Sunday, 24 April 2016

Blank Protest Full with Meaning

Ming Pao ran a picture of ginger, alluding to Keung Kwok-yuen
We appreciate that three Ming Pao columnists protested against the sacking of executive editor Keung Kwok-yuen earlier this week by submitting blank column spaces that ran.

In today's Life section, the paper ran empty spots by Audrey Eu Yuet-mee, founding leader of the Civic Party, and Eva Chan Sik-chee, a former Ming Pao journalist, with just headlines criticizing the decision to fire Keung on Wednesday.

Ng Chi-sum, a veteran media personality, also left his column blank, save for a line to explain his headline. It was quoted from a poem written by demonstrators of the 1976 Tiananmen Incident in protesting the removal of displays of mourning following Premier Zhou Enlai's death.

Today's blank spaces where columns should have ran
The line reads: "In my grief I hear demons shriek; I weep while wolves and jackals laugh."

The Ming Pao Staff Association reports that chief editor Chong Tien Siong had tried to stop running the blank columns.

In the association's Facebook post, it said Chong, who had been on leave, suddenly returned to work Saturday night and did not want to feature the blank columns, but this was already an hour after the pages had been typeset.

After discussions, the blank columns were kept, but an editor's note was included, reiterating the paper's decision to sack Keung was for cost-cutting purposes, and that the paper's editorial stance had not changed.

Because of this additional note, the pages had to be reprinted.

Blank pages in 2014 protested against Kevin Lau's dismissal
The association says it was very "angry" and "disappointed" with Chong's alleged attempt to obstruct freedom of expression, adding his decision to stop the printing process resulted in economic losses for Ming Pao.

The front page of the paper also featured a large piece of ginger, alluding to Keung, as his name in Cantonese is similar to the word ginger.

This is not the first time Ming Pao has run columns blank in protest.

When Chong replaced former chief editor Kevin Lau Chun-to in 2014, several writers, including Chan and Ng protested with empty spaces where their columns should have been.

It sounds like troubling times at Ming Pao have just escalated several notches -- a war between the chief editor and its staff are not a good thing. In the end, who will prevail?

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