BUILDING THE NATION-STATE: Journalism and Communication Studies in China

Hu Zhengrong, Ji Deqiang, and Zhang Lei
In 1918, young Mao Zedong left his home in the province of Hunan for the first
time, and went to Beijing to look for new paths for his life. He got a job at the library of Peking University, and stayed there for six months. During that period,he attended a recently founded research group in Peking University, which was called Association of Journalism Study.There is no paperwork documenting that he engaged actively in this research group, or made significant contributions to or benefited greatly from it. In fact, his Hunan accent prevented him from get-ting in the scholarly circles in Beijing and this brought him great frustration.This frustration was a part of the frustration that led him to return to Hunan in 1919.
After going back to Hunan, he created Xiang Jiang Review and other newspapers to criticize the government and call for a revolution. He devoted himself to the press to achieve his political ideals before he got political and military power, just like his Communist predecessors: Karl Marx, Frederic Engels and Lenin.

The Chinese press has a long-established tradition as part of the revolution
during the 19th and 20th centuries in China. As Professor Lee Chin-Chuan
(2008: 1) noted, “In the past century, the main role of Chinese press is to save
the country from subjugation. Its trilogy is enlightenment, revolution and pursu-
ing modernization.” Consequently, the study of the Chinese press could not be
fully understood without an examination on its role in the building of modern
To understand the contemporary history of media and communication stud-
ies in China, both a horizontal structural and a vertical historical perspective
are necessary and mutually complementary.The horizontal perspective asks for a
historical examination of the continuity and discontinuity of the relative schol-
arly efforts, while the vertical perspective demands a comparative analysis that
puts Chinese communication studies in the context of geopolitics. Rather than
starting from the reflection of a media-centric scholarship, this chapter is intended
to embed previous studies—including journalism and others—in a broader social
circumstance, in which the changing political-economic structure and cultural
politics characterize the changing nature of China over the past 100 years. In
this century-long history, journalism studies and communication studies were
inseparable in China. This linkage between journalism studies and communica-
tion studies derives not only from the similarities they share in their research
objectives, like mass media, but also from the group of scholars, especially those
in post-1978 China, who were trained in journalism but soon moved to the new
arena of communication studies.
Before 1918: Wars, Enlightenment and the Transformation of China Although the embryonic forms of newspaper in China can be traced back to Di Bao and Xiao Bao in the ancient dynasties, the modern press did not come into being until the European missionaries began to publish in Chinese, includ-ing Chinese Monthly Magazine (founded in 1815 in Malacca) and Eastern Western Monthly Magazine (founded in 1833 in Guangzhou).The latter was regarded not
as Christian propaganda but as a genuine newspaper whose aim was to introduce
European culture to China, and to be a real beginning of the Chinese newspaper
(Ge 2011: 23). In 1834, it published a 331-character article titled “An Introduc-
tion to the Newspaper,” which inaugurated the early understanding of modern
After being defeated by the British Empire in the first Opium War (1840–
1842), the Qing Dynasty began to take interest in modern history and its elites
started to seek different approaches to save the old country from falling into
a subjugated, colonial destiny. Both the reformers (Kang Youwei [1858–1927],
Liang Qichao [1873–1929], etc.) and revolutionaries (SunYat-sen [1866–1925] as
the leader) accepted the Western thoughts of building a modern nation-state to
compete with European dominance. In 1911, an insurrection in Wuchang trig-
gered a large-scale rebellion in China, and this in turn led to the foundation of the
Republic of China. China gradually became hitched to modernity.
This period witnessed the transformation of China from an exclusive “Central
Kingdom” to a competitor among the modern nation-states, and the era was
marked by a series of international and civil wars, political coups and street dem-
onstrations, institutional reforms and sharp changes of social structure, amidst a
constant cycle of passion and disillusionment. Newspapers were entangled deeply
into the diversified efforts of pursuing a new China.The newspaper was thought
to be one of the key elements of a modern country. But this broad agreement
regarding the newspaper’s role in a modernized society did not mean that there

was broad agreement regarding much else. The newspaper was assigned a great

amount of partisan work. Both the reformers and the revolutionaries used the
press to appeal to and to arouse their fellow countrymen to achieve their own
political goals.
Professor Li Bin (2008a) summarizes Chinese press history before 1919 as
consisting of “three waves.” The first wave was the Reformists’ press during the
end of 19th century. Liang Qichao, one of the leaders of the Reformists, founded
or edited more than twenty newspapers and magazines during his life, including
Zhongwai Jiwen (1895), Shiwu Bao (1896), and New Citizen (1902). The second
wave arrived in the form of the Revolutionaries’ press in the early 20th cen-
tury. In 1905, Sun Yat-sen first set forth his famous “Three Principles of The
People” (Minzu, Minquan, Minsheng) in the opening remarks of Min Bao, an offi-
cial newspaper of the Tongmenghui, the revolutionaries’ political party. Min Bao
also had a debate in 1905–1907 with New Citizen on whether the monarchy
should be preserved or not. The third wave was the New Culture Movement
(1910s–1920s). One of its leaders, Chen Duxiu (1879–1942), founded a magazine
called New Youth in 1915, which was the most influential one among the 1,000
newly founded newspapers and magazines (Zhou, 2005).
The pioneers of the modern Chinese press contributed to the early research
on the mass media as well. For example, Liang published an article titled “A Brief
Study on the Press” in 1895, which provided statistics of the newspapers in West-
ern counties and argued that the press had five benefits:“to educate the talents,”
“to protect the nation boundaries” by monitoring other countries, “to increase
the knowledge” of elites,“to eliminate the malpractices” by supervising the offi-
cials and “to present the petition” of the folks (He, 1990). In another article pub-
lished in 1902, he emphasized two functions of the press: to be the watchdog
of the government and to be the guide of the masses. His thoughts showed a
sophisticated combination of the ideal of traditional Chinese intellectuals and the
doctrine of modern Western journalism. He also analyzed the stylistics of differ-
ent genres of newspaper articles. Comparing with Liang, who was more like a
believer in the liberalism of speech, revolutionaries like SunYat-sen focused more
on the function of the press as a tool of revolution to provoke and to instigate the
people (Tang, 1977).
During this period, many key Chinese terms used in the practices and theo-
retical thinking of modern press emerged; many of these terms are still being
used.These terms include:“Bao”(報),“Baozhi”(報紙) or “Xinwenzhi”(新聞紙),
“Xinwen”(新聞), “Xuanchuan”(宣傳) and more. This period also marked the
first attempts to study Chinese journalism, and communication more broadly.
However, an academic definition for journalism and communication, and sys-
tematic theories for understanding them, did not come into form until the New
Culture Movement.
Among the three waves of press, Li argued that the third wave was the most

