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Tentative deal reached in censorship flap

Jan. 9, 2013 at 9:44 AM

GUANGZHOU, China, Jan. 9 (UPI) -- A deal in a censorship dispute was reached between leaders of China's Communist Party and the staff at a popular publication, officials said Wednesday.

One journalist working for the Guangzhou publication at the center of the dispute, said reporters were told the newspaper would publish as usual Thursday, The New York Times reported.

Journalists at Southern Weekend, one of China's most audacious and popular publications, threatened to strike over a New Year's editorial on political reform that was censored and rewritten by a local propaganda official.

While the exact terms of the compromise weren't released, indications were that journalists agreed not to publicly voice their grievances about Tuo Zhen, the propaganda chief for Guangdong province, whom they accused of censorship, the Los Angeles Times reported.

"The paper is coming out tomorrow, and the propaganda department is going to hold a meeting with staff about this tomorrow," a journalist told the Times.

Other reporters said details of the agreement remained were sketchy and that it may collapse.

The Los Angeles Times said the editor of the Beijing News reportedly resigned Wednesday after refusing to run an editorial condemning the protest at Southern Weekly and editors at other news organizations may be removed from their posts because of the issue.

Protesters gathered again Wednesday outside of the newspaper's headquarters in Guangzhou.

As celebrities and business leaders supported press freedoms online, senior propaganda officials in Beijing this week began rolling out a national strategy to rake rebel journalists and their supporters over the coals, The New York Times said. The Central Propaganda Department issued a directive to news organizations saying defiance at Southern Weekend involved "hostile foreign forces."

The New York Times reported the order, translated by China Digital Times, a research group at the University of California-Berkeley that studies Chinese news media, said Chinese journalists must end their support of Southern Weekend and "party control of the media is an unwavering basic principle."

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