Peter Zhong, 2002 winner
RFA broadcaster Peter Zhong was taught in China that a journalist’s first objective is to report the truth. But that was in the mid-1980s, when Zhong was a student and China was enjoying farreaching reforms ushered in by then paramount leader Deng Xiaoping.
Everything changed with Beijing’s June 4, 1989, crackdown on pro-democracy protesters, said Zhong, a winner of the 2002 David Burke Distinguished Journalism Award for his weekly “Investigative Report.”
“One of my first investigative reports after university was about Tiananmen Square,” he said. “I had witnessed authorities brutally killing peaceful protesters. The next day the official media reported that students had brutally killed Chinese soldiers. I was shocked. I was always taught in journalism school to tell the truth… But the official Chinese media had lied.”
Zhong’s education had left indelible lessons, however, and as the Chinese authorities systematically reversed a decade of liberalization, he decided to leave the country to put his learning to use. On the weekly program he now broadcasts for RFA’s Mandarin Service, Zhong investigates stories the Chinese media have reported inaccurately or failed to report at all. He also aims to draw attention to the lives of ordinary people, left to fend for themselves in an increasingly market-driven economy without adequate safety nets and often exploited by unscrupulous employers and officials