significant. He noted that 

t]he development of the press during the period of [the] May Fourth Move-
ment appears not only as the increasing number of newspapers and the expand-
ing scale of their influence, but rather as a significant change happening in the
communication ecology, and its unparalleled effects on politics and social life.
(2008a: 121)
The most significant change was the development of the journalistic profession,
which itself benefited substantially from the journalism study and education.
1918–1949: “Borrowing Light” for the Chinese Journalism
Studies and Education
The year 1918 is normally regarded as the beginning of Chinese journalism stud-
ies. At the request of President Cai Yuanpei (1868–1940) of Peking University,
Professor Xu Baohuang (1894–1930) created a module “Outline of Journalism”
for the Department of Political Science, and helped Cai found the Association of
Journalism Study. In 1919, Xu became the first professor under the title professor
of journalism and he published a textbook: Journalism.The first academic journal
of journalism, Journalism Weekly, also commenced publication in the same year.
Xu graduated from the University of Michigan in 1916, majoring in eco-
nomics. However, he spent considerable time studying journalism, the newly
developed academic discipline. It is easily noticeable that American journalism
influenced his book, Journalism. Xu noted in the foreword,
what I’m arguing in this book draws materials from the western books . . .
However, there isn’t a comprehensive book even in the west, with some
focusing on the history and others focusing on local issues . . . I have self-
confidence that most of my arguments are beyond the scope of western scholars.
(1994[1919]: 10)
When discussing the basic concepts and theories of journalism, he defined
“news” (新聞) as “the recent facts attracting the attention of mass audience,”
and highlighted the social functions of the press. Among the bibliography of
this book, a book written by Professor Grant Milnor Hyde (1889–1972) from
the University of Wisconsin, Newspaper Reporting and Correspondence (1912), has
been recognized as a main source of Xu’s definition (Wang, 2006). Xu also dis-
cussed the logics of interviewing, reporting and media management. It all accords
with the normative expectations of Western press doctrines, such as “liberty of
speech,” “balanced report,” “media ethics” and “advertisement-supported news-
paper,” and more.
Besides Xu, two other scholars also contributed significantly to the journal-
ism education in Peking University. One is Shao Piaoping (1886–1926), the chief

editor of Jing Bao, who taught at Peking University and other universities, and

published several books on journalism theory and practice. He devoted himself to
journalism before he was brutally executed by a warlord, Zhang Zuolin. Another
journalism scholar was Ge Gongzhen (1890–1935), who was a famous journalist
as well. He published The History of the Chinese Newspaper in 1927.This outstand-
ing book draws a panorama of recent development of Chinese press, and inspired
many successors, including Lin Yutang’s A History of the Press and Public Opinion in
China (1936).
Journalism and press departments were established across the country in the
1920s, including St. John’s University, Xiamen University, Pingmin University
and Yenching University. (See table 17.1 below.) In the beginning, journalism
programs were placed under the control of departments of political science and
Chinese literature. Ever since an independent department of press was established
in St. John’s University, the tendency was to find a unique position in the higher
education system for journalism. From 1920 to 1949, there were a total of fifty-
nine institutions of journalism education in China (Fang, 1994).
Teachers in these departments were mainly distinguished journalists from
major newspapers, or graduates from prominent universities, both domestic and
abroad. Many of them had studied abroad, and it was not uncommon for them to
bring back journalism theories from Europe and America. C. C. Lee (2008: 12)
describes this as “borrowing light” from the West.
The brightest light source for Chinese journalism was the United States of
America, which Chinese scholars often considered as a model of democracy and
modernization. Echoing Lee’s description,Timothy Weston (2010: 331) noted,
The movement to professionalize Chinese journalism must be understood

in the context of a trans-Pacific conversation on journalism that radiated 

out from the United States and which was connected to a broader early
twentieth century American movement to export middle-class ideas around
the world.
Xu Baohuang graduated from the University of Michigan.Some others graduated
from the University of Missouri and Columbia University.The first two directors
of the Department of the Press at St. John’s University, Don Patterson and Maurice
Votaw, were both alumni of the University of Missouri. In 1921, the President of the
University of Missouri,WalterWilliams (1864–1935), visited Beijing and delivered a
speech on“TheWorld’s Journalism.”This was only one of his five visits to China.He
personally helped the journalism education inYenching University by chairing the
preparatory committee of the department of journalism, which raised 5,000 USD
funding in 1924.The department was suspended in 1927 because of financial issues,
andWilliams stood up again by raising 50,000 USD for its re-opening (Zhang,2008).
He was also the key figure to bring China into the 1921 Press Congress of theWorld
in Honolulu. His influence in China gradually led to a “complex of Missouri.”The
curricular programming in the Department of Journalism inYenching University was
largely copied from Missouri’s pre-existing standards.(Volz & Lee, 2008)There were
eleven teachers in the department in 1932–1933, and six of them graduated from
Missouri (Qi & Wang, 2010). In fact, Missouri had so much influence on Chinese
newspapers in the first half of the 20th century that the school’s alumni held impor-
tant positions in the press across China and they were called “the Missouri Mafia”
(Zhang, 2008).
Another pioneer during the early days of Chinese journalism, Shao Piaoping,
went to another country to study: Japan. Shao visited Japan in 1913–1915, fleeing
from the persecution of Yuan Shikai, President of ROC at that moment. He was
studying at Hosei University and noticed a book, Recent Studies on Newspapers,
written by Sugimura Sojjinkan and published in 1915. Sugimura drew the idea
of “news values” from Hyde (1912) and translated it into Japanese as “新聞価値.”
He also reduced the eleven items of news values into four: readers, timeliness,
distances and human interests. Shao quoted directly from Sugimura’s study in
his Practical Applied Journalism (1923), but expanded these with his own practices
(Chen, 2013). Besides Shao, there were other scholars who benefited from the
Japanese transfer of the Western journalism, like Ren Baitao (1890–1952) and
Huang Tianpeng (1905–1982) (Weston, 2010). In the 19th and 20th centuries,
Japan had always been a major destination for the young Chinese scholars. It
became a transfer stop of the Western thoughts, not only in journalism, but also
in other social theories, including Marxism.Weston’s summary is worthy quoting
at some length:
The rise of a new discourse about professional journalism in the late

