chapter  5
16 Pages

The burden of the past II: from the Cultural Revolution to the Tiananmen massacre

The Cultural Revolution brought about the destruction of journalism as we, and Chinese journalists hitherto, understand it. Afterwards, so traumatic was the experience of the Cultural Revolution seen to have been that the first instinct of almost everybody – from journalists to former leading politicians to peasants and workers – was to get back to where China had been before. Mao’s heirs could not hold their fort; change was demanded. However, the two conflicting strands of thinking about modernization soon reasserted themselves and ideological differences between the new leadership and the people – or at least the many of the thinking urban citizens – were very sharp by the late 1980s. For the first time journalists declared themselves, publicly and in large numbers, for a change in their social role.