Chinese state media say police in Shanghai have detained eight people, including journalists at an influential financial news website, for allegedly extorting money from companies by threatening to publish negative news about them.

Xinhua News Agency said Thursday that employees at the news site www.21cbh.com colluded with public relations agencies to blackmail renowned companies or those trying to be listed on an exchange by threatening them with negative coverage. Xinhua says the suspects and their companies profited handsomely from the scheme, trading favorable coverage for money or advertising contracts.

In a brief online statement, the news site says it will cooperate with the investigation.

News extortion schemes are common in China, especially among its financial news media, although the government tightly controls political and social news.