How does the media help hold politicians accountable in countries with competitive elections has been well studied. However, whether and how media could discipline non- elected officials remain unclear. In this paper, I examine the effect of negative news coverage on political selection in China. To be specific, I evaluate how news reports on fatal coal mine accidents influence prefectural party secretaries’ likelihood of promotion. I find media coverage, rather than the coal mine accident itself, decreases the possibility of politicians’ promotion. This effect is more substantial when the media is non-local. Our results suggest that even with serious media control, there is publicity-induced accountability in China. The accountability-enhancing effect of media is driven by informing the public rather than informing the principle. I also propose that the M-form hierarchy of bureaucracy and economic decentralization create considerable discretion for media, which although limited, can hold politicians accountable.