Front Page of the Day

The case of the missing Obama front page

Southern Weekly
November 19, 2009

The Southern Weekly, one of China's more aggressively investigative newspapers, was the only print media outlet to get an interview with Obama. Central government controlled Xinhua and CCTV did not get one-on-one interviews with the American president.

The interview was published in this week's issue which came out today.

You can read a translation into English of the interview on Daily Telegraph Shanghai correspondent Malcolm's Moore's blog.

This afternoon, several journalists and news assistants at foreign media organizations reported on Twitter that their copies of the paper arrived today without the front page, on the back of which was the Obama interview. As Malcolm Moore points out, the interview "appears to have been carefully checked by the Propaganda ministry. Nothing controversial was published."

So who removed the front pages from the news bureaux' subscription copies, and why?

Who knows, but well-known Chinese journalist and blogger Michael Anti noted "Media, if you wanna understand complexity of Southern Weekend's Obama interview, pls translate this tweet"

Obama interview

Rendered into English (with some help from Anti), the tweet in question by shifeike is:

Analysis of the results of Southern Weekly's intimate contact with Obama: The Central Publicity (neé Propaganda) Department is furious, state media is jealous, Southern Weekly is wild with joy, the Guangdong Party secretary is nervous, Southern Weekly editor Xiang Xi cried hard to get a new big chance, [former editor of Caijing Hu] Shuli is depressed. 

The front page is also notable for the large in-house advertisement at the bottom that reads:

"It's not every issue we have an exclusive interview, but you can come here every week to understand China".

Update: The Wall Street Journal's Jason Dean has more about the missing front page.

Update (2009.11.20): Obama wrote a short note to the newspaper:

To the Southern Weekly and its readers ——

I look forward to continuing the ties between our two countries, and congratulate you for contributing to the analysis and flow of vital policy information. An educated citizenry is the key to an effective government, and a free press contributes to that well-informed citizenry.

Was it intended to be printed alongside the interview, in one of the spots occupied by a bottom-page ad? (JM)

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There are currently 8 Comments for The case of the missing Obama front page.

Comments on The case of the missing Obama front page

I guess the translation of the advertisement at the bottom should be:

"Not everyone has the chance to be someone important, but from here China can be better understood."


The front page is also notable for the large in-house advertisement at the bottom that reads:

"It's not every issue we have an exclusive interview, but you can come here every week to understand China".

I think the first sentence meant otherwise:

"Not everyone can become someone,
but everyone can read here to understand china"

TheChinaTimes and heartofkafka, the ad you are referring to is on the second page of the paper, underneath the Obama interview.

The front page ad that I translated and which you can see on the uppermost image of this post, reads:


Maybe you should read WSJ's post on this: link

"But the Southern Weekend affair is no clear-cut case of censorship. For starters, many subscribers in Beijing did receive the full edition of the paper, interview included, and unexpurgated versions of the paper were also easily available at news stands. It would make little sense for censors to try to keep foreign journalists from seeing the article while leaving it easily accessible for Chinese readers."

"An official in the post office that distributes newspapers to the media outlets that received incomplete copied of Thursday’s Southern Weekend said the explanation was simple: The papers had arrived in the morning without their front pages, which came later in the day. She said this is a common problem with big news days. An official in the distribution department of Southern Weekend confirmed that the paper indeed had blown its production deadlines for the Thursday edition and delivered the front page late."

A written instruction by a government officer to emphasize Propaganda Ministry's prohibition of repasting this interview: link

a related pic: link

Why did Barack Obama grant an exclusive interview to Southern Weekend? It's obvious. He wanted to send a cool message to his half brother Mark who happens to live in Shenzhen, Guangdong. Isn't SW based out of Guangdong? China, it's time to bribe Mark Obama. I thought it's Chinese culture to bribe family members.

That blank page is just the subscription ad for this newspaper, why people are so imaginative?

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