More thrills than skills – A half-life in journalism, part 111

Over the next few weeks, is to publish, each weekday, edited extracts from the memoirs of Scottish war correspondent, Paul Harris. ‘More Thrills than Skills: A Half-life in Journalism’, is to be published March 1 next year, by Kennedy & Boyd, Glasgow, and available from

OUR presence was purely to ensure that the paper, which seemed to print between 50,000 and 60,000 copies a day, most of which were given away in hotels and airports, looked as near a Western product as possible – without transgressing the requirements laid down by the local Shanghai government, which ultimately owned and controlled the organ; although I did learn later that the Communist Party of China guaranteed the overdraft so it must have had some say in the show.

The Party line had to be rigorously observed.

As foreigners, we were not allowed to write articles for the paper. Although we put up ideas for content, many were politely accepted but usually they do not see the light of day.

All the foreign experts felt abused by the management, dubbed the Gang of Three.

We were never consulted or even told about developments at the paper. A decision was reached to increase the size of the paper from 12 to 20 pages after a visit by The Party Secretary.

We all turned out and stood by our desks at 8am, about eight hours ahead of schedule to facilitate the visit of the Big Man.

Of course, if we felt abused, it was even worse for the local journalists employed by the paper.