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

ISBN: 978-0-470-82853-3
256 pages
January 2013
The Party Line: How The Media Dictates Public Opinion in Modern China (0470828536) cover image


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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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Introduction xi

Chapter 1 The Agenda: Telling the Party’s Story 1

Chapter 2 Spreading the Word: The Machinery 25

Chapter 3 Ultranetworked: Caught Up in Connections 45

Chapter 4 Reporters: The Party’s Eyes and Ears 63

Chapter 5 Korea and Tibet: China Finds its Voice 81

Chapter 6 Cultural Revolution: The Ultimate Media Movement 97

Chapter 7 A Nixon Visit, the Death of Mao, and the Road to Reform: A Softer Approach 113

Chapter 8 The Tiananmen Square Divide: The Media Gains, Then Loses, its Voice 131

Chapter 9 Falun Gong: Guerilla Coverage Returns 155

Chapter 10 A Bombing in Belgrade and Anti-Japanese Marches: The Nationalism Card 171

Chapter 11 SARS: Don’t Spoil Our Party 189

Chapter 12 The Beijing Olympics and Sichuan Earthquake: Rallying Points 205

Chapter 13 Google in China: Editorializing 225

Afterword 241

About the Author 245

Index 247

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Author Information

Doug Young is an associate professor in the Journalism Department at China's Fudan University in Shanghai. He has worked in the media for nearly two decades, half of that in China, where he witnessed the massive changes that have taken place in the country since the earliest days of the reform era in the 1980s. Most recently, he worked for Reuters from 2000 to 2010 covering the China story out of the agency's Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Taipei bureaus. Prior to relocating to China, he worked as a journalist in Los Angeles. A native of Washington, DC, he received his bachelor's degree in geology from Yale University and a master's degree in Asian studies from Columbia University. In addition to his current roles as teacher and author, he is a closely followed commentator on the latest Chinese business news and industry trends on his blog, www.youngchinabiz.com.

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The Party Line won Best Book on the Media Industry in Asia - Gold award at the The Asian Publishing Awards 2013 (July 2013)
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Press Release

July 15, 2013
New Addition to Wiley's Political Science Books Offering

Shanghai-based former journalist and China media expert Doug Young provides a fascinating look into the crucial but poorly understood relationship between China’s media and the Communist Party in the new publication of ‘The Party Line: How The Media Dictates Public Opinion in Modern China’.

China’s Communist Party, using the media as its megaphone, is more interested in reporting a version of the truth that it wants its people to believe, in contrast to the media’s more traditional role as public watchdog in Western societies. The Party Line explains how China’s 1.3 billion people share remarkably similar views on a wide array of domestic and global issues ranging from foreign relations, to government corruption and global warming.

The official version of news is formed at the top in organizations like the Xinhua News Agency and China Central Television before being allowed to trickle down to regional and local media. As a result, the average consumer gets strikingly unified messages despite the appearance of many voices in the local media.

The Party Line presents a holistic look at the media to help readers understand how Chinese media operate, and in turn how that influences the view that Chinese people have of their country and the outside world.

The book includes detailed analyses on several major historical events from the 1950-53 Korean War, to the Tiananmen Square crackdown of 1989, and the 2008 Beijing Olympics. In exploring these events, Young provides insight into why the Chinese media reported on those events the way they did, and what their approach said about the Communist Party’s agenda at the time.

“After more than a decade of working as a reporter in China, I find the Chinese media especially fascinating for their remarkable focus and ability to stay on message,” said Young.

Written in a straightforward prose for ordinary readers, The Party Line is the only mainstream English book which offers an unparalleled insight into China’s media industry and how it has changed over time.

The Party Line is now available online and at all leading bookstores. For more information, go to: www.wiley.com/buy/9780470828533.

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