Decoding the Chinese media in flux

American correspondents as an interpretive community

Authored by: Yunya Song

Routledge Handbook of Chinese Media

Print publication date:  May  2015
Online publication date:  April  2015

Print ISBN: 9780415520775
eBook ISBN: 9781315758350
Adobe ISBN: 9781317635925


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Given there is no substitute for ‘being there’, the US press corps’ first-hand reporting from China is considered to carry considerable weight with China policy and public opinion in the United States and abroad (Cohen 1983). The spectacle within the reach of the US public is the China reality accepted and recoded by the US press corps. The practice of using local media to inform, interpret, tip-off and explain local developments is a standard operating procedure in foreign news reporting. As the US news bureaus are mostly based in Beijing and Shanghai, American journalists may not be on hand for any event outside major cities in China. On a daily basis they comb the Chinese media for clues, topics or evidence that they use to add to what they know from field experience and to construct their interpretations (Hamilton and Jenner 2004: 301–21). Working under the conditions of authoritarian states, however, foreign correspondents are all the more prone to rely on indigenous media in their work routines (Kester 2010: 51–69).

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