Bloggers warned about dangers of reporting after death

Bloggers are being warned about the dangers of reporting on volatile situations following the murder of a Chinese man who was filming a confrontation between villagers and government officials.

According to China's Xinhua news agency, police have detained 24 municipal inspectors following the death of a 41-year-old construction company executive called Wei Wenhua.

He had been filming their confrontation with villagers, who were protesting over the dumping of waste. According to reports, inspectors turned on the man and attacked him. He was taken to hospital, but declared dead on arrival.

Now the Chartered Institute of Journalists has called on other bloggers and citizen journalists to be aware of recognising potential dangers and to withdraw from a situation if it becomes dangerous.

It is also calling on news organisations that encourage readers and viewers to send in user- generated content on breaking news stories to think carefully about whether they will take responsibility if similar incidents occur.

The BBC and Sky News both make direct appeals for UGC during news programmes as viewers send in video and pictures taken on their mobile phones.

Dominic Cooper, general secretary of the institute, said: "What is more likely to happen is that these organisations will look at the ground, shuffle their feet and mumble protestations that it is nothing to do with them.

"Citizen journalists would do well to recognise that they will be entirely on their own should anything happen to them while trying to gather material for an outfit that will neither pay them for it, ensure they are trained, or provide any safety guidance or equipment."

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