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Staff petition Post editor

Thursday, June 21, 2012

About 40 South China Morning Post journalists have signed a petition to editor-in-chief Wang Xiangwei, urging him to uphold freedom of the press amid a self-censorship controversy.

The petition comes after Wang decided to report the death of mainland activist Li Wangyang earlier this month as a brief.

When senior subeditor Alex Price questioned the decision in an e-mail, Wang replied: “If you don’t like it, you know what to do.”

Yesterday, Wang e-mailed all editorial staff about an hour after receiving the petition, saying he did not try to downplay the death.

The petition read: “Freedom of the press is the cornerstone of Hong Kong’s success. But recent events have put our paper’s credibility at stake.”

The journalists said a transparent and open management style is important and they called on Wang to explain why the death of Li was made a brief. He should also address the concern caused to Price by the tone of his original reply.

“We hope that you will assure us … we will continue to enjoy a free working environment,” the petition read.

In his reply to staff, Wang admitted the matter should have been resolved in a more constructive way, and despite “local media insinuation,” the death had been reported extensively in the paper.

“Although I chose not to prioritize coverage on the first day it broke until more facts and details surrounding the circumstances of this case could be established, we subsequently splashed no less than three front pages, two leaders, plus several other prominent positions including two articles by myself,” Wang said.


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