The columnist, Chang Ping, said he was forced out because his bosses were “under pressure” from government propaganda authorities.
The executive editor, Zhuang Shenzhi, said that the publisher had decided not to extend Mr. Chang’s contract. “The paper thought some of his work was inappropriate,” he explained said in a telephone interview late Thursday.
The authorities in China commonly dismiss reporters and editors who defy censors.
Mr. Chang, 42, has a reputation for writing about some of the most politically sensitive topics, including democracy, media censorship, the failures of government policy and Tibet. His commentaries appeared in Southern Weekend and Southern Metropolis Weekly, both of which are published by the Southern Daily Group.
Read more by and about Chang Ping and his recent troubles at the Southern News Group via CDT.
Update: See also a report from the Guardian:
Zhang has repeatedly been punished for tackling sensitive issues and was banned from writing columns for the Southern Weekend and Southern Metropolis Daily newspapers last July.
“Now I have ‘been resigned’. It is not just because of one particular article, it is because I have always written critical articles,” he told the Guardian today.
“Many times I have been told not to write and that if I agreed I would be able to get more benefits than now, but I refused. The reason the paper is giving is that ‘pressure from above is too great’.”
He added: “The whole media environment is changing. It has become tighter since the Nobel peace prize.”