Chinese Reporters Walk Out
Reporters at a newspaper known for covering sensitive topics walked off the job after their editor was removed this week amid efforts to tighten press controls, employees said Friday.
The informal strike at the Beijing News was highly unusual for China’s entirely state-controlled media. It reflected tensions between communist leaders and media outlets, which have pushed the limits of official tolerance in recent years, sometimes drawing punishment for aggressive reporting on corruption and other politically sensitive issues.
Reporters stopped filing articles Thursday after the removal of editor Yang Bin, employees contacted by phone said. On Friday, the tabloid was 32 pages, compared with more than 80 on a typical day.
“Most of the 400 reporters and editors are unhappy about Yang Bin leaving,” said a reporter who asked not to be identified. “We don’t know how many high-level officials might leave their post.”
It wasn’t clear how many reporters took part in the protest or how long it might last.
Employees said they didn’t know why Yang was removed. But the Beijing News is audacious even by the standards of a new wave of Chinese newspapers that compete for readers with stories on scandals and other previously forbidden topics.
A spokesman for the Beijing News denied that there was any protest.
“Everything here is normal,” said the spokesman, who would give only his surname, Luo.
Chinese media have been given limited autonomy in an effort to reduce their need for subsidies by letting them compete commercially. Editors are expected to work within censorship guidelines on specific stories, but are free to make their own decisions on other matters.
But the government has recently forced the removal of respected editors who angered officials by reporting on graft and other issues.