Clear It With Sidney

Notes on journalism for the common good, by Lindsay Beyerstein

Chinese Journo Strike!

They’re mad as hell and they’re not going to take it anymore. Reporters at Southern Weekend, a relatively liberal paper in Guangzhou, are on strike against excessive censorship by their provincial government.

On Monday, hundreds of people turned out to support the strikers at the newspaper’s headquarters and celebrities are championing the journalists’ cause online:

“Hoping for a spring in this harsh winter,” Li Bingbing, an actress, said to her 19 million followers on a microblog account. Yao Chen, an actress with more than 31 million followers, cited a quotation by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, the Russian Nobel laureate and dissident: “One word of truth outweighs the whole world.”

Many of the people who showed up Monday at the newspaper offices in Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong Province, carried banners with slogans and white and yellow chrysanthemums, a flower that symbolizes mourning. One banner read: “Get rid of censorship. The Chinese people want freedom.” Police officers watched the protesters without immediately taking any harsh actions. [NYT]

Some political analysts see the strike as a test of the Chinese central government’s commitment to press freedom. If the new party cheif, Xi Jinping, sides with the reporters, that could be a sign that he’s prepared to loosen state controls on media.

[Photo credit: White and yellow chrysanthemums, like the blossoms carried by the strike supporters to symbolize mourning for press freedom. NTLam, Creative Commons.]