The heavy-handed rewriting of the Southern Weekly newspaper’s traditional New Year greeting has triggered a staff strike, a barrage of letters and petitions, and an upwelling of popular support both on- and offline. In the midst of it all, according to the Associated Press, newspaper staff have been trying to negotiate a settlement with their official managers [See below for an update on the meeting]:
On Tuesday, the paper’s editorial committee was to hold a fourth round of negotiations with its top management, which is part of the provincial propaganda office, according to a Southern Weekly editor. The editor spoke on condition of anonymity because of an internal directive not to talk to the foreign media.
Propaganda officials want the newspaper to publish — as per normal — on Thursday but editors are negotiating over whether to do so, and the terms under which they would be willing, for example, if they could include a letter to readers explaining the incident, the editor said.
The committee is also pushing a larger appeal to abolish censorship of the newspaper’s content prior to publication, the editor said. The suggestion is that Communist Party leaders could provide direction but not interfere with reporting and editing, and should refrain from taking issue with content until after publication, the editor said.
Meanwhile, protests continued outside Southern Weekly’s headquarters, with the newspaper’s supporters facing off against a small Maoist counter-protest. From James Pomfret at Reuters:
The scuffles broke out after supporters of the paper, published on Thursdays, jeered and skirmished with a small band of leftists holding posters of Chairman Mao Zedong and signs denouncing the Southern Weekly as “a traitor newspaper” for defying the party.
“These people (leftists) are paid agitators of the government, twisting the truth with propaganda. We had to do something about
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