The Party Line: How The Media Dictates Public Opinion in Modern China

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9780470828533: The Party Line: How The Media Dictates Public Opinion in Modern China
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The first in-depth, authoritative discussion of the role of the press in China and the way the Chinese government uses the media to shape public opinion

China's 1.3 billion population may make the country the world's largest, but the vast majority of Chinese share remarkably similar views on these and a wide array of other issues, thanks to the unified message they get from tightly controlled state-run media. Official views are formed at the top in organizations like the Xinhua News Agency and China Central Television and allowed to trickle down to regional and local media, giving the appearance of many voices with a single message that is reinforced at every level. As a result, the Chinese are remarkably like-minded on a wide range of issues both domestic and foreign.

  • Takes readers beyond China's economic miracle to show how the nation's massive state-run media complex not only influences public opinion but creates it
  • Explores an array of issues, from Tibet and Taiwan to the environment and US trade relations, as seen through the lens of the Xinhua News Agency
  • Tells the story of the official Xinhua News Agency along with its history and reporting over the years, as the foundation for telling the story

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Praise for THE PARTY LINE

"The Party Line is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the way the media works in China. Young has penned a fascinating account of journalism in the world's most populous country, where reporters are viewed as equal-parts writers and intelligence gatherers and the media continues to play a central, albeit evolving role in conveying the Communist Party's message. Anyone who's ever wondered about the SARS news blackout, the media's role in the Tiananmen Square student movement crackdown or, more recently, Google's pullout from the Chinese market, will gain insight into these topics and more from a Western journalist who spent more than a decade working as a reporter in China."
—Lori Streifler, Editor in Chief, City News Service, Inc.

"Most people assume Chinese media just dutifully tout the party line, since almost all are owned by the state. But as Doug Young explains, the reality is a lot more nuanced. Chinese journalists are in theory the eyes and ears of the Party. Yet with commercial pressure, they also play a cat-and-mouse game with censors to win readers. Young, who is a fluent Mandarin speaker, provides insightful and thought-provoking analysis through dozens of carefully gathered accounts from local journalists. The Party Line is a useful read for anyone who wants to understand the changing roles played by modern Chinese media."
—Wei Gu, Greater China columnist, Reuters Breakingviews

"From Xinhua's part CIA-like role to increasingly intrepid news-gathering in the time of SARS and the Internet, Doug Young's book is an absorbing and comprehensive look at China's unique media landscape."
—Mei Fong, Pulitzer prize–winning former Wall Street Journal China correspondent; adjunct professor, University of Southern California

"At a time of unprecedented diversity and fluidity in China's rapidly evolving media in the Internet age, the struggle over the future of Chinese journalism is one of the great unfolding dramas in that country's epic emergence as a global power. Doug Young draws on more than two decades of experience as a teacher, traveler and foreign correspondent in the region, combined with prodigious archival research in Mandarin, to provide a comprehensive primer on the Chinese Communist Party's decades-old system of control and manipulation of the news—from the Korean War through the Cultural Revolution, and from the Tiananmen protests down to today's increasingly anarchic new media landscape. Informative, insightful and appropriately skeptical of all sides, Young has opened an invaluable window into a formidable monopoly of information which—millions of Chinese are only now beginning to hope—may finally be starting to erode."
—Bill Berkeley, adjunct journalism professor at Columbia University and former New York Times editorial writer

From the Inside Flap:

Japan is a former aggressor that can't be trusted. Tibet historically has always been a part of China. Falun Gong is an evil cult working to dupe the masses . . .

China's 1.3 billion population may make it the world's most populous country, but, thanks to the unified message promulgated by the tightly controlled state-run media, the vast majority of Chinese share a similar belief in these and a wide array of official truths.

In The Party Line, Shanghai-based journalist and China media expert Doug Young pulls back the veil of secrecy surrounding China's media apparatus to provide us with the first in-depth look at how and by whom official views in China are shaped and disseminated, and how they are enforced.

In a thorough feat of investigative journalism, Young takes us beyond the Chinese economic miracle to show how the nation's massive, state-run media complex works and from whom it receives its marching orders. He vividly describes how official organizations like the Xinhua News Agency and China Central Television transform actual world events into prescribed public opinion. And he identifies the channels through which the official news trickles down to regional and local media to create the illusion of many independent voices singing in perfect harmony.

Along the way, Young digs deep into an array of major new stories—from Tibet and the Korean War to the Tiananmen Square student movement and Google's withdrawal from China—as seen through the lens of Xinhua News Agency and other official media. In the process, he sheds new light on the mystery of how it is that the Chinese people are so remarkably uniform in their views on such a wide range of issues, both domestic and foreign.

Young also provides a fascinating historical account of the broader Chinese media and how its reporting has evolved over the years, including how it has adapted to keep pace with the liberalization of China's economy and society and the advent of the Internet and social media.

Offering the first authoritative, in-depth look at the role of the press in China and the way the Chinese government uses its media arm to make up its people's minds, The Party Line is a must-read for anyone with a professional interest in China, including policy analysts, policymakers, and businesspeople with an interest in doing business in China, as well as academics and students of media and current affairs.

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