Target: Tuo Zhen, Guangdong’s Propaganda Chief
Goal: Condemn Tuo Zhen for altering an article for his propagandist agenda.
Media censorship in China is nothing new; however, this week a line was crossed when the Central Propaganda Department in Beijing tried to cover up Tuo Zhen’s, Guangdong’s Propaganda Chief’s, propagandist attempt to manipulate a media story. A New Year’s message that was meant to be published in a popular newspaper, Southern Weekly, was altered by Zhen after already having been signed off on by top editors at the paper. Zhen completely altered the message, changing its intentions and adding factual errors. Other changes were made to the New Year’s edition of the paper as well, including deleting articles about anti-Japanese protests.
The article in question lead to investigations, as its very message was changed in order to promote Zhen’s communist agenda. The original version called for a reform towards democracy and constitutionalism in China and was meant to be a message of hope while pushing for change. Zhen’s edits, however, skewed this message into an article complimenting the Communist Party and omitting any message of equality.
These changes resulted in outrage from the journalist community despite censors’ attempt to keep the incident under wraps. The Central Propaganda Department proceeded in an attempt to contain any spreading of this news to avoid controversy, and many of the infuriated journalists’ complaints that had been published online were deleted. This action of censorship only lead to further outrage and the demand from many former employees of Southern Weekly for Zhen’s resignation.
Beijing’s acts of censorship should be condemned, as should Zhen’s actions. He butchered the message of a pro-reform paper without the knowledge of its editorial staff in order to serve his own political agenda as a member of the Guangdong Communist Party Standing Committee. He used his influence to spread a message that conflicted with the newspaper’s ideals, and the government helped him by attempting a cover up of his transgressions.
By signing this petition you are supporting the journalists in their condemnation of Tuo Zhen for his unethical manipulation of the media.
Dear Mr. Zhen,
I am writing in order to condemn you for your actions regarding Southern Weekly’s New Year’s edition and your unethical changes made to this paper. What gives you the right to go behind editors’ backs in order to promote your propaganda? The article was meant to provide a message of hope and change, and you clearly misinterpreted your audience in changing the message towards one of praise for the Communist Party. You have tainted the art of journalism and the trust of readers everywhere. You butchered an article and manipulated the media for your own selfish purposes and must not be allowed to get away with it.
Clearly your role as Propaganda Chief has given you the impression that crossing editorial boundaries is an acceptable form of political promotion and that cannot be the case. You have led the government into a conspiratorial cover up for your actions, which has led to further censorship in China. I am joining all of the journalists that have called for your resignation and demand that you step down from your position. You have done a disservice to the media world everywhere.
[Your Name Here]
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