Praised and pilloried - investigative journalist no stranger to controversy

Praised and pilloried - investigative journalist no stranger to controversy
Ms Chai Jing, regarded as one of China’s best investigative journalists.

CONTROVERSY is not new to investigative journalist Chai Jing, whose documentary on China's air pollution has become the latest talking point.

In February last year, she was pilloried and even labelled a "traitor" by some after news that she had given birth to a baby girl in the United States - mirroring what many Chinese parents are doing to obtain US citizenship for their children.

Detractors say her action destroyed her image as a patriot, which was honed from her words and works in the past such as her coverage of the 2003 Sars (severe acute respiratory syndrome) crisis and the 2008 Sichuan earthquake.

Such criticisms have resurfaced in efforts to discredit her self-funded anti-smog documentary, Under The Dome, which was launched last Saturday.

Widely regarded as one of China's best investigative journalists and TV hosts, Ms Chai, 39, reportedly quit Central China Television (CCTV) last year to take care of her girl, Zhiran.

She said she aspired to become a journalist after seeing a series of photos of a 16-year-old prostitute taken by photojournalist Zhao Tielin.

"Before seeing those photos, I simply knew that prostitutes existed, but through Zhao's eyes, I could really feel their experience," she wrote in a 2010 blog posting.

After graduating in 1994, she quit a better-paying job at a railway bureau in Shanxi to work at a Hunan arts radio station. In 2001, she joined CCTV as a host and reporter.

She shot to fame in 2003 when she interviewed patients face-to-face with the risk of infection during the Sars crisis, which won her an award as Correspondent of the Year for investigative journalism.

This article was first published on Mar 3, 2015.
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