BEIJING, China - From his temporary home on a friend's sofa, Yin Yusheng hopes to craft a new kind of journalism in China, where the industry is widely seen as state-controlled and corrupt. He wants to make his readers the boss — and that includes paying his salary.

Once users pledge 5,000 yuan ($800) — half his monthly pay when he worked for a business daily — he takes a story up. He has completed one piece since beginning his experiment in crowdfunding in September, appealing to those who are "tired of the praises sung by the state-run media."

Journalism in China is held in low esteem by many members of the public, not just because virtually all media is state-controlled and toes the government line, but also because of dirty practices dating back to the 1990s. Journalists regularly demand money from companies or individuals not to report a negative story about them, and expect a "red envelope" with cash to report a positive development or to turn up at a press conference.

Yin, who lost a reporting job at a magazine earlier this year when it changed from a weekly to a monthly, wants to be beholden only to the news-reading public, and is testing whether crowdfunding from online donations can give him a stable income.

In an online mission statement, he says crowdfunding can make a product successful, save a company and bring donations to the weak and vulnerable. "In the same way, it can give us the truth," he writes.

There already are several self-styled citizen journalists in China publishing online reports on their own websites. Yin said he wants to bring a professional standard to this kind of reporting and thinks colleagues in the industry may follow his lead because such reporting "enjoys a little more sliver of freedom" than working in the state-controlled industry.

Yin, 43, has advertised his story ideas on China's two largest microblogging sites and the online marketplace Taobao.

The crowdfunded investigative piece he has completed was about Chen Baocheng, a Beijing reporter detained during a protest over a land demolition in his hometown. Yin's pitch attracted the required funding within 24 hours. A week and a half later, he uploaded the finished piece onto two Twitter-like microblogging sites, Sina Weibo and Tencent Weibo.

State media stories on the case tended to focus on police and lawyers' reactions, but Yin's vivid report was based on more than 20 interviews with police, lawyers, witnesses, local officials and some of those who had been detained. Some reports alleged that Chen doused an excavator operator in gasoline, but Yin's report found that he had arrived only after others had already poured the fuel.

Yin also tweets from the scene. "I am on the scene, meaning you are on the scene as well," his promise to readers goes.

His plan came from discussions with friends who, like him, entered print journalism from backgrounds in computer science or online media, and who began to see the Internet's power to usurp traditional media.

"We began to ask ourselves the question: Why do we have to confine ourselves to one specific media outlet? Many of us had already become quite influential, so publishing an article online might have more public impact," he said in an interview at a Beijing cafe.

In the U.S. and Europe, journalists and activists have used crowdfunding sites such as Kickstarter to find money for one-off creative projects, like a first book or a documentary. A number of sites also have experimented with such financing for journalists in the past few years, especially in the United States, said George Brock, a journalism professor at City University London.

"I don't think it's going to be the central plank or pillar of a new business model for journalism, but the experiments that have been done in it have shown that projects that catch people's imagination, whether they be Web or print or film, really can raise money," Brock said.

Yin set his limit at 5,000 yuan, which is also slated to cover his expenses, in hopes of discouraging the notion that a big spender could control his agenda. He uploaded details on the 1,955 yuan he spent covering his first report, including photos of bus and train tickets and other receipts.

He is saving money by staying in a friend's apartment, which he says might also make it more difficult for officials to track him down.

He risks becoming a target in the government's intensified crackdown on online expression. In recent months, China's leaders have clamped down on what they call online rumours and efforts to erode the rule of the Communist Party through lies and negative news. Their targets have included celebrity bloggers that call attention to social injustices.

Even if the government does not detain Yin, it could scrub his reports from the Internet.

"The key point here is the distribution question" and whether Yin's reports will be censored, said David Bandurski, a researcher with the China Media Project at Hong Kong University. "All Internet is China is in a recent period of extreme intensification of control and he's dealing — presumably if he's doing investigations — with sensitive issues."

