Saturday, May 9, 2009

This Day in 1989: May 9, Young Reporters have their Own Petition

The early days of May, 1989, would later be described as the "low tide" days during the student movement. After the excitements of the earlier waves of demonstrations, students were at a loss of what they should do next. Class strike continued only at Peking University and Beijing Normal University. The Dialogue Delegation was waiting for a response from the government to their request. The newly formed independent student organizations were either engaged in infighting or drifting without a clear agenda. To the students at large, the movement appeared to be over.

It was the young reporters in the official media organizations who took some concrete action on May 9, 1989. After joining the students during the demonstration five days ago, 200 reporters organized themselves and published an open letter of their own. Led by Li Datong of the China Youth Daily, they demanded for press freedom and a reevaluation of the decision to shutdown the Shanghai newspaper World Economics Herald. The petition was eventually signed by over a thousand reporters and editors.

The reporters' action put some signs of life in campuses as well. Students announced that they would launch a bicycle march the next morning to support the reporters, as well as to show the city that they had not given up themselves.

Days of 1989

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