A Chinese journalist has been suspended from work after she was photographed holding an umbrella and wearing sunglasses to shield herself from the sun while on camera.
The unnamed reporter was interviewing volunteers that were helping clean up after a Typhoon Meranti hit Xiamen, China. According to the BBC, her decision to wear the accessories while talking to the cleanup crew was somehow deemed as “disrespectful.”
The decision to suspend her came soon after the photo began circulating Chinese social media.
“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.
Yanping Zhang, who was one of the first people to circulate the image online, said the reactions was much harsher than she expected.
"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," she said. But because she reposted the photograph, some internet users are calling her a “Red Guard” — a youth organization during the days of Mao who enforced the principles of China's Cultural Revolution.
Zhang has defended herself stating she was “very innocent” and did not “know the journalist personally.”
Yet many on the internet have risen up to the defense of the journalist.
“Does the broadcaster have stipulations that say that journalists who appear on screen cannot hold umbrellas or wear sunglasses while doing interviews?” one internet user said.
"If you know how difficult and hard it is to be a journalist, you would not focus on her accessories,” said user Pan.
“Is it a common practice that as long as they are being pressured by the public, employers will impose tough punishment, whether or not the employees’ misdeeds are serious?” said user “Eclairask.”
A Shanghai-based TV journalist Yijing Lin has explained the angry reaction of the Chinese public claiming it was born of the society’s expectations of a reporter.
“I wouldn't call it a stereotype, but it does happen," she said.
It is yet unclear whether the suspension of the journalist will lead to her dismissal.