Southern Weekly journalists say propaganda office “raped” their editorial autonomy
The page editor at Southern Weekly, a Guangdong daily newspaper, left work two days ago thinking his section was set. The next day, he and everyone else discovered a pro-government introductory message in their paper, headlined “Pursuing dreams,” that no one had previously seen, according to SCMP.
Southern Weekly journalists were angry, and they’re letting the public know via an open letter. SCMP has the story:
They accused the propaganda office of “raping” the paper’s editorial autonomy. While recognising that the paper could not refuse to run the introductory message, they remained defiant, opening a microblog account and issuing an open letter – later removed – expressing their frustration. About 15 of them were subjected to restrictions on their use of microblogs after discussing the incident at work.
“We demand an investigation into the incident, which has seen proper editorial procedure severely violated and a major factual error printed,” the open letter said.
It is rare for mainland journalists to collectively and openly challenge the authorities, given that it might cost them their jobs or subject them to official harassment. But a journalist working at the paper said most editorial staff supported the action and were contemplating the next move, declining to say whether there would be a campaign to gather signatures.
The article had already gone through revisions before the propaganda office, still not satisfied, seized editorial control without telling anyone. Who needs reporters when you can do everything yourself?