1910s and early 1920s connected China to a transnational movement for 

ournalism reform dominated by the United States but mediated by Japan,
through which capitalist modernity extended most forcefully into East Asia.
(2010: 346)
A new lighthouse shed more and more light on China’s future after 1920s, which
was the newly founded Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.The USSR provided
an alternative approach for Chinese intellectuals who dreamed of an independent,
prosperous and powerful China. Both the founding of Chinese Communist Party
(1921) and the reorganization of Sun Yat-sen’s Kuo Min Tang (1924) were done
with the express support of the USSR and the Communist International. The
union of the two parties defeated the northern warlords and reunited China in
1928. However, shortly after Sun’s death in 1925, the honeymoon between KMT
and CCP ended in 1927. In the next two decades, history witnessed conflicts,
reunion and decisive battles between these two forces.
Owing to the influence of Soviet Russia, both CCP and KMT adopted a
Xuanchuan (宣傳) system in their political organizations. Xuanchuan, as a Chinese
equivalence to “propaganda,” literally means “communication and provocation.”
This word has already been widely used in history books and poems, as early as
in Xijin Dynasty (266–316), to describe a process of “publicizing.” Its modern
meanings reflect some subtle changes, especially in the complicated context of
modern politics, where it asks for a deep articulation of journalism into politics.
Both parties set up official newspapers, news agencies and radio stations, and
defined them as political organs, instead of independent “watchdogs” of the gov-
ernment.This made it different from the Western doctrines.Although there were
privately owned newspapers, like Shen Bao, Dagong Bao and others, which also
contributed to the resistance to Japanese invasion and domestic struggles for civil
rights, the main tone of Chinese journalism had tuned to another one. With
the end of the civil war and the foundation of the People’s Republic of China,
the scenario of Chinese media studies had found a new approach different from
the U.S. and the European countries.
1949–1966: Socialist Construction, Marxist Journalism
and Anti-Capitalist Mentality
The founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949 signaled not only the
independence of a newly formed nation-state among others in the East and South,
but also an arguably separate approach to achieve modernization within a post-war
world order underlined by an antagonistic relationship of military, political econ-
omy and ideology between two allied blocs, under the monopolistic leadership of
the Soviet Union and the USA. The Cold War world order—together with the
changing complex attitudes of Maoist China toward the Soviet Union—set the

limits for China’s socialist construction, nation-state building, strategic diplomatic 

alliance and the establishment of an anti-capitalist knowledge or discipline system
of social sciences and humanities. However, the neoliberal turn since 1978, under-
pinned by Deng Xiaoping’s slogan of “Development is the Hard Truth,” marked
a reorientation of socialist China’s political-economic and cultural footsteps.This
transition was further catalyzed by the collapse of Soviet Union and China’s acces-
sion to the World Trade Organization, i.e. the global capitalist market system.
The People’s Republic of China, founded in 1949, was constructed to serve
the “people” and resist capitalism domestically while opposing both capitalist and
socialist imperialism internationally. Choosing socialism—with a contextualized
understanding in contemporary China’s histories of revolution and construction—
as the nature of the state and the ideal of future, the New China, under the lead-
ership of the Chinese Communist Party, mobilized both political-economic and
cultural resources of the day to achieve socialism: a localized Marxism.Wang Hui
(1998:9–12) identified three types of Marxism as ideologies of modernization that
characterized China’s socialist path in the 20th century and bridged the social-
ist period and the neoliberal turn since the 1980s, namely: (1) anti-modernity
(Western-centric) Marxist ideology exemplified by Mao Zedong’s Thought, (2)
modernized Marxist ideology and (3) Marxist utopian socialism. In a sense, the
dialectics of Marxism and Socialism in modern China was the outcome of chang-
ing military, political-economic and cultural/ideological contradictions in the
post-war world system.
Journalism or propaganda studies in the first seventeen years of the New
China internalized these political-economic and cultural tensions inside China
and beyond. Sustaining the cultural leadership was no doubt the highest priority
for the CCP. The CCP was constrained by the facts that the national economy
had been almost completely ruined by years of war, and by the overwhelming
investment on military and heavy industries as a newly independent “socialist”
state surrounded by capitalist counterparts. In pursuit of a Gramscian “cultural
hegemony,” the press, conceptualized as the mouthpiece of the Party, was recog-
nized as the central propaganda organ supported by other “mass line” (qunzhong
luxian)-based communication forms, for example, the newspaper-reading group
(du bao zu).The corresponding journalism and propaganda studies, carried out by
former journalists, such as Gan Xifen, and not by academic scholars educated in
universities, was highly consistent with the Party line of seizing the proletarian
dictatorship and cultural leadership.Therefore, the ideological contradictions and
confrontations also appeared in journalism studies.
Two themes were most prominent in the journalism studies between 1949
and 1966. On the one hand, the localized Marxist discussions on the role of
the press and the importance of propaganda from leaders of both CCP, such as
Mao Zedong and Liu Shaoqi, and international socialist movement, such as Marx,
Lenin and Stalin, were considered the origins of a Marxist tradition of journalism
studies, which aimed to find the principles of news and propaganda in its own

way. Theories of class struggle and Marxist social evolution are two examples.

