For those of you searching for an original digital image of the front page of the Shenzhen edition of Guangzhou’s Southern Metropolis Daily, which included a “hidden-head” message in coverage of Xi Jinping’s newly-announced media policy, we share the image here.

SMD 2.20.2016

While most, if not all, major newspapers on February 20 ran the announcement of President Xi’s visit to media along with a photo of Xi, editors at the Shenzhen edition chose to run instead a photo of the spreading at sea of the ashes of Yuan Geng (袁庚), a key founder of the Shekou Industrial Zone. Yuan died on January 31 at the age of 99.
The headline on the Yuan Geng story read: “A Soul Returns to the Sea.” If read together vertically with the headline directly over it, “Party and Government Media are Propaganda Positions and Must Be Surnamed Party,” the combined message could be understood to mean something like: “Media Are Surnamed Party, Their Souls Return to the Sea.”
The “hidden-head” message would be as follows:

Were the editors trying to suggest that Xi Jinping’s stern treatment of the Chinese media was a death sentence for all semblance of professionalism?
Whatever the case, we have confirmed that one of the editors, Liu Cuixia (刘翠霞), the paper’s headline news editor, has been fired.

David Bandurski

CMP Director

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