In a country marked by corruption and state-control, Yin Yusheng came up with the idea of crowdfunded journalism. You pay him, he investigates the story.
Yin Yusheng (43) is tired of the way China censors and controls the (online) media. And he is not the only one. It’s for those people who are –just like him- fed up with the state-run media.
Earlier this year Yusheng lost his job as a journalist at a magazine when it changed from a weekly into a monthly magazine. With this project he is testing whether he can live on online donations.
Once people collect 5,000 yuan ($800), half his wage when he worked daily, he starts investigating a story. In his online mission statement he writes: “Crowdfunding can make a product successful, save a company and bring donations to the weak and vulnerable. In the same way, it can give us the truth”.
Yusheng already completed his first crowdfunded investigative story. It’s about Chen Baocheng, a Beijing reporter who was arrested during a land demolition in his hometown. Some reports claim that Chen poured fuel on an excavator operator, but Yusheng found out that he only arrived after the operator was doused with gasoline. The state-run media depict on reactions of police and lawyers, but the journalist based his report on more than twenty interviews with police, locals, witnesses and lawyers. He had the required funding within 24 hours. About a week later Yusheng published the report on two microblogs, Sina Weibo and Tencent Weibo. He spent 1,955 yuan on this case and he uploaded several photos of train tickets and receipts to assure the transparency of his work.
He now risks being the target of the Chinese government oppression on online expression.