Olympics-Chinese Media Watch: Local journalists report bus explosion

Local Chinese journalists beat central government media to the scene of another bus explosion in the southwestern Chinese city of Kunming. Today’s explosion followed bus bomb blasts that killed two people in Kunming last week. Expect the official Xinhua News Agency to take over from here.

Chinese officials have played down claims of responsibility for the first two bus blasts from a little-known separatist group, the Turkestan Islamic Party. This is a twist on an old story. In recent months, Chinese state media have touted arrests of separatists in its western region of Xinjiang, saying that groups there were plotting to target the Olympics.

But Chinese censors can be fickle about what they want covered, how, and when. Today, the major newspapers all gave big play to the opening of the Olympic Village. Another unexplained explosion in southwest China could be seen as an inconvenient distraction.

The Beijing News was among those giving a splashy headline to the opening of the Village. The paper was back on the stands today after being pulled on Friday for printing a photo by Hong Kong-born photojournalist Liu Xiangcheng of two wounded men being carted from 1989 protests at Tiananmen Square. The Beijing News has gotten into trouble in the past, and CPJ is investigating what the repercussions may be for journalists involved this time around.