An internal standoff has escalated into a full-blown crisis at Southern Weekly (formerly known as Southern Weekend), where Guangdong’s propaganda chief meddled in the publication’s annual “New Year’s Greeting” last week and prompted calls for his resignation. The South China Morning Post reported today that the tussle has taken to the microblogosphere and Southern Weekly’s editorial staff have decided to strike:
It is the first time in more than two decades that the editorial staff of a major newspaper has openly staged a strike against government censorship.
The decision was made after the newspaper management took over the department’s official microblog account, and issued a statement claiming that a controversial front-page New Year editorial had been written by its staff and was not a last-minute alteration by Guangdong propaganda officials. The management also blamed a blunder in the article on an editor.
The staff later issued a statement via another microblog denying the management’s account and announced a strike. Unlike two previous open letters issued by the department, last night’s statement was signed.
“The statement [on the official microblog] does not represent the opinion of the editorial staff. It is a result of pressure applied by the authorities on the … management,” the department said. “The editorial staff will fight against the falsified statement … Until the issue is resolved, we will not do any editorial work.”
Physical or “offline” protests were also scheduled to take place today at Southern Weekly’s offices in Guangzhou and Beijing, according to John Kennedy at the South China Morning Post, who has been posting and tweeting live updates and photos (including the ones below) on the developing situation:
Official statements of protest were issued by students at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou and Nanjing University School of Journalism and Communication. Middle school students were...
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