___

Follow Louise Watt on Twitter at twitter.com/louise_watt

Related on HuffPost:

Loading Slideshow...
  • Filipino journalists and supporters light candles to be placed on top of mock coffins during a rally to denounce killings of journalists in suburban Manila, Philippines on Friday, Nov. 23, 2012. Relatives and supporters of 58 people, including 32 media workers, massacred in the Philippines in the country's worst election violence held protest marches Friday to mark the third anniversary of the carnage to demand a speedy trial for nearly 200 suspects and an end to political killings. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

  • A Filipino journalists and supporters march, carrying mock coffins during a rally to denounce killings of journalists in suburban Manila, Philippines on Friday, Nov. 23, 2012. Relatives and supporters of 58 people, including 32 media workers, massacred in the Philippines in the country's worst election violence held protest marches Friday to mark the third anniversary of the carnage to demand a speedy trial for nearly 200 suspects and an end to political killings. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

  • A Filipino activist places candles on top of mock coffins during a rally to denounce killings of journalists in suburban Manila, Philippines on Friday, Nov. 23, 2012. Relatives and supporters of 58 people, including 32 media workers, massacred in the Philippines in the country's worst election violence held protest marches Friday to mark the third anniversary of the carnage to demand a speedy trial for nearly 200 suspects and an end to political killings. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

  • PHILIPPINES - POLITICS - MASSACRE

    A Philippine journalist raises a clenched fists as they carry pictures of slain journalists during a protest at the Malacanang Palace in Manila on November 23, 2012, to commemorate the third anniversary of the November 23 Maguindanao massacre. Dozens of members of a clan whose leaders are on trial for the Philippines' worst political massacre are candidates in 2013 elections, some for the president's party, media and rights groups said November 23. The revelations sparked outrage on the three-year anniversary of the massacre, in which 58 people died, with critics saying the Ampatuan family's enduring political influence underlined the country's 'culture of impunity'. AFP PHOTO/NOEL CELIS (Photo credit should read NOEL CELIS/AFP/Getty Images)

  • PHILIPPINES - POLITICS - MASSACRE

    A Philippine journalist walks among mock coffins during a protest at the Malacanang Palace in Manila on November 23, 2012, to commemorate the third anniversary of the November 23 Maguindanao massacre. Dozens of members of a clan whose leaders are on trial for the Philippines' worst political massacre are candidates in 2013 elections, some for the president's party, media and rights groups said November 23. The revelations sparked outrage on the three-year anniversary of the massacre, in which 58 people died, with critics saying the Ampatuan family's enduring political influence underlined the country's 'culture of impunity'. AFP PHOTO/NOEL CELIS (Photo credit should read NOEL CELIS/AFP/Getty Images)

  • HUNGARY-MEDIA-POLICY

    A woman sits on a chair as former Hungarian journalists of the state public television protest against the media policy in front of the headquarters of Hungarian Television (MTVA) in Budapest, on November 20, 2012 during the 346th day of their demonstration. AFP PHOTO / ATTILA KISBENEDEK (Photo credit should read ATTILA KISBENEDEK/AFP/Getty Images)

  • MOROCCO-PRESS-DEMONSTRATION

    Moroccans take part in a demonstration in front the ministry of justice to protest against the violence from the police on journalists and photographers in Rabat, on November 15, 2012 . AFP PHOTO /FADEL SENNA (Photo credit should read FADEL SENNA/AFP/Getty Images)

  • GREECE-FINANCE-ECONOMY-PUBLIC-DEBT

    Journalists march during a demonstration as part of a 24-hour media blackout of print, broadcast and electronic media on November 5, 2012 in Athens, as a banner calling for a 48-hour general strike on November 6 and 7, 2012 is seen at left. Public transport and media workers opened a week of strikes in Greece on November 5, contesting fresh austerity measures needed for a lifeline from creditors which are due to be presented by the government to parliament. The metro in Athens was shut and only one tram line circulated on Monday, while taxi drivers halted services, severely disrupting traffic in the capital. AFP PHOTO / LOUISA GOULIAMAKI/Greece Out (Photo credit should read LOUISA GOULIAMAKI/AFP/Getty Images)

