Sackings set the seal on tabloid's termination

PUBLISHED : Friday, 25 March, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 25 March, 2005, 12:00am

The dismissal of the staff of a Wuhan-based newspaper has brought down the curtain on the nation's shortest-lived weekly.

The dismissals at the tabloid Xin Zhou Bao have also revived claims that the paper was a casualty of provincial media paranoia.

The publication was launched in Hubei in October with the aim of being the mainland's top news weekly but its publishers, the Zhiyin Group, suspended publication in December after just seven issues.

The paper's sensational reports on social issues caught the attention of readers and the mainland media. Two of its exposes made the Guangdong-based Neweekly's list of the 10 most-talked-about stories for last year.

One of the articles was headlined: 'Nanjing Normal University female students required to dance with officials'. The other told of the death of a radio hostess in a deputy mayor's bed in Zoucheng , Shandong province .

In December, after the resignation of its president, Feng Xiaoping , and editor-in-chief Zhao Shilong , the paper announced it would be off the newsstands for three weeks for office relocation. It never reappeared.

The staff were finally dismissed on Tuesday, with wages still owed to some. It is not known how many employees were affected.

A source close to senior editorial staff said the closure was due to the Hubei publicity department's intolerance of the outspoken publication and to the Zhiyin Group's reluctance to keep it going.

The source said provincial propaganda officials had told the newspaper's staff their reports had made the officials feel as if they were 'lying on a bed of thorns'.

The Communist Party's central publicity department has denied responsibility for the closure. However, its provincial-level department did not give approval for the paper to resume publication.