Until today, as Zhao Yuezhi (2011b: 148) noted, “Leninist and Maoist legacies
continue to cast a long shadow in China’s post-Mao media system.”The Marx-
ist journalism studies, also as an institutionalized discipline in China today, is by
nature the articulation of those two legacies. On the other hand, with a special
concern for the complex revolutionary experiences and intensified ideological
conflicts within the party-state, journalism studies in the New China presented
itself also as a battlefield of confrontations against capitalist resurgence, and fur-
thermore, a sphere of political struggles.The clear distinctions between capitalist
journalism enterprise and proletarian journalism enterprise (Gan, 2007: 90–116)
in early journalism textbooks underlined this class-oriented theoretical formation.
The Chinese version of “Blind Spot debate” between two famous journalism
scholars in 1950s is another example, as discussed below.
In an interview with Gan Xifen, a former correspondent of Xinhua News
Agency and self-avowed Marxist journalism researcher and teacher at Peking
University (1954–1958) and Renmin University (1954–) successively, Chen Na
(2014) recalled a famous debate in the history of Chinese journalism studies.
We call this debate the “Blind Spot debate,” in correspondence with the debate
happened later in the 1980s between communication political economists in
North America and Europe (Dallas Smythe, 1994). The Chinese case involved
two famous scholars, Gan Xifen and Wang Zhong. Gan Xifen was then a profes-
sor of journalism at Renmin University while Wang Zhong was the head of the
journalism department at Fudan University.
In April 1956,Mao Zedong made a famous speech—“Ten Major Relations”—
at a meeting of the Party’s politburo standing committee. In this speech, he pro-
posed the “double-hundred” policy, a name that derived from his assertion in that
speech that one should “Let a hundred flowers blossom and a hundred schools
of thought contend.” Based on this policy, the “rectification movement,” calling
for overt critics to the Party from outside, was launched by the CCP on May 1
in 1957. However, this movement was suddenly reversed by a fierce “anti-rightist
campaign” in late May.Two journalism symposiums were held right in the middle
of the “rectification movement” in Beijing, which made this debate happen. At
the second symposium, Prof. Gan strongly condemned Prof.Wang’s propositions,
based on a series of reforms of journalism studies that he led at Fudan, including
(1) the proposition that the newspaper is the result of social needs, (2) the idea that
both politics and commodities are attributes of newspaper and (3) the emphasis
on reader’s needs (Chen Na, 2014). Although these criticisms seem theoretical
indeed, one should take heed of the fiercely contended and hotly ideological
political circumstances then occurring between the highly subjectively labeled
leftist and rightist points of view. Prof.Wang was criticized later in 1957 at Fudan
as a “big rightist” and his job was suspended until 1979.
Gan insisted, in the aforementioned interview, that nothing was wrong with
his theoretical critics at the time, aside from the exaggeration of labeling Wang

anti-party, anti-socialism and anti-revolution (Chen Na, 2014). As a temporary 

winner of the debate with Prof.Wang against the political background of leftism,
Prof. Gan would later become the target of the ultra-leftists’ attack inside Ren-
min University due to his “revisionist” perspectives, including his assertion that
a newspaper serves not only the Party but also the people. In a reflective piece
included in his 2007 personal anthology, Gan reconsidered his critics of that time;
“I once wrote critical articles pointing to someone, exaggerating infinitely to the
two-line’s struggle. Now in retrospection, it seems quite inappropriate and defi-
nitely a historical lesson.” (Gan Xifen, 2007: 301) The exaggeration of critics from
theoretical domain to political struggle is always regarded by Gan as his major
problem in that particular historical context.
Beyond this story of Gan vs.Wang, laden as it was with political struggle, it is
widely recognized that both are founding figures for journalism studies and edu-
cation in post-1949 China. Prof. Wang, based at Fudan University in Shanghai,
led a series of reforms in journalism in the early 1950s, including the founda-
tion of “Journalism Collection of Translations” (xinwenxue yicong), which took the
lead in introducing Western communication theories and the translation of the
term “mass communication” into Chinese, for example,“Mass Thoughts Interac-
tion” (qunzhong sixiang jiaotong) and “Mass Psychological Interaction” (qunzhong
xinli jiaotong) (Fudan University, “Big Events of Journalism School at Fudan
Prof. Gan was regarded as the first to build localized Chinese Marxist jour-
nalism theories, exemplified by his self-developed textbooks that were extracted
from his rich experiences as a journalist and from his readings of Marxist works.
These textbooks include Basics of Journalism Theory (1980) and ThirtyYears of Jour-
nalism Debates (1988), followed by another book published in 1996 recalling and
rethinking his academic life: The Confession of a Journalism Scholar. He is also the
chief editor of a popular reference book for journalism studies and education,
Journalism Dictionary (1992), which includes 5,368 entries, running 1.8 million
words. Moreover, as a successful teacher or advisor, some of his students, especially
when he moved to Renmin University, have become leading scholars today in
both journalism studies and communication studies.These include, for example,
Prof.Yu Guoming of Renmin University, who is influential because of his sci-
entific approach in audience and public opinion studies. Prof.Yu has also served
as the director of the Institute of Public Opinion Studies at Renmin University,
which was founded by Prof. Gan in 1986, and was the first academic organization
specializing in the use of the opinion poll in Mainland China. Prof. Tong Bing
is another student of Gan, and is regarded as the first Ph.D. (1988) of journal-
ism educated in China. He has also led a couple of nationally leading research
institutions/centers, first at Renmin University, and then at Fudan University in
Prof. Gan’s groundbreaking works highlight a series of principles, which
attempted to set up journalism as a scientific discipline (xinwen youxue) while

opposing critics from Western-based social sciences including communication 

theories on the one hand, and to link theory with dynamic journalism practices
on the other hand. By scientific discipline, his major contribution, as discussed
previously in this chapter, was to develop localized Marxist journalism theories,
featuring the philosophy of historical materialism and dialectics. The statements
excerpted from his book Basics of Journalism Theory (Gan, 2007: 3–183) highlight
this orientation, such as:“the origin of news is fact”;“the essential attribute of fact
is objectivity”;“information is the most common phenomenon”; and “news is the
reflection in the human mind on the latest fact in the objective world.” However,
when defending the academic position of journalism, he also clarified the dif-
ferences between journalism and communication studies by revealing the nature
of “transcending social class” of Western communication theories, similar with
his classification of capitalist journalism and the proletarian journalism. In other
words, the key point he implied was still the class basis of Marxist journalism.
In sum, the first seventeen years of journalism studies in China were twisted
with a series of political struggles. The anti-rightist politics and anti-capitalist
mentality underpinned both the dominant Marxist tradition of journalism stud-
ies with localized Chinese innovations and the nature of class struggle in the
ideological sphere, in which the newspaper, as the mainstream mass media of that
time, was by definition the instrument of class struggle against capitalist thoughts.
However, the concept of class widely and simply used was problematic itself. As
Zhao Yuezhi (2009: 94) once pointed out, “Mao’s highly subjectivist concept of
‘class’” “denoted the attitudes of social or political forces toward revolutionary
politics, rather than the structural situation of social class,” which finally turned
into “depoliticized symbolic violence of the most brutal type,” as demonstrated
in the following ten years of Cultural Revolution. Apart from minimal discus-
sions about the media’s role of fulfilling people’s needs and marketization as well
as diversifying the opinion climate, journalism and propaganda studies dedicated
itself to a class-struggle-oriented approach serving the formation of a bureaucratic
socialist state and the power relations inside. In the next ten years of 1966–1976,
those class-based journalism and communication practices were further intensi-
fied to an unprecedented extreme. In contradistinction to this pattern, as shown
by more recent retrospective studies, which treated the Cultural Revolution as
a complex political, social and historical process, we see the multiple roles that
media played in communicating the revolution and how indigenous commu-
nication forms were created and used to achieve particular political and social
1966–1976: Communicating the Cultural Revolution
Despite being officially labeled as the “dark” ten years in terms of violence and
chaos, the Cultural Revolution still deserves careful and serious historical anal-
ysis, especially concerning the indigenous communication forms that served

