Southern Weekly, also referred to as Southern Weekend (Chinese: 南方周末/南方週末; Pinyin:Nánfāng Zhōumò), is a weekly newspaper based in Guangzhou, China, and is a sister publication of the newspaper Southern Daily (Chinese:南方日报/南方日報).
Southern Weekly, founded in 1984, has its head office is in Guangzhou, with news bureaux in Beijing, Shanghai and Chengdu. The paper is published by the Nanfang Daily group under the Guangdong Communist Party Committee. It is printed simultaneously in many Chinese cities, and distributed to the whole of the Chinese mainland.
Southern Weekly currently operates upon 8 key sections: News, Defense, Current Political Situation, Economy, Environment, Culture, Supplement, and Comment, together with an editorial guideline of “Justice, Conscience, Love, Rationality”.
Circulation is more than 1.6 million copies, on average, which is said to be the biggest weekly circulation of any newspaper on the Chinese mainland. Thus it is considered as one of the most influential media outlets in China. However, as of 2007 it had the highest circulation in Beijing.
Southern Weekly is considered the most outspoken newspaper in China. It is strongly recommended by liberal intellectuals and is said to contribute to public democratic debate and the formation of civil society. The New York Times has described the Southern Weekend as "China's most influential liberal newspaper".
When U.S. President Obama visited China in 2009, he refused to have as interview with CCTV, but instead accepted to talk to Southern Weekly. However, the report later turned out to be pale and avoided controversial topics, which was interpreted as the result of authorities' pressure.
Naturally however, as a spin-off of provincial official newspaper in mainland China, Southern Weekly still relies on political support from Guangdong Provincial Party Committee of the China Communist Party. Its coverage on regional corruption outside Guangdong province will not be achieved without local leaders' support behind. As such, Southern Weekly could only go so far as to disclose political issues that are refined to regional range lower than provincial level, and reporting penetrates anything behind the scenes regarding to central party or the provincial Party committee is strictly prohibitive.
Meanwhile, being a commercial spin-off of Nanfang Daily in Guangdong Province, Southern Weekly also attracts audiences with entertainment, consumer-oriented lifestyle and sports coverage. In the "China's 500 most valuable brands" released by World Brand Laboratory in 2009, Southern Weekly was ranked as the first position in weekly publications by 4.4 billion RMB of brand value.
In one of the many incidents of the paper running up against the authorities, in January 2013, the provincial propaganda authorities forced Southern Weekly to run a provided commentary glorifying the Chinese Communist Party in place of the paper's annual new year editorial, which had been a call for proper implementation of the country's constitution. Journalists on the paper publicly objected to this interference – which is an unusual occurrence in China – via Sina Weibo. The censorship order was believed to have come from provincial propaganda chief Tuo Zhen, a former vice-president of state-run Xinhua.
On 7 January 2013, protesters gathered outside the newspaper's headquarters to support journalists on strike due to censorship.
2001 Liao Yiwu, the author of The Corpse Walker: Real Life Stories: China From the Bottom Up, a book banned in China which published conversations with China's poorest people, told Voice of America that Southern Weekly's editor-in-chief, deputy-editor-in-chief and director of the newsroom were all sacked for publishing a discussion he had about his book.
2002 Southern Weekly disclosed that a Project Hope leader embezzled large amounts of public funds. Hundreds of thousands of the newspapers were retrieved. The journalist who wrote this article, Fang Jinyu, was fired.
2005 Reportedly a large number of journalists quit their jobs to voice anger against the newly elected editor-in-chief, but later the Southern media group published a statement that said this was false information.
2007 In a national gathering that Southern Weekly held in Beijing Bayi Theater, Du Daozheng, the editor of a magazine called Yan Huang Chun Qiu, was awarded the most respectable Chinese media, but a central government propaganda office official called and ordered the award to be canceled. All related shots of the ceremony were also deleted.
2013 the provincial propaganda authorities forced Southern Weekly to run a provided commentary glorifying the Chinese Communist Party in place of the paper's annual new year editorial, which had been a call for proper implementation of the country's constitution. Journalists on the paper publicly objected to this interference – which is an unusual occurrence in China – via Sina Weibo. The censorship order was believed to have come from provincial propaganda chief Tuo Zhen, a former vice-president of state-run Xinhua.