Reporting for China

How Chinese Correspondents Work with the World

Pál Nyíri

  • Published: April 2017
  • Subject Listing: Asian Studies / China; Anthropology; Film and Media Studies
  • Bibliographic information: 216 pp., 6 x 9 in.
  • Territorial rights: World Rights
  • Contents

While Western media are shrinking their foreign correspondent networks, Chinese media, for the first time in history, are rapidly expanding worldwide. The Chinese government is financing most of this growth, hoping to strengthen its influence and improve its public image. But do these reporters willingly serve formulated agendas or do they follow their own interests? And are they changing Chinese citizens' views of the world?

Based on interviews and informal conversations with over seventy current and former correspondents, Reporting for China documents a diverse group of professionals who hold political views from nationalist to liberal, but are constrained in their ability to report on the world by China's media control, audience tastes, and the declining market for traditional media.
Pál Nyíri is professor of global history from an anthropological perspective at Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam. He is the author of Scenic Spots: Chinese Tourism, the State, and Cultural Authority; coauthor of Seeing Culture Everywhere: From Genocide to Consumer Habits; and coeditor of Chinese Encounters in Southeast Asia: How People, Money, and Ideas from China Are Changing a Region.

"I know of no other work that so fully discusses the expansion of Chinese media into reporting on foreign affairs of the world. Nyíri is in an excellent position to take on this intricate topic, with a wide overview of the specific media field in question, as well as of relevant issues of general interest."
-Ulf Hannerz, author of Foreign News: Exploring the World of Foreign Correspondents

"A fascinating book. The extensive interviews reveal an important aspect of Chinese society. . . . There is no comparable book on the market."
-Anne-Marie Brady, author of Marketing Dictatorship: Propaganda and Thought Work in Contemporary China

"China's mammoth state propaganda machine has long been preoccupied with framing the 'worldview' of its nationals, to reinforce the legitimacy of the Communist Party's rule. But the propaganda process has remained a mystery to most. Nyiri's nuanced anthropological study of Chinese foreign correspondents provides a rare in-depth look into the fuzzy engineering of the Chinese mind and is therefore crucial to a true understanding of a China on the way to become a global superpower."
-Chan Koonchung, author of The Fat Years and The Unbearable Dreamworld of Champa the Driver

Introduction: China and the World
1. The Worldwide Expansion of China's Media
2. How Stories are Made
3. How Correspondents Work
4. Finding the "China Peg"
Epilogue: Cosmopolitan Professionals in the Service of the Nation

"Reporting for China is a fascinating and imaginatively conceived study of Chinese correspondents who work abroad. . . . Readers beleaguered by recent US sparring over fake news and alternative facts will find in this study a refreshingly concrete exploration of the tension, unblinkingly relayed by Nyíri. . . . The book offers, in a very accessible style, a nuanced and vivid account of a domain that has long been subject to overly facile assumptions about what freedom of speech actually entails and how it comes to be curtailed."
-Louisa Schein, American Ethnologist

"As the pioneering work in this field, Nyiri's vibrant and important book opens up a lot of new questions about China's global media expansion and soft power attempts. It spearheads an exciting new direction in the analysis of Chinese media and cultural studies."
-Maria Repnikova, China Review International: A Journal of Reviews of Scholarly Literature in Chinese Studies

"The first extensive, systematic study of Chinese journalists who work as foreign correspondents for Chinese audiences. . . . A must-read for those interested in the machinations of Chinese politics and the Chinese state. . . . A fine example of how anthropologists study the media . . . valuable not just for anthropologists but also for scholars and students in the fields of media, communications, and journalism."
-Wanning Sun, The China Journal