the nationwide people’s revolutionary behaviors rather than the bureaucratized

socialist state.Among the few academic works available in either Chinese or Eng-
lish, there are two types of studies that can be identified to contribute to our
historical discussions.
First of all, the official journalism history emphasized the instrumental role of
newspaper and other media forms in both disseminating the revolutionary cul-
tural politics and its most popular embodiment: Chairman Mao’s quotations, and
mobilizing political campaigns. For example, a journal article published in 1966
was titled “Be a Revolutionary, Write [a] Revolutionary Article” (Yang, 1966),
which seems to be more of a political essay rather than an academic paper. Serving
the Cultural Revolution is the mission not only of the remaining media forms but
also of journalism studies
The second type of studies includes a broad range of academic works pub-
lished afterward, which discussed the complex media usage, political rhetoric
and indigenous communication forms during the Cultural Revolution. Lu Xing
(2004) examined “the rhetorical landscape of the Cultural Revolution” through
a great number of analyses of political languages and symbolic practices dur-
ing the period. Alan. P.L. Liu (1969: 314) explained the factors that caused the
“destruction of mass media,” for example,“the personality factor of Mao Zedong
who conceived of mass persuasion in an anti-intellectual and anti-institutional
framework and whose conception of mass persuasion was based mainly on peas-
ant mobilization” instead of mediated communication; the urban-rural gap and
the limited circulation of printed media that were urban-centered; and the instru-
mental role of remaining mass media for internal struggles among Party officials
of different wings. However, along with the reduction or retreat of official or
state-owned mass media, with only “Liangbao Yikan” (two newspapers and one
magazine, namely People’s Daily, Liberation Army Daily and Red Flag magazine)
remaining as the mouthpieces of political struggle, “more radical, decentral-
ized, and even extra-state communication outlets and practices—namely, Red
Guard tabloids and information networks—temporarily destabilized this (mass
media) system amidst heightened ideological and factional struggles” (Zhao,
2011b: 148–149). Comparing with the official media, the widely published and
circulated Red Guard tabloids were “a decentralized network” (Lowell Dittmer,
1987: 80). As Roderick MacFarquhar and Michael Schoenhals once pointed out
(2008: 481), despite the limits of “information value” for historical analysis, the
Red Guard tabloids were “the popular and highly effective instruments of pub-
lic information and disinformation campaigns pursued at the time by China’s
‘organizations of the revolutionary masses.’” Some Red Guard tabloids, such as
The Capital’s Red Guards (Shoudu Hongweibing), were nationally influential in dis-
seminating their political claims. It even had more than forty contact stations in
big cities like Nanjing and Chongqing. It is estimated that between the summer of
1966 and the spring of 1969, the number of Red Guard tabloids reached almost

5,000 nationwide, and about 200 based in Beijing (Tan, 2007).

Therefore, in light of all of this, we argue that the scholarly discussions on the
dual role of organization and mobilization of those indigenous communication
forms from bottom up in Cultural Revolution are highly inadequate. A modern
and institutional mass media-centered approach is always misleading in exploring
diverse communication practices in history and even alternative communication
forms, which once played key roles in driving the transformation of a particular
society like China.This is definitely another blind spot for communication studies
in China and beyond.
1976 to Present: Neoliberalism, Conflicts and the
Institutionalization of Communication Studies
The ten years’ Cultural Revolution characterized the class-based cultural politics
in defending the Party’s ideological leadership and avoiding the possible resur-
gence of capitalist culture. However, the third plenary session of the eleventh
central committee, when Deng Xiaoping seized power, shifted China’s central
policies from the cultural domain to the political economy.“Development is the
hard truth,” one of Deng’s most circulated slogans, not only signified the economy
as the centerpiece of policymaking in the next three decades, but also underlined
the paradigm of a depoliticized “development” in the course of rebuilding China’s
social science and humanity, in which communication studies as a newly formed
discipline is a typical example.
Rather than chronologically summarizing the history of communication stud-
ies in post-cultural revolution China, as we did elsewhere (Hu & Ji, 2013), in
this chapter, we intended to highlight the intersections between journalism and
communication studies and the structural changes of reform China’s political-
economic circumstances over the past three decades. Following this sociology of
knowledge approach, we argue that a better understanding of how communica-
tion studies re-emerged after the early explorations of Chinese sociologists (Liu,
2014) could be achieved.
The Neoliberal Turn in Journalism and Communication Studies
The first intersection is the neoliberal turn, which stretched from late 1970s to
around 2008. During this period of time, at least four historic transitions for
journalism studies, communication studies and their twisted relationship could
be discovered.
The Success of Communication and the Crisis of Journalism.
The crisis of journalism or the idea that “journalism has no theory” (xinwen

wuxue) in China has long been a space of debate in parallel with the prosperity

of communication. Communication is also supposed to substitute journalism in
a certain period of time. In an article titled “Walking into the Twilight: Ret-
rospection and Reflection of 30 Years’ Journalism Studies,” Hao Shukai (2009)
raised three arguments for interpreting the descending position of journalism:
(1) the deviation from its practice-orientation and attributes as enterprise, (2) the
deviation from humanity and human-centeredness and (3) the traps set by com-
munication studies and scholars, let alone the historic fact that a large number
of communication scholars were originally journalism scholars. As a response to
this article, Prof. Zheng Baowei of Renmin University, who has championed the
academic status of journalism, contended (2010) that despite some problems, in
reality, for example, the increasing political and economic supports from the state,
the influence of journalist practices in today’s convergent media environment, as
well as the consolidated position of journalism in Chinese discipline system, make
it self-evident that the idea that “journalism has no theory” is untenable. However,
he says, journalism scholars should be more open to interdisciplinary efforts to
“protect journalism.”
Focusing on both the practical importance of news media and news flow
across media platforms and the Party line of owning and operating news media,
journalism is indeed able to be independent from a more encompassing arena
of communication studies. However, despite this highly media-centric proposi-
tion and its political role in the Party’s ideological management, journalism does
incorporate a series of communication terminologies and theoretical frameworks,
particularly those that originated in the U.S.-based administrative tradition, in
developing its own system of knowledge, such as the four theories of the press
originated by Wilbur Schramm and his colleagues, media effects measurement
and audience analysis.
Incorporating Marxist Journalism into the Media and
Communication Market Economy with Chinese Characteristics
Although the party-journalism remains the highest position in the pyramid of a
three-tier discipline of journalism and communication (see figures 17.1 and 17.2
below), especially through the top-down financial research support, the majority
of journalism studies have been intertwined with communication studies, with a
special focus on market development and state regulation.
Beginning in the 1980s, flourishing in the 1990s and adjusting in the 2000s,
the marketization of socialist China’s media system played a substantial role
in reorienting traditional Marxist journalism studies and shaping the focus of
communication studies.The dual attributes of journalism as both industry and
enterprise were formulated in textbooks (Li, 2013: 98), which led to the stud-
ies of changing models of regulation, or from control to regulation that the

