When the Periphery Meets the Core of a Party-Press System: Remember Comrade Lei Feng in China's Shifting Media Kaleidscope

Authors

  • Pan Ji Journalism School, Center for Information and Communication Studies, Fudan University, 400 Guoding Ave, Yangpu District, Shanghai 200434

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.6000/2371-1655.2018.04.04

Keywords:

Comrade Lei Feng, collective memory, media reform.

Abstract

At the epicenter of China's reform, media adapt their propagandist role to different extents. They present distinct images about China's Communist past. Against the backdrop, we examine media reconstructions of Lei Feng, a Communist icon CCP created in the 1960s. Drawing on media reform and collective memory literature, we find party-organ newspapers draw on altruism and loyalty in his original image to promote social stability and economic development for present purposes. Meanwhile, user generated contents in cyberspace question the authenticity of Lei Feng's official records. Different reconstructions collide in online discussions. When commemoration is linked to chronicling, Lei Feng becomes a demoralizing lie; when not, a symbol for much-needed virtues in the present. Implications for understanding China's media reform and for China's collective memorization of revolutionary heroes are discussed.

References

Bellah, R. N., Madsen, R., Sullivan, W.M., Swidler. A., & Tipton, S. M. (1985). Habits of the Heart. New York: Harper and Row, pp. 212-321.
Chirwa,W. (1997). Collective Memory and the process of reconciliation and reconstruction. Development in Practice, 7(4), 479-482.
https://doi.org/10.1080/09614529754314
Chu, G. & Ju, Y. (1993). The Great Wall in Ruins: Communication and Cultural Changes in China. New York: SUNY Press.
Coser, L. (1992). Maurice Halbwachs on Collective Memory. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Dijck, J. (2006). Record and hold: Popular music between personal and collective memory. Critical Studies in Media Communication, 23(5), 357-374.
https://doi.org/10.1080/07393180601046121
Durkheim, E. [1893] (1964). The Division of Labor in Society. New York: Free Press.
Edy, J. (1999). Journalistic uses of collective memory. Journal of Communication, 49(2), 71-85.
https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1460-2466.1999.tb02794.x
Edy, J., & Daradanova, M. (2006). Reporting through the lens of the past: From Challenger to Columbia. Journalism, 7(2), 131-151.
https://doi.org/10.1177/1464884906062602
Freud, S. (1939). Moses and Monotheism, New York: Viking.
Funkenstein, Amos. 1993. Perception of Jewish History. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
Gramsci, A. (1976). Selections from the Prison Notebook, New York: International Publishers.
Halbwachs, M. (1941). La Topographie Legendair des Evangiles. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.
Halbwachs, M. (1992). On collective memory, Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Hasian, M., & Carlson, C. (2000). Revisionism and collective memory: The struggle for meaning in the Amistad affair. Communication Monographs, 67(1), 42-55.
https://doi.org/10.1080/03637750009376494
He, Z. (1998). From mouthpiece to Party’s propaganda incorporation: The evolution of Chinese Party-press, In The Chinese media: A new perspective, edited by Z. He & H. Chen, 66-107. Hong Kong: The Pacific Century Press Limited (in Chinese).
Henri, B. [1896] (1991) Matter and Memory. Translated by N. M. Paul & W. S. Palmer. New York: Zone Books.
Huang, G. (2006). Comrade Lei Feng: No longer a God to worship. Southern Personality Weekly, 32(1).
Huyssen, A. (2000). Present pasts: Media, politics, amnesia. Public Culture, 12, 21–38.
https://doi.org/10.1215/08992363-12-1-21
Introduction Material distributed by Lei Feng museum. Retrieved on December 10, 2008 from: http://www.china5000.org.cn/ chinese/zhonghuarenwu/200803/t20080305_61898.htm.
Knapp, S. (1989). Collective Memory and the Actual Past. Representation, 26: 21-34.
