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A Chinese TV journalist was suspended for wearing sunglasses and carrying an umbrella to protect herself from the sun while being on camera. The unidentified reporter was photographed when she was interviewing volunteers, who were helping to clean up after Typhoon Meranti, in the Chinese port city of Xiamen.
According to a BBC report, her appearance with the accessories was construed an act of disrespect to the volunteers cleaning up after the storm. This year's typhoon was believed to be the strongest one of 2016, which claimed the lives of one person each in China and Taiwan.
"One of our journalists didn't obey our rules and misconducted in an interview. That damages the image of [the] journalist and causes a negative impact to the public," Xiamen TV station said in a statement.
Soon after the image of the media professional went viral, users of Weibo, the Chinese social media platform started posting their views on it. Many accused her of being unprofessional, while some came out in support of her.
One Weibo user asked whether the TV station had been clear that its journalists "cannot have sunglasses on. Or is the station forced to suspend the journalist because of public pressure and anger?"
Another user, Pan, said, "If you know how difficult and hard it is to be a journalist, you would not focus on her accessories."
Yet another user alleged that the journalist lacked manners and failed to show respect to the people she was on camera with.
Meanwhile, Yanping Zhang, one of the first persons to repost the image of the journalist online, said the punishment given to the reporter was a bit too harsh and "an internal verbal warning should be fine".
"What I intended to do was show the public that it's disrespectful for a journalist to wear sunglasses and hold an umbrella in an interview."
But because she reposted the photograph, Zhang has also fallen foul of some social media users, who have called her a modern day Red Guard, a reference to the youths who enforced the principles of China's Cultural Revolution. "I am very innocent. I even don't know the journalist personally," Zhang said in her defence.
A Shanghai-based female TV journalist, Yijing Lin, said people in China expect journalists to have smart and intellectually-driven personalities. "I wouldn't call it a stereotype, but it does happen," Lin said.
It is not clear whether the journalist's suspension will lead to her dismissal, but the incident has raised questions on the ethics of journalism in China, the BBC reported.