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.
Do not report on Macau Liaison Office head Zheng Xiaosong’s death after falling from a building while suffering from depression. (October 20, 2018) [Chinese]
Zheng’s mysterious death occurred on October 20. The news was not blacked out entirely: official statements and a brief announcement from the state news agency Xinhua were reposted in place of independent reporting, and some blog commentary also appeared.
Radio Free Asia reported last week on a similar case involving a former editor-in-chief of People’s Daily:
A former editor-in-chief of ruling Chinese Communist Party newspaper the People’s Daily has died in an apparent suicide after falling 19 floors from the paper’s headquarters.
[…] Journalists were unable to contact her family, and government censors had banned photographs taken at the scene of Hu’s death, the source said.
A journalist surnamed Zheng with a state media organization told RFA that Hu was a well-known figure in the party’s tightly controlled official media and propaganda system, where many people suffer mental strain from having to repeat the party line rather than reporting on the issues of the day.
[…] “Depression is very common in the media, because the amount of fakery we have to write gets to us psychologically,” she said. “Maybe she felt that she was still a person of conscience. Who knows? It’s complicated.” [Source]
Since directives are sometimes communicated orally to journalists and editors, who then leak them online, the wording published here may not be exact. Some instructions are issued by local authorities or to specific sectors, and may not apply universally across China. 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. See CDT’s collection of Directives from the Ministry of Truth