Chinese state should adopt and implement.Three points should be highlighted

in terms of the changing paradigm of journalism studies in reform China. First
of all, the prosperous development of market-oriented journalism, for instance,
Dushi Bao (urban newspapers) since late 1990s and civic TV news programmes
(minsheng xinwen) since early 2000s, drew enormous scholarly attention. Fig-
ure 17.1 shows the result of a single keyword searching of “urban newspaper”
in one of the biggest database of Chinese journal articles, CNKI. It is evident

that the amount of articles on this topic increased rapidly between 2000–2003

and 2006–2008, and the total amount has been increasing until 2009, followed
by a slight decline. Figure 17.2 illustrates the steadily growing number of jour-
nal articles from the same database on the study of civic TV news programs,
which is also based on a single keyword searching of “civic TV news pro-
grams” in Chinese. Considered as a new wave of “journalism reform” (xinwen
gaige), differentiated from the first one represented by the popularity of evening
newspaper in 1980s and the second one led by elitist China Central Television’s
(CCTV) news department in early 1990s within the system of central media
(tizhi nei), these urban-based market-oriented journalist practices in key and
affluent cities deeply restructured the traditional media landscape and the ways
of doing journalism. The changing triangle of relations between state, market
and society, and especially the retreat of state from strict control on news con-
tent and the expansion of market forces, opened tremendous space for scholars
of different academic and ideological backgrounds to explore the potentials of
journalism reform for the overall social transformation. Both the left-wing and
right-wing perspectives have taken advantage of the transition to demonstrate
their ideal of news media’s role in forming a society of freedom and democracy.
Articulating “Developmentalist” Mass Communication Theories
with Marxist Journalism in the Process of Neoliberalization
The intended or unintended reduction of diverse traditions in Western commu-
nication theories during the introduction and translation since the early 1980s,
which prioritized the developmentalist paradigm and administrative research tra-
dition (e.g. the 5“W” model and communication effects measurement) as propa-
gated by Wilbur Schramm—the widely acknowledged institutional framer of the
modern communication discipline (Guo, 2011; Hu, 2008)—was due to at least
two historical factors. On the one side, traditional Marxist journalism scholars,
who had experienced the brutal political struggles in“anti-rightist campaigns”and
then the Cultural Revolution, eagerly overthrew the dominant discourse of class
struggle and the instrumental role of media over journalism.Therefore, the theo-
retical vacuum left was soon filled in by more “advanced” social sciences of mass
communication originated from the USA since early 1980s. The interpersonal
social network was an important component in the effort to promote this histori-
cal articulation (Liu, 2014: 32; Jiang, 2012, 32). On the other side, as the neoliberal
turn of post-Cultural Revolution China’s political-economic and cultural systems
could be taken to be an organic part of global neoliberalism (Harvey, 2005), the
pursuit of an alternative theoretical paradigm in the early 1980s in understanding
the complex consequences of both internal market reform and external openness
was a central task or political mission for those traditional Marxist journalists who
were later renamed communication scholars.
The developmentalist mass communication theories that were introduced in

liberal quantities into Chinese universities and research institutions throughout

the past three decades echoed the neoliberal shifts of China’s political and eco-
nomic transformation and the re-connection of China with the global capital-
ist market and post-Cold War world order, for which media and the enlarging
information and communication industries and the ideology of a depoliticized
“information society” have been prevailing (Zhao, 2009: 94–95). As a result,
more market-oriented research sub-fields against the background of neolib-
eral globalization have emerged, including marketing, advertising, and public
relations. For example, audience surveys emerged in the early 1980s. In 1982,
an audience (actually “readers” at that time) survey was carried out in Beijing
organized by the Capital’s News Association (Shoudu Xinwen Xuehui) and led by
a female researcher from the Chinese Academy of Social Science, Chen Chong-
shan, who afterwards dedicated herself to scientific audience-centered research.
This sample survey is widely regarded as the first scientific research on the
audience for both journalism and communication studies in China after 1978.
One of Chen’s recent academic publications is titled “On Audience-Centered
Communication” (2008), which is a collection of her survey-derived empirical
studies of the media audience since 1982, along with some reflections on local-
ized communication theories placed in a longer view of Chinese culture. From
then on, the scientific approach of audience survey and analysis prospered. We
conducted a keyword search on the CNKI website. It turns out that 4,168 jour-
nal articles and dissertations were published between 1986 and 2014, with an
accelerated rate of growth that is especially noticeable after 2004.Today there are
many audience survey and research institutions in both universities and indus-
tries, such as the Social Statistics Institute and Audience Research Center at the
Communication University of China, the Institute of Public Opinion Studies
at Renmin University and CSM Media Research. Perhaps the most significant
impact of audience surveys in communication studies is not the expansion of
professional research institutions, but the widening and deepening penetration of
the scientific approach in the community of Chinese communication scholars.
In the first thirty years since 1949, advertising studies was framed by a dichot-
omy of socialist and capitalist advertising. Although scholars from a wide range
of backgrounds, ranging from literature, arts and crafts, and journalism to inter-
national trade, contributed to advertising studies in general (Zhu, 2009: 95), the
systematic and comprehensive development of this field didn’t appear until late
1970s. In other words, advertising studies was substantially driven by a marketi-
zation or commodification-oriented transformation of the national economy.
At a conference celebrating thirty years of advertising studies after 1978, sixty-
six Chinese scholars and experts gathered to discuss the interactions between
advertising studies and the development of the commodity and market economy,
the developmental trajectories of advertising industry and companies, the role
of changing media technologies as well as five basic divisions, namely: market-
ing and advertising market, advertising creativity, education, policy and regula-

