The media yesterday questioned the motivation behind a Guilin party-controlled newspaper's open apology to the city's tour guides for accusations last week that they ripped off visitors.
The general news editor and a reporter from the Guilin Daily apologised on Sunday after about 600 tour guides protested for several days outside the municipal government building. They were responding to reports that guides cheated visitors and took excessive kickbacks from shops and hotels.
The duo apologised for 'improper reports that caused some bad effects on society'. The newspaper followed up yesterday with more than 10 articles praising the contributions of travel agencies and guides to the city's booming tourism industry.
But the apology prompted speculation yesterday in many mainland media outlets, including Guangdong's Southern Metropolis News, New Express, and even People's Daily's website about the 'real' reasons for the contrition.
'The reputation of the [mainland] media has been harmed by fake news stories such as the 'cardboard-stuffed steamed buns',' Southern Metropolis News commentator Liu Hongbo wrote. 'If the reporter was objectively exposing illegal activities in the tourism industry, I don't think there was anything improper in the report.'
'Why didn't the Guilin Daily tell readers the details of the 'improper places' in the [original] report?' a People's Daily commentary asked. 'We don't think their apology will really solve the problem.'
A news editor from the paper said it was not convenient to comment on the issue. Municipal officials blamed the newspaper for the protests, but internet postings suggested officials had pressured the newspaper to apologise, making it a scapegoat.