This term was apparently coined by Internet users in the last several years to express general displeasure with poor ethics in the journalism profession in China. The term can be used to refer to unethical journalists from all media, but particularly from official party media.
In August 2010, the term was used again to vent popular anger over the conduct of journalists, but anger centered on Beijing Television (BTV), which was seen to have led official Beijing media in attacking popular crosstalk (相声) star Guo Degang (郭德纲) after his assistant struck out against two BTV reporters trying to report on allegations he had extended his home onto public land.
An online video release in August 2010 of the altercation between BTV and Guo Degang’s assistant clearly showed the BTV reporters entering Guo’s home without permission and filming without consent even after they had agreed not to and had said their camera is off.
The Chinese pronunciation of “whorespondent,” or jizhe, is actually identical to the pronunciation of the word “journalist,” also jizhe, but the character for ji in the latter (记), which means to “record,” is replaced in the former with the character for “prostitute” (妓).
For more reading on journalists and ethics in China, please see CMP fellow Chang Ping’s editorial “Why do we command such disrespect?”