A Chinese radio reporter was sacked on Thursday, 16 November, for allegedly posing for photos at a road accident site that left 18 people dead and 21 injured.
The woman – who has been identified with just her surname, Ling – was employed with Fuyang Broadcasting Station in Anhui province when she took the pictures. She allegedly smiled before the camera, holding her media badge, and made a V for victory sign in front of the burnt-out vehicles, the South China Morning Post reported.
Ling had also reportedly posted the photos on Chinese social media platform Weibo, which prompted widespread criticism from people across the country.
The car pile-up had taken place on Wednesday, 15 November, due to thick fog, with local media reports saying that more than 30 vehicles had ploughed into each other. The collision had also caused a major fire, which was subsequently put under control by the Fuyang fire brigade. At least 17 people had to be rescued after the accident.
Fuyang Broadcasting Station said in an announcement on Thursday morning, "We decided to fire our staff reporter, surnamed Ling, due to her improper behaviour which triggered a negative impact in society."
People's Daily Online reported that Ling issued a public apology after being sacked. She posted a 10-second clip on social media, saying, "In response to the incident that happened today, I am here to apologise. Sorry, I have made a mistake."
This is not the first time a Chinese reporter has come under fire for being insensitive while covering stories. In July 2016, a journalist was suspended for wearing sunglasses and carrying an umbrella to protect herself from the sun while being on camera in a disaster-hit area. The unidentified TV reporter was interviewing volunteers at the time who were helping to clean up after Typhoon Meranti in the Chinese port city of Xiamen.
Her appearance with the accessories was construed as an act of disrespect to the volunteers cleaning up after the storm. Several people on Weibo accused her of being unprofessional and said that she lacked manners and failed to show respect to the people she was on camera with.