Veteran journalist recounts birth of Shenzhen's first newspaper

Writer: Wang Jingli  |  Editor: Jane Chen  |  From: Shenzhen Daily  |  Updated: 2020-09-04

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone. To mark the occasion, we are publishing a series of reports celebrating the city's achievements in different aspects over the past four decades.

The city's first trial newspaper, Shenzhen Special Zone Daily, was published June 6, 1981, nearly seven months after the Shenzhen Municipal Publicity Department was permitted by the city government to run a newspaper.

A recorded working note kept by Qiu Panlian, former deputy editor-in-chief of Shenzhen Special Zone Daily suggested that Li Weiyan, then director of the municipal publicity department, presided over a meeting April 3, 1981 to urge the publication of a newspaper and arrange related works, Shenzhen Special Zone Daily reported.

With some effort, the municipal publicity department received 3,000 yuan (US$434) to cover expenses on colleagues' transportation, meals and stationery.

At that time, the office in charge of the newspaper publication only had eight to nine staff in total, Qiu said.

The office was located in a wooden structure next to the current Caiwuwei area in Luohu District, with a few tables and wooden benches. It only covered 10 square meters.

Negative voices such as "there is no significance to publish a newspaper in the special economic zone," or "how much news would take place on this small piece of land," were heard at that time, the report said.

The lack of money made it impossible to pursue printing equipment.

As a result, the first issues of Shenzhen Special Zone Daily from June 6, 1981 to Dec. 1, 1983 were printed by Wen Wei Po in Hong Kong.

Wen Wei Po provided an office on the 11th floor of their building for staff with Shenzhen Special Zone Daily to handle the printing.

Qin Esheng, a well-known Chinese calligrapher, was invited to write the newspaper's name.

At that time, every Chinese newspaper's name was normally printed in black. However, Shenzhen Special Zone Daily decided to use red ink since it was the first trial publication.

The paper also took the vertical style of publication and used traditional Chinese characters for the convenience of readers in Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan until May 1, 1986 when the newspaper changed to use simplified Chinese and Jan. 1, 1987 when the contents were arranged in horizontal.

Advertisements were made available on front page since the first publication, which was not seen before on any Party paper.

It is also the country's first newspaper to open a special column for properties.

After five trial publications of the paper, Shenzhen Special Zone Daily officially started its publication May 24, 1982.

The office was then moved to the 11th building at the dormitory compound of the Shenzhen Municipal Committee of the CPC.

One year later, the newspaper eventually had its own building.