  • GREECE-FINANCE-PUBLIC-DEBT-STRIKE

    Journalists attend a demonstration as part of a 24-hour media blackout of print, broadcast and electronic media journalists in central Athens on November 5, 2012. Public transport and media workers opened a week of strikes in Greece today, contesting fresh austerity measures needed for a lifeline from creditors which the government is due to introduce to parliament. AFP PHOTO / LOUISA GOULIAMAKI (Photo credit should read LOUISA GOULIAMAKI/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Journalists cast their shadows on the road during a protest, in Athens Wednesday, Oct. 31 2012. Greece's two main labor unions covering civil servants and the private sector have called a 48-hour strike to protest austerity measures due to be voted on next week. The strike call came as the finance minister submitted an amended 2013 budget that raised the country's debt and deficit forecasts for next year. (AP Photo/Kostas Tsironis)

  • PAKISTAN-UNREST-SOUTHWEST-MEDIA

    Pakistani journalists shout slogans during a demonstration against the killing of a local journalist in Karachi on October 2, 2012. Journalists across Pakistan staged protest rallies to condemn the killing of a television reporter in insurgency-torn Baluchistan on the Afghan and Iranian border. Police said Abdul Haq Baluch, 37, who worked for private TV channel ARY, was shot last week while driving home in the town of Khuzdar, 230 kilometres (145 miles) south of the provincial capital Quetta. AFP PHOTO / ASIF HASSAN (Photo credit should read ASIF HASSAN/AFP/GettyImages)

  • PAKISTAN-UNREST-SOUTHWEST-MEDIA

    Pakistani journalists shout slogans during a demonstration against the killing of a local journalist in Lahore on October 2, 2012. Journalists across Pakistan staged protest rallies Tuesday to condemn the killing of a television reporter in insurgency-torn Baluchistan on the Afghan and Iranian border. Police said Abdul Haq Baluch, 37, who worked for private TV channel ARY, was shot last week while driving home in the town of Khuzdar, 230 kilometres (145 miles) south of the provincial capital Quetta. AFP PHOTO / ARIF ALI (Photo credit should read Arif Ali/AFP/GettyImages)

  • PAKISTAN-UNREST-SOUTHWEST-MEDIA

    Pakistani journalists shout slogans during a demonstration against the killing of a local journalist in Karachi on October 2, 2012. Journalists across Pakistan staged protest rallies to condemn the killing of a television reporter in insurgency-torn Baluchistan on the Afghan and Iranian border. Police said Abdul Haq Baluch, 37, who worked for private TV channel ARY, was shot last week while driving home in the town of Khuzdar, 230 kilometres (145 miles) south of the provincial capital Quetta. AFP PHOTO / ASIF HASSAN (Photo credit should read ASIF HASSAN/AFP/GettyImages)

  • TUNISIA-POLITICS-MEDIA

    Tunisian journalists hold signs and shout slogans during a protest at the headquarters of the Dar Assabah press group in Tunis on October 2, 2012. A hunger strike was observed by some staff members of the group which publishes Assabah and Le Temps newspapers as journalists called for more freedom and demanded the expulsion of a government-appointed director general. Sign (C) reads in French 'Free Press'. AFP PHOTO/FETHI BELAID (Photo credit should read FETHI BELAID/AFP/GettyImages)

  • TUNISIA-POLITICS-MEDIA

    Tunisian journalists gather during a protest at the headquarters of the Dar Assabah press group in Tunis on October 2, 2012. A hunger strike was observed by some staff members of the group which publishes Assabah and Le Temps newspapers as journalists called for more freedom and demanded the expulsion of a government-appointed director general. AFP PHOTO/FETHI BELAID (Photo credit should read FETHI BELAID/AFP/GettyImages)

  • FRANCE-MEDIA-FRANCE3-ASSEMBLY-STRIKE

    Technicians and journalists of the French state-run television channel France 3 take part in a general assembly to protest against a restructuring and cost-reduction plan, on September 14, 2012, in Montpellier, southern France. The assembly decided a strike notice for September 21, date of the France 3 works council in Bordeaux. This plan is part of a planned merger of the France 2 and France 3 editorial offices, according to trade-unions. AFP PHOTO / PASCAL GUYOT (Photo credit should read PASCAL GUYOT/AFP/GettyImages)

