Yang Bin, the editor-in-chief of the Beijing News — a tabloid that has often reported on official missteps and misdeeds — was removed on Wednesday, Chinese journalists and media experts said.
Actually, in addition to editor-in-chief Yang Bin, two deputy-editors, Sun Xuedong and Li Duoyu have also been removed. Why did this happen? Feisty, daring and critical newspaper reports on things that the government doesn’t want us to hear about, such as the Hebei land rights’ incident where six villagers were killed by government hired thugs. Senior government officials unhappy about this, set about replacing the pesty troublemakers. Sound familiar to you China media watchers? It’s the same ol’ story, same ol’ song and dance …
The Beijing News (新京报）was a joint venture between the Nanfang group of Southern Weekend (南方周末）and Southern Metropolis （南方都市报）fame, known for more enterprising, hard-hitting and muckracking type journalism, and the Guangming Daily Group, known for its more conservative leanings. The Guangming Group is now attempting to push out the Nanfang Group and take complete managerial and editorial control of the paper.
However, the staff of the paper has decided not to take this lying down. About 100 of the newspaper’s staff are on strike.
Of course, a lot of the good information on this issue is being covered in the blogosphere. ESWN has links to a number of Western news sources here, and Non-violent Resistance has a couple of pertinent posts here. He also mentions the fact that Chinese blogger Mr. Anti, who had run a number of posts on this issue and called for a boycott of the newspaper (he’d already subscribed for the year of 2006 but wanted to cancel it and get a refund), has had both his Chinese MSN spaces blog as well as his English blog nuked. We thought this was just within in China, but we’ve had confirmation now that even in the US, the result is the same. We guess Anti doesn’t matter much to one of the persons of the year.
Two final notes: go to the Guangming Group page (link above) and take a look at the title of the webpage. It says 知识分子的网上家, which means “The intellectuals’ home on the internet”. We guess that could be true if “intellectuals” are defined as knowledge workers that don’t give a shit about press freedom and freedom of thought in general. Secondly, before Anti was forced to “sign out”, he left a couple of angry posts about this issue that Shanghaiist copied down. Here’s our favorite one: 说实话，我宁愿去吃屎我也不要订什么《光明日报》和它的什么变种. Translation: Truth be told, I would rather eat shit than subscribe to Guangming Daily or any of its ilk.
Picture from China Digital Times.