25 Years Ago: Journalists Call For Freedom of Press

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the nationwide, student-led democracy movement in China, and the subsequent June 4th military crackdown in Beijing. To commemorate the student movement, CDT is posting a series of original news articles from 1989, beginning with the death of Hu Yaobang on April 15 and continuing through the tumultuous spring. The full series can be read here.


From the May 10, 1989 New York Times
:

In the strongest appeal so far for freedom of the press in China, more than 1,000 journalists from official news organizations signed a petition that was presented to the Government today calling for talks with China’s leaders.

The goal of the talks would be to discuss independence of the press, broader coverage of major events like the recent student demonstrations, and the dismissal of the editor in chief of a Shanghai newspaper.

”The reason we are calling for such a dialogue is that our press coverage has attracted criticism at home and abroad,” said Li Datong, an editor at the China Youth News. ”We think that the press in Beijing has failed to be comprehensive and fair in its coverage. And we think this is the direct result of our current press system.”

The petition, which was presented to the All-China Journalists Association by about 100 journalists, criticized press censorship in coverage of the recent student demonstrations and demanded a change in the Communist Party’s role in press coverage.

See also a report from AP from the same day.

[This series was originally posted by CDT in 2009 to mark the 20th anniversary of the protests. If you have access to additional sources of original reporting, video, accounts or photos from the spring of 1989, please send them to us at cdt@chinadigitaltimes.net and we’ll consider including them in this series. Many thanks.]