  • TURKEY-SYRIA-CONFLICT-MEDIA

    More than 100 Turkish journalists protest in front of the Syrian Embassy in Ankara on August 31, 2012, to demand the release of two Turkish reporters, cameraman Cuneyt Unal and TV correspondent Bashar Fahmi, reportedly being held by the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Turkish cameraman Cuneyt Unal and his colleague Bashar Fahmi, who both work for the US-funded al-Hurra network, have been missing in Syria for 11 days and are reportedly being held by government troops. AFP PHOTO / ADEM ALTAN (Photo credit should read ADEM ALTAN/AFP/GettyImages)

  • BOLIVIA-PRESS-TRIAL-PROTEST

    Bolivian journalists struggle with riot police as they try to join a protest on August 29, 2012 in Plaza Murillo in La Paz, against the lawsuit against three news media and demanding their case to be handled by Bolivia's Press Court. AFP PHOTO/Jorge BERNAL (Photo credit should read JORGE BERNAL/AFP/GettyImages)

  • EGYPT-DEMO-JOURNALISTS

    Dozens of Egyptian journalists, writers and artists take part in a demonstration in downtown Cairo on August 23, 2012, against the Muslim Brotherhood and the detention of journalists, in support of Egyptian editor Islam Afifi. Afifi, who is facing charges of spreading false news and was remanded in custody on August 23, will be freed following a presidential decree scrapping preventive detention in the case of publishing crimes. AFP PHOTO / KHALED DESOUKI (Photo credit should read KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Malian journalists take to the streets o

    Malian journalists take to the streets of Bamako on July 17, 2012 during a day of 'Dead Press' to protest recent attacks against journalists by armed men believed to be linked to the former junta. No private newspapers were printed and private radio stations will not broadcast for the day, a protest organised by local press groups with the support of Reporters Without Borders. AFP PHOTO / HABIBOU KOUYATE (Photo credit should read HABIBOU KOUYATE/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Sri Lankan journalists protesting harass

    Sri Lankan journalists protesting harassment of media personnel and independent websites stage a demonstration in Colombo on July 12, 2012. The demonstration came as Sri Lanka announced new laws to crack down against opposition news portals. AFP PHOTO/ Ishara S.KODIKARA (Photo credit should read Ishara S.KODIKARA/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Sri Lankan journalists protesting harass

    Sri Lankan journalists protesting harassment of media personnel and independent websites stage a demonstration in Colombo on July 12, 2012. The demonstration came as Sri Lanka announced new laws to crack down against opposition news portals. AFP PHOTO/ Ishara S.KODIKARA (Photo credit should read Ishara S.KODIKARA/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Reporters Without Borders (Reporters San

    Reporters Without Borders (Reporters Sans Frontieres- RSF) activists take part in a protest in front of an Iran Air agency in Paris, on July 10, 2012 to denounce journalists' imprisonment in Iran and to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the death in jail of Iranian photo-reporter Zahra Kazemi. AFP PHOTO / LOIC VENANCE (Photo credit should read LOIC VENANCE/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Israeli journalists protest against Israel's Attorney General

    JERUSALEM, ISRAEL - JUNE 03: (ISRAEL OUT) Israeli journalists protest against Israel's Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein , next to the Ministry of Justice on June 03, 2012 in Jerusalem, Israel. Weinstein announced his intention to indict Haaretz journalist Uri Blau for possession of classified Israel Defense Forces documents. (Photo by Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images)

  • sraeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a weekly cabinet meeting

    JERUSALEM, ISRAEL - JUNE 03: (ISRAEL OUT) Israeli journalists protest against Israel's Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein , next to the Ministry of Justice on June 03, 2012 in Jerusalem, Israel. Weinstein announced his intention to indict Haaretz journalist Uri Blau for possession of classified Israel Defense Forces documents. (Photo by Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images)

