Chinese Officials Learn to Spin

Bulk orders from government offices have propelled “The Art of Guiding Public Opinion”, by journalist-turned-official Ren Xianliang, to sales several times higher than expected. From The Telegraph:

“Even though the media is run by the Party,” the book says, “you should not lecture journalists [and] do not be hostile to journalists because they are not your enemy, but your partner.”

Furthermore, the book advises officials to “remain calm” in the face of “difficult, pain-inducing questions” and not to “fly into a rage” ….

The author of the book, Mr Ren, was a journalist with , the state news agency, before becoming a relatively senior official in Shaanxi province. Unfortunately, although his book notes that “most of the foreign journalists who come to China are objective, impartial and friendly,” he declined to be interviewed.

Zhao Zhenyu, a professor at the School of Huazhong University in Wuhan, said the book was laudable, but doubted that would really take it all to heart. “The problem is that cadres fear journalists and avoid them.” He said the university now runs classes to “help cadres understand that journalism is different from propaganda”.

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