Two senior executives of a major Shanghai newspaper were removed or suspended yesterday, sources said, a day after a newspaper in Guangdong saw its editor-in-chief removed and a considerable amount of coverage cut.
Lu Yan, publisher of the Oriental Morning Post, was transferred to head another division of the Shanghai-based Wenxin United Press Group that owns the paper, and deputy editor-in-chief Sun Jian was suspended, according to two sources at the newspaper who declined to be named.
On Monday, Guangdong's New Express announced that its chief editor, Lu Fumin, had been removed from his post to head the political section of a sister newspaper, while its national and international coverage was slashed and its op-ed page eliminated.
A separate veteran Shanghai-based journalist said that municipal party secretary Yu Zhengsheng was unhappy with the newspaper's stories. 'Yu has criticised some of the newspaper's reports in recent months, so the paper had to do something about it,' he said.
Sources with the paper said top Shanghai party officials had ordered the city's publicity department to tighten control over the paper. They said Lu's departure was the result of a series of perceived radical reports, including one about reform-minded liberal economist Mao Yushi.
They also said that Sun was suspended because he posted a picture of the cover of a book, Conversations with Chen Xitong, on his microblog. The book, published earlier this year outside the mainland, features interviews with the purged former Beijing mayor Chen Xitong, including his role in the crackdown on the 1989 pro-democracy movement in Tiananmen Square.
The veteran journalist in Shanghai said the paper's management announced the news to its employees yesterday. Online discussions in media circles said management had asked staff not to talk to outsiders about the reshuffle.
The veteran journalist said: 'The news [of the moves] will make media in Shanghai more conservative and cautious in future reporting.'
Professor Zhan Jiang, who teaches journalism at Beijing Foreign Studies University, said: 'Any topics or reports that might draw excessive attention or cause trouble are not tolerated by the authorities. Stability is everything.'
Shanghai party boss Yu has been widely regarded as a front runner to enter the party's top echelons at its national congress in the autumn.
However, the veteran Shanghai journalist said the reshuffles at the Shanghai and Guangdong papers may not be related to the party congress.
The Oriental Morning Post is the most outspoken newspaper in Shanghai. On May 13, 2008, the day after the earthquake in Wenchuan, Sichuan, it printed '8,533 dead' in bold on a black cover.
Additional reporting by Staff Reporter
The number of newspapers sold on the mainland last year
- 45.21 billion copies were sold in the previous year