Southern Weekly Protests: The Big Picture

Further reports have come out about a negotiated agreement between local propaganda officials and Southern Weekly to end the protests over heavy-handed censorship and allow the paper to publish on schedule tomorrow. From the New York Times: A former editor for the Nanfang Media Group, which includes Southern Weekend, said provincial propaganda officials and disgruntled journalists talked Tuesday in Guangzhou. The talks focused on the journalists’ demands for an inquiry into the New Year’s episode and for the newspaper’s managers to rescind a statement that absolved Mr. Tuo of responsibility for the editorial. “They want that statement to be removed, and they also want assurances about relaxing controls on journalists — not removing party oversight, but making it more reasonable, allowing reporters to challenge officials,” the editor said. “The other main demand is for an impartial explanation of what happened, an accounting so it won’t happen again.” While many expressed optimism over news of the settlement between Southern Weekend and propaganda officials, others felt that not much would change in the big picture. From the Financial Times: …Other journalists familiar with the situation remained pessimistic. “The leaders just want to end this incident, which has been embarrassing for them, but any relief will be temporary,” said a reporter at Southern Metropolis Daily, Southern Weekend’s sister paper. “Apart from that, Southern Weekend is a special case and has always been. A partial victory fought by them doesn’t mean a thaw in the broader censorship climate.” The New Yorker’s Evan Osnos explains why the recent interference of the propaganda department resonated so strongly for Southern Weekly journalists and so many of their colleagues around the country: Why has this escalated beyond the level of any of the daily acts of censorship at Chinese publications? From the look of it, it violated the ...
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