  • (FILE) Mexican journalist Carmen Aristeg

    (FILE) Mexican journalist Carmen Aristegui and other colleagues, relatives and friends of murdered journalists place candles and pictures in an altar erected at the Independence Angel monument in Mexico City on May 5, 2012 during a vigil to protest against violence towards the press. On Thursday Mexican security forces found the dismembered bodies of missing news photographers Guillermo Luna Varela and Gabriel Huge and two other people in bags dumped in a canal in the eastern state of Veracruz. The bodies of the photographers, who worked for the Veracruz news photo agency, also showed signs of torture. Since 2006 more than 50.000 people have died by violence, many of them as a consequence of drug trafficking existence. AFP PHOTO/Yuri CORTEZ (Photo credit should read YURI CORTEZ/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Journalists demonstrate in central Athen

    Journalists demonstrate in central Athens on May 28, 2012 in protest at cuts to jobs and salaries prompted by the country's financial crisis and recession. Greek media largely shut down today as journalists staged a 24-hour strike News bulletins were absent from most television and radio stations, the main news agency ANA stopped publishing and major news websites were not updated. News stands were due to be empty of most newspapers tomorrow. AFP PHOTO / LOUISA GOULIAMAKI (Photo credit should read LOUISA GOULIAMAKI/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Journalists, journalism students and rel

    Journalists, journalism students and relatives of the victims take part in a demonstration demanding punishment for the killers of journalists, during the celebration of the Day of the Journalist in Tegucigalpa, el 25 de Mayo de 2012. AFP PHOTO/Orlando SIERRA. (Photo credit should read ORLANDO SIERRA/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Journalists, journalism students and rel

    Journalists, journalism students and relatives of the victims take part in a demonstration demanding punishment for the killers of journalists, during the celebration of the Day of the Journalist in Tegucigalpa, el 25 de Mayo de 2012. AFP PHOTO/Orlando SIERRA. (Photo credit should read ORLANDO SIERRA/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Journalism students take part in a demon

    Journalism students take part in a demonstration demanding punishment for the killers of HRN la Voz de Honduras' journalist Alfredo Villatoro, during the celebration of the Day of the Journalist in Tegucigalpa, el 25 de Mayo de 2012. AFP PHOTO/Orlando SIERRA. (Photo credit should read ORLANDO SIERRA/AFP/GettyImages)

  • A journalist takes part in a demonstrati

    A journalist takes part in a demonstration demanding punishment for the killers of HRN la Voz de Honduras' journalist Alfredo Villatoro, during the celebration of the Day of the Journalist in Tegucigalpa, el 25 de Mayo de 2012. The tape on the activist's mouth reads 'If I Speak I Die'. AFP PHOTO/Orlando SIERRA. (Photo credit should read ORLANDO SIERRA/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Journalism students take part in a demon

    Journalism students take part in a demonstration demanding punishment for the killers of HRN la Voz de Honduras' journalist Alfredo Villatoro, during the celebration of the Day of the Journalist in Tegucigalpa, el 25 de Mayo de 2012. AFP PHOTO/Orlando SIERRA. (Photo credit should read ORLANDO SIERRA/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Journalists sit down as they protest whi

    Journalists sit down as they protest while leader of the far-right Golden Dawn party Nikos Michaloliakos arrives to a meeting with Greek President Carolos Papoulias (unseen) at the Presidential Palace in Athens on May 13, 2012. Papoulias began today meeting small Greek parties in a final bid to forge an emergency cabinet and avert new elections. AFP PHOTO/ POOL/ LOUISA GOULIAMAKI (Photo credit should read LOUISA GOULIAMAKI/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Colleagues, relatives and friends of mur

    Colleagues, relatives and friends of murdered journalists place candles and pictures in an altar erected at the Independence Angel monument in Mexico City on May 5, 2012 during a vigil to protest against violence towards the press. On Thursday Mexican security forces found the dismembered bodies of missing news photographers Guillermo Luna Varela and Gabriel Huge and two other people in bags dumped in a canal in the eastern state of Veracruz. The bodies of the photographers, who worked for the Veracruz news photo agency, also showed signs of torture. AFP PHOTO/Yuri CORTEZ (Photo credit should read YURI CORTEZ/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Colleagues, relatives and friends of mur

