Media and Advertising

1956 to 2006: half a century; some progress

ESWN has translayed an essay Qian Gang (钱钢), "one of China's foremost investigative journalists" that compares the situation of media workers in 1956 and 2006. It is cautiously optimistic.

Number 2, Haiyuncang, Dongzhimen Nanxiaojie, Beijing, is the address of China Youth Daily. There is half a century between 1956 and 2006, but two historical events occurred in this same compound.

In the former case, the newspaper's reporter Liu Binyan (刘宾雁) published "On the Bridge Worksite" and "Internal News at our Newspaper" and was then branded a "rightist" one year later. In the latter case, the Freezing Point weekly magazine was suspended for re-organization, and the chief editor Li Datong and the deputy editor Lu Yuegang were both relieved of their duties. Incredibly, in this "historical replay," the person who led the struggle against Liu Binyan during the Cultural Revolution is the Central Propaganda News Critical Reading Group director who wiped out Freezing Point in 2006...

...I must say that 2006 is no longer like those dark years of the past. It isn't.

The cruel officials are still here, but the strongmen are gone. Freezing Point can resume publication, the Freezing Point team can still be said to exist, and Li Datong and Lu Yuegang did not fall into Liu Binyan's condition back then. Of course, this is not exactly great progress. But Chinese media have been undergoing a transformation, and that should not be lost.

At certain international occasions, I have used the three C's to characterize Chinese media today to my friends: Control, Change, Chaos. After the Freezing Point incident, including its nearly absurd outcome, I am even more confident in my assessment.

China needs reforms in the economy, society and politics, for there is no choice. Chinese media today cannot longer be put under the same old rusty ultra-leftist chains that took Liu Binyan down. The three C's are mixed together and it has caused the Chinese media people hardship as well as create space for them to develop. If you only see the harshness and despair in the long list of media that have been shut down, then how can you understand the fact that Li Datong was able to start Freezing Point and continue to develop it for the last ten years already?

Read the whole thing on ESWN: From Binyan to Freezing Point, or the original Chinese essay on Deatils blog

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