It’s romantic in a way, the image of “citizen journalists” with their trusty cellphones, capturing news events around the world and allowing everyone to see instant photos or videos. But it can also be very dangerous, as a story out of China shows. As reported by CNN and at TechCrunch, a man who took pictures of a confrontation between townspeople and a company dumping waste was beaten to death by private security guards.
Although many stories describe Wei Wenhua, 41, as “a blogger,” he appears to have been a construction company official who merely started to record the fracas on his cellphone. A group of more than 15 “chengguan,” or private security contractors — sometimes referred to as “city inspectors” — reportedly attacked him and he was dead before he reached the hospital. In a press release, Reporters Without Borders calls Wei the first citizen journalist to die in China.