Moral Courage: Journalist Zhang Zhan

By | January 2, 2021

[January 2, 2021]  The grossly irresponsible behavior of the Chinese Communist government allowed the COVID-19 virus to spread throughout China and the world.  The spread of the virus occurred primarily as a result of the communist suppression of information.  Those who investigated this scandal were mistreated.  Chinese Journalist Zhang Zhan was recently sentenced to four years in prison for her reporting on the virus.  Her moral courage is now legendary.

As of this writing, it is estimated that 1.83 million people have died from the disease.1 Unquestionably, the Chinese government’s negligence will be the top story for decades to come, and lessons will be there for the taking.  I’m not sure the Chinese government has learn3ed anything from their failures.

The government’s handling of those who reported on the outbreak is a scandal within a scandal.2 The prison sentence for Journalist Zhang Zhan was handed down after a trial of fewer than three hours behind closed doors.  Her sentence was for “picking quarrels and provoking trouble.”  Clearly, this charge is merely a subtext for embarrassing the government.

The Washington Post reported on Zhang’s sentence in an article earlier this week.3  The fact it was reported at all in Western media comes as a surprise to some of us.  Western media – including the Washington Post – has had a poor track record on accurate reporting about the Coronavirus.  Typically, the news media has parroted Chinese government press reports.

Zhang traveled to Wuhan in February and filmed scenes from overwhelmed hospitals and locked-down neighborhoods.  Her reports accused the Communist government of suppressing citizens’ voices and failing to inform residents of the reality of the developing pandemic.  Her reporting contradicted the lies of state media.

For those familiar with my leadership blog, it may come as a surprise that I would highlight someone from China for their moral courage.  I have reported on the Chinese propensity to cover-up problems generally and this pandemic specifically.  “The new Coronavirus began to spread faster than determined Chinese censorship could hide it,” I wrote on January 28, 2020.4

Journalist Zhang stands out as an exemplary example of what the U.S. media should do regarding a severe public threat and yet failed.  The Western media’s bedmates with the Chinese government is another scandal that will reverberate in our history and will be regarded, appropriately, as the time when ethical standards were thrown away.

The moral courage of Zhang Zhan is truly legendary.


  1. Coronavirus Update (Live): 84,115,903 Cases and 1,830,979 Deaths from COVID-19 Virus Pandemic – Worldometer (
  2. China sentences coronavirus whistleblower to four years in jail | Power Line (
  3. Zhang Zhan sentenced to four years in prison for Wuhan coronavirus lockdown reports – The Washington Post
  4. The New Coronavirus and Chinese Censorship | (
Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article every day on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

20 thoughts on “Moral Courage: Journalist Zhang Zhan

  1. Frank 44

    Scary. But at least there is a glimmer of hope for the journalist profession after all.

    1. Zelma Strong

      Yeah, but journalists here think we are the bad guys and the Chinese communist party are the good guys.
      Go USA. 🇺🇸

  2. Jonathan B.

    I always look forward to being surprised by Gen. Satterfield in WHO he picks out as having moral courage. Unlike the Times Person of the Year, these are real people, not some ideologue or institution but a person who really did put their career and lives on the line.

  3. Dead Pool Guy

    I had not realized that 1.83 million people died from COVID 19. That is terrible. China could have notified us of the coming pandemic. I’m not so sure if we would have done anything different, however.

    1. Georgie M.

      Right, we would have underestimated its potency just like we did when we finally figured out what was happening. ✌

  4. JT Patterson

    I am also surprised that our mass (distorted) media reported on this. I guess they thought it was a chance to show that journalist do have moral courage after all. Well, I don’t think so.

    1. Yusaf from Texas

      Some do, in my opinion do have moral courage but you don’t see them working at the New York Times, the LA Times, the Washington Post, etc. You see them working at the local level in small towns and in the cold of Bangor Maine or the hot Lubbock Texas area.

  5. Kenny Foster

    Another good article. I’m happy you started the new year off with a moral courage story, Gen. Satterfield. I foresee, IMHO, that moral courage will be in less supply in the good ole USA because our kids are no longer taught to be free and independent but victims and pions of the govt.

  6. Tom Bushmaster

    The Chinese people are regularly beat down because of their totalitarian govt. Step out of line, you go to prison after a show trial. They know it, we know it, and that is a fact. Those who chose to conveniently ignore this, are blind to evil forces of the world. Everyone hoped that China would be a good neighbor to the world. Guess we were wrong.

    1. old warrior

      We saved China’s butt in WW2. Now they are after our butt. Go figure!

      1. Dennis Mathes

        There is no memory of that. Remember that is not what happened in the past so much as it is a power grab for the future.

    2. Stacey Borden

      It’s the gov ’ement …. Communism is a religion. It is all and everything. It must not have competition. That is why it destroys those that stray from the ideology like this journalist.

  7. Army Captain

    I’m not surprised, Gen. Satterfield, that you were able to find a person with moral courage. I think you are implying that to be a surprise that it would neither be a journalist (yuck! morons! leftists!) nor someone from China (yuck! communists!). The NY Post opinion page that you linked to gives a good description of the situation as well. Thanks. We are backing you on this one. Moral courage is moral courage regardless when or where it takes place.

    1. Dale Paul Fox

      Excellent comment Army Captain. Yes, journalists are generally morons who couldn’t cut it with a real college degree. I found this out when several of my engineering buddies dropped out of our engr program and went into journalism because “that is where the pretty girls were.”

      1. Harry Donner

        Another spot-on comment about the differences in folks who go to college with an end-state to be a good person or to just drift along.

    2. Forrest Gump

      Good comment, Army Cpt. Moral courage in a journalist is like a butterfly in hell, they don’t last long.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.