tion, and international exchange (Ma, 2009). Xiamen University opened the first

advertising program in 1983. Prof. Chen Peiai from this university has noted
that from 1983–2008, the number of Chinese universities that have established
advertising programs increased to around 300, with about 100 thousands students
enrolled (ibid.). Despite the prosperity of advertising education, the School of
Advertising at the Communication University of China is still the only university
dedicated entirely to advertising education and studies in the Mainland today.
Public relations studies also emerged in the early 1980s.As theoretical responses
to the development of market-oriented economic reform, public relations soon
became one of hottest programs in universities and the theoretical foundation for
public relations was clearly based on U.S. public relations studies. Chen Xianhong
(2005) examined the public relations studies in China in a time span of 1994–2003
through statistical analysis. His research demonstrated that by August 2003, public
relations studies in China was just at the level of 1970s in the U.S., twenty-five to
thirty years lagged behind the world class, while this field was still in the transition
toward maturity. Following Chen’s historical retrospection, Liu Minzhi (2010) did
a successive quantitative analysis on public relations studies in China from 1999 to
2009.The absence of both a consistent theoretical system and paradigm, the major
contributors are public relations scholars are basic characteristics out of her findings.
Restructuring the Class Basis of Scholarship
Despite the depoliticized efforts to build a class-free academic discourse for today’s
social sciences, there is no doubt that China has become one of the most unequal
societies in the world, characterized by intensified classification (Lu, 2004) and
social disintegration/rupture (Sun,2004),which is even worse compared to the pre-
reform era. Following a developmentalist approach, the newly established commu-
nication studies,no matter which medium it takes as its subject from a technological
deterministic angle,mainly position media in a government-market dilemma,either
examining the changing model of state regulation and deregulation, or explor-
ing the innovation of communication markets for sustainable economic growth.
Although there are increasing discussions on how media can be used for the forma-
tion of an independent civil society, the target group of people who has the poten-
tial to be empowered and armed by efficient use of media tools obviously refers to
the rising urban middle class.This trend is particularly exemplified by one of the
most attractive research fields, namely audience analysis and its variant in the digital
age: user and data analysis.The class bias of today’s communication studies in China,
embodied further in the biased stereotypes toward the urban-rural divide, has not
generated much attention, except a few pilot studies that have a critical awareness of
class consciousness (Zhao, 2008; Qiu, 2009) in communication scholarship.
Conflicts: Political Economy and Ideology
The second intersection is conflict.The neoliberal turn of China incorporated a

series of conflicts between state and market, state and society as well as different

contesting interests groups that have emerged in the historic processes of uneven
development. As the Chinese society in transition is increasingly mediated by
various communication tools and forms, it becomes more important for com-
munication studies to understand the conflicts that arise in this historical milieu.
Studies on the structural conflicts between market freedom and state regulation,
the establishment of legal system and the continuing monopolistic control by the
party-state, as well as cultural sovereignty and global free flow of information fea-
tured the macroscopic side of this academic concern.As for the microscopic side,
a number of case-based studies exhibited the pervasive contradictions that have
occurred in every corner of the socialist market transformation in China. The
death of Sun Zhigang in 2003, a youth migrant worker in Guangzhou, attracted
tremendous public and scholarly attention not only to the flaws of the legal sys-
tem, but also to the communicative potentials to influence public opinion and
finally transform society, through both traditional mass media and new, internet-
based platforms. For example, Long Huan (2007) examined this event through a
lens of public opinion as the interaction between state and society. XiaoYanxiong
and Fang Shuyang (2009) focused on the creative tactics of certain newspapers,
Southern Weekly for instance, in reporting breaking events. The 2011 Wenzhou
high-speed trains clash is another case, through which the accumulated antago-
nistic emotion of the public was triggered and spread by social media, and later
fermented in traditional media. In an empirical study, Wang Ping and Xie Yun-
geng (2012) described the role and impact of micro-blogging opinion leaders in
breaking public events.WangYi (2012) theoretically delineated the public opinion
“field” of micro-blogging through the description of the Wenzhou case along
three dimensions, including: the new media field, the psychological field and the
social field. Obviously, social media, as a new platform of expression and organiza-
tion, are emerging as alternatives to or substitutes for traditional media, to mediate
the intensified social conflicts. Today, more scholarly works have been shifted to
consider the mutual enhancement of social media and social transition.
Another type of conflict regarding communication studies in China occurred
in the differentiation of scholars. Although the traditional class-based division
between the left and the right is not popular as political identity any more in such
a de-politicized era, conflicts between scholars of different political-economic
interests and ideological strands are by no means disappearing. In other words, the
division between the right and the left merely disappeared in discourse, but not
in reality. Studies defending state regulation over media markets clash with those
who champion the “gospel” of market economy. Oppositions between nation-
alist and international communication studies have proven to be quite salient,
as have those between exponents of scientific and unscientific methodological
approaches, administrative-oriented studies and critical studies, and so on. If we
contextualize communication studies within the broader political dispute about
the orientation of China’s reform, we see fierce debates that have arisen between
two newly formed rightist and leftist groups of intellectuals, if we renew the use

of this ideologically antagonistic set of labels. The role of communication as a

component in the pursuit of Western liberal democracy or as a means to achieve
a socialist people’s democracy as proclaimed by the CCP is often at the cen-
ter of ideological conflicts. The Weberian hope for a value-free inquiry quickly
becomes just another utopian vantage point overlooking the complex reality of
conflicts throughout the human history.
Institutionalizaton and Internal Diversification of
Communication Studies
The third intersection is the institutionalization and internal diversification of
research. Amidst the historic wave of rebuilding social science in China, the
effort of institutionalization has been widely recognized by academic histori-
ans. For Chinese journalism scholars, one of the urgent tasks in the early 1980s
when Wilbur Schramm made his “ice-breaking journey” ( Jiang, 2012: 19; Lin &
Nerone, this volume) to Mainland China was not only the innovation or para-
digm shift for traditional Marxist journalism, but also the institutionalization
of journalism and its “extension”—communication—among other disciplines
of social science. Besides the “collective anxieties” that appeared among those
first-generation journalism scholars in reform China, the enormous impact from
American social science cannot be undervalued. Liu (2014: 32) contended that
what Wilbur Schramm brought to China (see Lin and Nerone, this volume) is
more like the idea of “communication as a discipline” than of “communication
studies.” Therefore, for those scholars, the re-institutionalization of journalism
and institutionalization of communication echoed both the nostalgia of pre-
Cultural Revolution or pre-destruction eras and the anxiety to catch up with
the developmental step of communication studies in the Western world as well
as other social sciences rebuilt in China. In other words, on the one hand, jour-
nalism and later communication scholars tried to reclaim and recover their posi-
tions as intellectual elitists in a post-Cultural Revolution society; on the other
hand, their anxieties of being marginalized or even excluded by the advanced
Western world triggered a rising nationalism in a developmentalism-dominated
global context.
“Journalism and communication” as a first-tier discipline, upgraded from the
second-tier, was officially confirmed in 1997 by the former Academic Degree
Commission of the State Council and the former State Education Commission,
then listed in the “Catalogue of Disciplines for Awarding Doctor and Master
Degrees and Educating Graduate Students,” and finally included in the National
Standard System as shown below. All Chinese universities are required to apply
and operate their full-range degree programs (bachelor, master and doctor)
and other programs following this standard and under the leadership of those
two organizations, which are now merged into a single entity: The Bureau of
Degree Management and Graduate Education.The institutionalization of com-

