I REFER to Fanny Wong's column about media manipulation (South China Morning Post, January 4). To argue her case, Miss Wong assumes that the journalist who swam with the New China News Agency director was rewarded with an exclusive tip on when the official would retire. She also insinuates that in gratitude for the scoop the Chinese newspaper in question obsequiously praised Zhou Nan 'as a very capable diplomat' and gave 'heavy coverage' to the advisers' meeting in Sanya, Hainan. She then expresses her fear about self-censorship, present and future, as well as decries 'the dangerous trend of sloppy journalism creeping into the newsroom'. The last quote conveys my feelings exactly. You see I happen to be the only person who went into the water with Mr Zhou that day and after we swam to about 200 metres offshore we were joined by one and only one reporter from another recently established English language newspaper. The three of us swam together for about three quarters of an hour during which hardly any conversation took place or could have taken place for the wind was brisk and the waves were strong. Mr Zhou simply could not have promised special treatment to anyone under the circumstances - least of all to the Chinese language newspaper journalist who stayed dry. Whether the Chinese newspaper she is referring to practised 'sloppy journalism' or not, I cannot say. I do agree with Miss Wong that the best way to fight manipulation is to demonstrate exemplary press professionalism. I must thank Miss Wong for educating me that other governments also manipulate the media for I would not have known if I had not been told. DAVID YU-LIN CHU Repulse Bay Fanny Wong writes: The main point of my column was to warn of the dangers of self-censorship and media manipulation. To illustrate those dangers I referred to reports (I emphasised their uncertain status) that Mr Zhou had offered a story to whoever went for a swim with him, and I referred to some rather unusual press coverage. Neither Mr Zhou (nor Mr Chu on his behalf) have denied the former, and the latter is a matter of public record. I leave the reader to judge. Mr Chu also asserts something - that the report on Mr Zhou's outstanding diplomatic performance was in gratitude for the scoop the Chinese newspaper had, which he attributes to me, but which did not appear in my article.