return for positive coverage or to kill an unflattering story.
Chinese journalists are usually poorly paid, and strict controls over the media keep newspapers and television stations largely immune to public scrutiny and accountability.
Xu Shuwen and Han Quantong allegedly sought up to 96,000 yuan ($14,000) in advertising or subscriptions, the newspaper reported. The two were detained last month and formally arrested Friday, it said.
Investigators soon discovered that the magazine was not registered with authorities and neither Xu nor Han had been issued genuine press credentials. Although the magazine has a Web site, it wasn't clear if it had ever published.
It also wasn't clear what crime Xu and Han would be charged with.