The heat continues to be on SCMP’s new editor-in-chief Wang Xiangwei.
23 former journalists with the South China Morning Post have written an open letter addressed to the paper’s group executive director, Hui Kuok (also the daughter of Malaysian tycoon Robert Kuok who now owns a controlling interest in the paper). In the letter, they expressed concern over the decision by new editor-in-chief Wang Xiangwei to reduce a major breaking story on the suspicious death of Tiananmen dissident Li Wangyang to a brief:
Excerpt from the letter via Asia Sentinel which has been closely following the saga:
“The latest dispute over the curtailed coverage of the Li Wangyang story has angered a great many of the Post’s traditional readers and supporters,” the former Post journalists said in the letter. “It suggests that the charges of the paper’s critics are justified. We understand that news judgments have to be made in haste and occasional errors are to be expected. “Some of the explanations for the Li Wangwang decision suggest, though, that a change in policy has taken place. The idea that the story needed to be downplayed because it had received little or no coverage on CCTV is unworthy of the Post’s traditions as an independent and enterprising newspaper. CCTV no doubt has a role as a source of information. If used as an indicator of news values it is a source of ignorance.
“We are distressed to hear that a senior editor who asked about the decision was told that “if you don’t like it you know what to do”. We would like to believe that this was a careless piece of phraseology penned in a moment of excitement but it sounds suspiciously as if staff are no longer expected to understand or support the newspaper’s policy, merely to follow instructions.
“We are concerned by all this not only because we were once happy and proud to work for the Post, and do not like to see its reputation deteriorate, but also because the newspaper has historically been an important civic resource for the people of Hong Kong. It will be a serious public loss if the newspaper continues to go downhill.
“The constant changes in the editorship of the Post suggest that either the owners do not know what they want, or they want something that no credible senior journalists will provide. We urge you to protect and cherish the South China Morning Post’s traditions of independence, truthfulness and service to its readers.
“We urge you to ensure that stories are evaluated on the basis of their interest to Hong Kong readers. We urge you to ensure that Post journalists are able to work according to an explicit and understood editorial policy. We urge you to encourage the newspaper’s management to give civil answers to civil questions. We hope that our connections with the Post will continue to be a source of pride, in its continuing commitment to independence, accuracy and public service.”
For more on the Wang Xiangwei saga, click here.