The following censorship instructions, issued to the media by government authorities, have been leaked and distributed online. The name of the issuing body has been omitted to protect the source.
Urgent Notice from the Propaganda Department of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection to Internet discussion staff at every level of all departments on the primary websites of People’s Daily, Xinhua, Phoenix, Sina, Tencent, Sohu, NetEase, etc.: with regard to the investigation into Zhou Yongkang, all news, Internet comments, front page commentary, and background articles should closely follow the view of the People's Daily's "Steadily and Strictly Governing the Party" [Chinese]. At the same time, all disciplinary inspection websites and government weibo accounts must forward positive commentary. Prior to 3:00PM today, submit a first-round report on your overall progress including the following figures: number of participants, name of websites posted to, total number of posts, number of weibo forwards along with a brief sample post; number of original web comments published (including a sample headline and the website or forum), and one excellent sample article. We will select an exemplary report.
On the request of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection’s Propaganda Department, these tasks are to be carried out until further notice. Attach great importance to these tasks, and see to it that they are done well. (July 30, 2014)
After months of wait and speculation, a corruption investigation into retired domestic security chief and once China's 9th most powerful man was officially announced yesterday. CDT's earlier roundup of initial coverage shows state media closely following the above propaganda instructions. China Real Time's Te-Ping Chen surveyed newspapers' handling of the news in Wednesday morning's editions:
[…] Most carried simple, near-identical front-page headlines announcing the fact that Mr. Zhou was being investigated due to “discipline violations,” along with a brief sentence from the state-run Xinhua news agency, the Chinese government’s propaganda arm of choice when it chooses to disclose such events in written form. While some chose to display the news in prominent type, many more of the country’s major papers led with other items, such as news about the country’s planned Fourth Plenum, placing news of Mr. Zhou below the fold.
[…] In addition to the brief headlines, other papers carried front-page commentaries penned by Communist Party’s flagship newspaper the People’s Daily, in which the paper declared stressed that “there are no special members within the party.”
“The party is the key to managing China’s affairs well,” the commentary ran, adding that all party members must take discipline seriously, “hate evil like it’s their enemy” and in so doing, make the party “increasingly mature, increasingly powerful and have more and more fighting capacity.” [Source]
Since directives are sometimes communicated orally to journalists and editors, who then leak them online, the wording published here may not be exact. The date given may indicate when the directive was leaked, rather than when it was issued. CDT does its utmost to verify dates and wording, but also takes precautions to protect the source.