Another blow to free speech in China. The Beijing Propaganda Bureau took control over the Beijing Times and the Beijing News—two of the country’s most influential and outspoken newspapers.
According to a story that ran in The Guardian on Saturday (September 3), Bureau officials announced the takeover at staff meetings at the two news organizations on Friday. Some journalists see the takeover as payback and damage control by Chinese Communist Party officials embarrassed by both the Times’ and News’ critical coverage of the Wenzhou train disaster.
The Times and News had long been a thorn in the side of the Propaganda Bureau—and by extension the ruling regime—often daring to run stories that other media outlets wouldn’t—or couldn’t. Hong Kong-based media analyst Wen Yunchao told the South China Morning Post, (quote) “It’s been a headache for the Beijing propaganda authorities that they didn’t directly control the two newspapers.”
Now that the Beijing Propaganda Bureau does have direct control, media experts expect the content to rapidly change in both papers to align with the Chinese regime’s spin on sensitive topics.