There is a possibility that in recent weeks, a few particularly bold Southern Metropolis Daily editorials, for instance, or hot China Business News scoops, have not gotten quite the Web play that they naturally should.
If so, there is a reason for that. At the outset of the National People’s Congress session last month, a top-level editor with major news portal tells us, the portal was warned not to post flammable headlines from those two papers – Southern Metropolis Daily ÔºàÂçóÊñπÈÉΩÂ∏ÇÊä•Ôºâ and China Business News ( Á¨¨‰∏ÄË¥¢ÁªèÊó•Êä•). The phrasing of the order and the identity of the organ responsible for it were not completely clear. But the basic intention was. This was a targeted strike.
“These two papers have been getting on top of stories rather fast,” says the editor. “So they want to try to limit them from circulating over the Internet.” Short of bottling up a given scandal, propaganda departments at minimum could buy a bit of time to control the fallout.
Good luck to them. It’s hard to say whether the order has had much of an impact, asserts the source. “Maybe we were more careful to start. But something like that is very hard to enforce.” Even if it were the case that mainland portals are not linking to stories from the two papers as often, other reporters around the country are still reading and following up on their articles.
This editor did point to one example where the alleged order might have had a demonstrable impact. Earlier in April, the China Business Post broke the news of the corruption probe facing the party secretary of Beijing’s Haidian district, Zhou Liangluo, part of slow yet mushrooming dragnet over the past sins of the city’s highest officials. However, the CBN exclusive about the bust did not travel very far. Instead it was a pick-up of that story, in Singapore’s Lianhe Zaobao, that popularized it online.
The Zhou story is a difficult test case, of course, since it’s touchy to begin with. Still, a Google or Baidu search for the original China Business News dispatch reveals that most portals, including Sohu and Eachnet, never even picked it up. Sina, on the other hand, did. But the Sina link is now broken, which indicates the piece was expunged at some point from the site. It still can be found on many blogs and bulletin boards, individual newspaper sites and in Baidu’s cache
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