munication studies or the establishment of communication as an independent

discipline is not only a symbol of its legitimacy, but also a critical resource
for each university, which is able to set those programs, to recruit faculty and
students, and to apply relevant financial supports (e.g. research funding). The
hierarchy of journalism and communication schools or universities has been
formed in terms of the strength to attract and accumulate both political and
economic resources.
The leading universities in both research and education for journalism and
communication include Renmin University, Communication University of
China, Fudan University, Wuhan University, Jinan University (in Guangzhou),
Peking University, and Tsinghua University. However, the names of these schools
show how those universities understand the historical relations between journal-
ism and communication. For example, Renmin University and Fudan University
chose the name “School of Journalism” to cover both journalism and communi-
cation faculties and programs, while Wuhan University, Jinan University, Peking
University and Tsinghua University decided to use “School of Journalism and
Communication.” In addition, two universities chose a single “communication”
to name their organizations, namely Communication University of China and
School of Communication of Shenzhen University.
Furthermore, the Institute of Journalism and Communication (IJC, formerly
Institute of Journalism) of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) and a
couple of other journalism institutes in their respectively provincial academy of
social sciences (e.g. Sichuan and Shanghai) are also important players in this his-
tory. The IJC of CASS was widely recognized to have led the introduction of
Western communication theories into China in the early 1980s, exemplified by
hosting the visit of Wilbur Schramm. In addition, four national research centers
were established by the Ministry of Education (MOE) in the early 2000s, includ-
ing National Center for Radio andTelevision Studies at Communication Univer-
sity of China, National Center for Journalism and Social Development Studies at
Renmin University, National Center for Information and Communication Stud-
ies at Fudan University and National Center for Media Development at Wuhan
University. Later, under the umbrella of the “985” project, the MOE founded
four journalism and communication-related national creative bases for philosophy
and social sciences, which are situated respectively at Renmin University, Fudan
University, Tsinghua University and Wuhan University. The above-mentioned
eight research organizations are usually called the “National Team” of journalism
and communication studies.The landscape of Chinese communication studies is
certainly more diverse when regional characteristics are taken into account, but
the leading roles played by those eight centers and bases cannot be undervalued.
Finally, a couple of nationally influential associations have also been contributing
in forming the academic community across China, such as China Communi-
cation Association (founded in 2001) China Radio and Television Association
(founded in 1986) and the Chinese Association for History of Journalism and

Mass Communication (founded in 1989)

As illustrated in the discipline map of journalism and communication studies, a
number of sub-fields signified the diversification of research, especially the expan-
sion of both research targets and communication or media-centric perspectives into
other social sectors. In China, one joke had it that that no social scientific research
could be undertaken without a communication scholar or a communication per-
spective being involved. However, as critical scholars once reminded us, the internal
diversification of communication studies, or a media-centric methodology (Zhao,
2011a:9) itself,does not necessarily lead to a diversification of communication stud-
ies embedded in an interlinked system of social sciences and humanities. Enjoying
the dual-legacy of both sociology (first at the University of Chicago and second
at Columbia University) and journalism in the USA, communication studies as
a discipline or independent research field is by nature a combination of different
intellectual traditions in different periods of time. Once the window was open to
the Western world in the early 1980s, what Chinese Marxist journalism scholars
faced was an already institutionalized communication discipline. As we cited from
Liu (2014: 29) previously, this is the set of communication theories, among other
traditions or streams, that Wilbur Schramm chose to propagate to his Chinese col-
leagues.The problem with this well-established system of knowledge and method-

ology, as Chin-Chuan Lee (2014: 14) demonstrated, is the “involution” of academic evelopment, characterized by a an over-development on research technics, a focus

on its own particular research problems, and a refusal to engage in dialogue with
any other perspectives.The final results of this process are: ignoring broader social
concerns, blocking theoretical innovations and possible academic crisis. In this sense,
the diversification of communication studies in China, as implied in the above dis-
cipline system, makes it at least arguably part of the institutionalization efforts.The
system carries with it the implied ambitions of communication scholars to enclose
“land” into their own hands. However, to sustain the creativity and achieve real
diversification, revitalizing the interdisciplinary nature of communication studies
with an open eye to alternative theoretical traditions is crucial for communication
scholars in China, in the present and the future.
A Future that Is Uncertain: Concluding Remarks
In parallel with the continuing adjustments of journalism studies into today’s
complex media and information environment while remaining the ideological

leadership of Marxism, communication is demonstrating itself to be more open

to alternative research targets and theoretical paradigms, together with contesting
ideological and intellectual backgrounds generated by China’s uneven develop-
ment in politics, economy, and society.
In a paper exploring the possible paradigm shifts for indigenous journalism
and communication studies in China, we proposed three steps of methodological
reorientations, namely (1) de-contextualizing Western theories, (2) combining pre-
reform and post-reform eras as a historic continuity and (3) positioning China in
world structure (Hu, Zhang & Ji, 2013: 152–155). At the end of this chapter, after
careful reflections on journalism and communication studies since early 20th cen-
tury, we believe that two further steps are of great importance as well.They are (1) to
revitalize the domestic and historic communication practices as the basis for concep-
tualization, theoretical formation and innovation, as we emphasized for the period
of Cultural Revolution; and (2) to rebuild communication studies on the basis of
interdisciplinary efforts, instead of strengthening a separated and self-enclosed dis-
cipline with a potential threat of “involution” to sustainable academic development.
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