Zhang Dongming, a former official of the propaganda department in Guangdong province, has been appointed editor-in-chief of Southern Weekend and deputy editor of the Nanfang Daily Group that publishes it. The move is said to have upset journalists because of Zhang's personal role in ensuring that the spread of Sars was first not reported and then said to be under control. However, the move was probably planned long before the World Health Organization criticised China for its delay in reporting the outbreak after it was detected in Guangdong.
The newspapers of the group are characterised by their bold and liberal reporting. One of them, 21st Century Herald, was closed in March after carrying an interview with Li Rui, a former advisor to Mao Zedong, who said the country's leaders were violating the constitution by refusing to submit to democratic rule.