    Colleagues, relatives and friends of murdered journalists place candles and pictures in an altar erected at the Independence Angel monument in Mexico City on May 5, 2012 during a vigil to protest against violence towards the press. On Thursday Mexican security forces found the dismembered bodies of missing news photographers Guillermo Luna Varela and Gabriel Huge and two other people in bags dumped in a canal in the eastern state of Veracruz. The bodies of the photographers, who worked for the Veracruz news photo agency, also showed signs of torture. AFP PHOTO/Yuri CORTEZ (Photo credit should read YURI CORTEZ/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Colleagues, relatives and friends of mur

    Colleagues, relatives and friends of murdered journalists place candles and pictures in an altar erected at the Independence Angel monument in Mexico City on May 5, 2012 during a vigil to protest against violence towards the press. On Thursday Mexican security forces found the dismembered bodies of missing news photographers Guillermo Luna Varela and Gabriel Huge and two other people in bags dumped in a canal in the eastern state of Veracruz. The bodies of the photographers, who worked for the Veracruz news photo agency, also showed signs of torture. The sign reads 'Halt To The Deaths of Journalists'. AFP PHOTO/Yuri CORTEZ (Photo credit should read YURI CORTEZ/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Colleagues, relatives and friends of mur

    Colleagues, relatives and friends of murdered journalists place candles and pictures in an altar erected at the Independence Angel monument in Mexico City on May 5, 2012 during a vigil to protest against violence towards the press. On Thursday Mexican security forces found the dismembered bodies of missing news photographers Guillermo Luna Varela and Gabriel Huge and two other people in bags dumped in a canal in the eastern state of Veracruz. The bodies of the photographers, who worked for the Veracruz news photo agency, also showed signs of torture. AFP PHOTO/Yuri CORTEZ (Photo credit should read YURI CORTEZ/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Mexican journalists protest for the murd

    Mexican journalists protest for the murders of colleagues in Mexico, on May 4, 2012. Mexican security forces Thursday found the dismembered bodies of missing news photographers Guillermo Luna Varela and Gabriel Huge and two other people in bags dumped in a canal in the eastern state of Veracruz. The man on the poster (L) is Veracruz State Governor Javier Duarte. AFP PHOTO/RONALDO SCHEMIDT (Photo credit should read Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Journalist hold placards reading "We are

    Journalist hold placards reading 'We are guarantors of the constitutional right to information' and 'There is no democracy without journalism' during a demonstration to mark the World Press Freedom Day on May 03, 2012 in Madrid. More than 6,000 journalists have lost their jobs since the beginning of the economical crisis in Spain in 2008. The World Press Freedom Day raises awareness on the importance of press freedom and reminds governments of their duty to respect it in theory and practice. AFP PHOTO/DOMINIQUE FAGET (Photo credit should read DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/GettyImages)

  • A Bahraini journalist holds a sign readi

    A Bahraini journalist holds a sign reading in Arabic 'Journalists: a year of arbitrary dismissal' in front of the ministry of labour in Isa Town, south of the capital Manama, during a demonstration of Shiite employees who were dismissed from their jobs because they attended pro-democracy protests, on April 18, 2012. Many Shiite employees were either dismissed or indefinitely suspended from their jobs in the wake of a brutal crackdown on a Shiite-led month-long protest in February and March, 2012. AFP PHOTO / STR (Photo credit should read -/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Greek photojournalists stage a protest o

    Greek photojournalists stage a protest outside the Ministry of Citizen's Protection on April 6, 2012, after a photographer sustained a serious head injury from a police truncheon while covering an anti-austerity protest, in another case of police brutality against media. The incident occurred as several hundred people gathered in Athens to protest against government austerity measures in the name of a 77-year-old pensioner who committed suicide on Wednesday apparently over debt despair. AFP PHOTO/ LOUISA GOULIAMAKI (Photo credit should read LOUISA GOULIAMAKI/AFP/Getty Images)