Reviews

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, former New York Times editorial writer


 

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 of Los Angeles 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 much 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. “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 newsgathering 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

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