Beijing: A state-run Chinese daily halted its printing midway to stop the publication of an article on the luxurious lifestyle of an official, with its Chief Editor crying foul over official intervention for manipulating the media.
"As a media person, I have never felt so angry and ashamed, furious and humiliated as today after seeing hundreds of thousands of copies of our newspaper altered," Zhou Zhichen, President and Editor of the Yunnan-based `City Times`, said in his blog after his newspaper stopped midway after printing three lakh copies to change the page.
Zhichen termed it as the most shameful incident of intervention of officialdom in manipulating media.
The story which contained the details of expensive watch and belt worn by an influential official was altered with an advertisement.
The article on the director of the Fujian Communication Department Li Dejin said that he wore a watch worth 50,000 yuan (USD 7,930) and a belt worth 13,000 yuan (over USD 2000).
The report instantly sparked wide discussion online as a similar case recently brought down another official in Shaanxi Province.
Terming it as an attempt to "bully media" another state-run daily Global Times said in its editorial that, "Chinese media outlets are constantly frustrated by interference from special interest groups, sometimes even powerful individuals".
"The more influential the outlet is, the more interventions it may suffer. This has put traditional media in a disadvantageous position compared to online media", it said.
"This problem has led to a serious brain drain from traditional media. Understaffed media outlets are finding it more difficult to produce quality investigative reporting, which could be one of the reasons for more intervention from the target. This is a vicious cycle", it added.
"This is no longer a time when information can be blocked or erased. Those who attempt to do so will only find themselves in more trouble. Respecting the media should be the motto of those who hold public power. Trying to manipulate the media will incur a high price", the Global Times editorial said.
The incident reflected the growing trend of many of the journalists exposing the goings-on in their offices using their Twitter-like microblog accounts making it difficult for the officials to subdue the state-media which has shown signs of opening in recent years.