One of the nation’s well-known business magazines yesterday accused the 7-Eleven convenience store chain of boycotting it after it published a story on the company’s management reshuffle last week’s issue.
Kuo Yi-ling (郭弈伶), editor-in-chief of the Chinese-language Business Weekly (商業週刊) issued a letter saying the nation’s largest convenience store chain had decided to stop selling the magazine without any advance warning. She said that magazine did not receive confirmation of the information until 7pm on Wednesday.
“The primary culprit was a 422-word story that was about the management reshuffle at the President Chain Store Corp,” she said, adding it was the first time that the magazine was not sold in 7-Elevens since the publication was founded 25 years ago.
What happened to the magazine was an example of how the chain tries to control its coverage in the news, she said, a sign that it was not just a conflict between a store and a media outlet, but represented a threat to Taiwan’s status of having the freest press in the Chinese-speaking world.
If a publication chooses to be weak in the face of a powerful retailer, the nation’s freedom of the press will be killed in silence, Kuo said.
“It’s a pity that the kind of situation that would happen during the Martial Law era still happens today,” she said. “The role of censor, which used to be played by the Government Information Office, is now taken over by a private chain store owner that has an annual revenue exceeding NT$100 billion [US$3.45 billion].”
The magazine welcomes any comment or request for corrections, she said, adding that it would not shun its responsibility if the parties mentioned in the story decide to sue.
“However, we cannot and will not kowtow to any powerful group if it tries to affect the independence of the news. We must guard the nation’s most precious soil of freedom,” she said.
The chain posted an apology on its Facebook page around noon yesterday.
“Because of the delay in logistics and delivery service last night [Wednesday], we were unable to place Business Weekly on shelves on time,” the company said. “After a quick internal discussion, Business Weekly should be delivered to every store in the afternoon [yesterday.] We apologize to all the 7-Eleven fans for any inconvenience caused by the incident.”
However, the apology has failed to appease netizens. Many of them posted comments saying they did not believe the company’s explanation, given that it was an established corporation with a strong logistics service. Others posted that they would not shop at 7-Eleven anymore.