Laclau, E. (1990). New Reflections on the Revolution of Our Time, London: Verso.
Lang, K., & Lang, G. E. (1989). Collective Memory and the News. Communication, 11, 123-139.
Lee, C. (2004). The concept of Chinese journalists: Ideological convergence and contestation. Perspectives: Working papers in English and Communication, 16(1), 1-23.
Lei, F. (1963). Diary of Comrade Lei Feng. Beijing: Chinese Army Arts Press.
Matt, C. (2010). Embodying deep throat: Mark felt and the collective memory of Watergate. Critical Studies in Media Communication, 27(3), 235-250.
https://doi.org/10.1080/15295030903583564
Matt, C. (2007). Making memories matter: Journalistic authority and the memorializing discourse around Mary McGrory and David Brinkley. Journalism, 8(2), 165-183.
https://doi.org/10.1177/1464884907074804
Mead, G. Herbert. 1929. “The nature of the past”. In Essays in Honor of John Dewey, edited by John Coss, 235-242. New York: Henry Holt.
Nico, C. (2007). Participation, access and interaction: Changing perspectives. In New media worlds: Challenges for convergence, edited by V. Nightingale & T. Dwyer, 214–230. South Melbourne: Oxford University Press.
Nora, P. (1996). General Introduction: Between Memory and History. In Realms of Memory: Rethinking the French Past, edited by Lawrence, Kritzman, New York: Columbia University Press.
Nora, P. (1989). Between memory and history: Les Lieux de M’emoire.” Representations, 26, 7-25.
https://doi.org/10.2307/2928520
Olick, K. J. (1999). Collective memory: The two cultures. Sociological Theories, 17(3), 23-45.
https://doi.org/10.1111/0735-2751.00083
Olick, K. J., & Robbins, J. (1998). Social Memory Studies: From Collective Memory to the Historical Sociology of Mnemonic Practices. Annual Review of Sociology, 24, 105-140.
https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev.soc.24.1.105
Pan, Z. (2000). Improvising reform activities: Interpreting China's journalism reforms. In Power, Money, and Media: Communication Patterns in Cultural China, edited by C. Lee, 68-111. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press.
Pan, Z., & Chan, J. (2000). Building a market-based party organ: Television and national integration in the People’s Republic of China”. In Television in Asia edited by D. French and M. Richards, 232-263. New Delhi: Sage.
Peri, Y. (1999). The Media and Collective Memory of Yitzhak Rabin’s Remembrance. Journal of Communication, 49(3), 106-124.
https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1460-2466.1999.tb02807.x
Schudson, M. (1989). The present in the past versus the past in the present. Communication, 11(2), 105-113.
Schwartz, B. (1982). The social context of commemoration: A study in collective memory. Social Forces, 61(2), 34-64.
https://doi.org/10.1093/sf/61.2.374
Schwartz, B. (1991). Iconography and collective memory: Lincoln’s image in the American mind. The Sociological Quarterly, 32(3), 301-319.
https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1533-8525.1991.tb00161.x
Schwartz, B. (2005). History, Commemoration, and Belief: Abraham Lincoln in American Memory, 1945-2001, American Sociological Review, 70 (2), 183-203.
https://doi.org/10.1177/000312240507000201
Sun, X. (1996). How Mao Zedong talked about Comrade Lei Feng. Journal of Mao Zedong Research, 12(1), 23-35.
Trouillot, R. M. (1995). Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History. Boston: Beacon.
Wodak, R., & Meyer, M. (2001). Methods of Critical Discourse Analysis. London, Thousand Oaks, New Delhi: Sage.
https://doi.org/10.4135/9780857028020
Wodak, R. R., Cillia, D., Reisiql, M., & Liebhart, K. (1999). The Discursive Construction of National Identity. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
Wulf, K. (2002). Finding meaning in memory: A methodological critique of collective memory studies. History and Theory 41, 179-197.
https://doi.org/10.1111/0018-2656.00198
Xin, Y. (2010) The growing pains of kaixin001.com. 21 Century Economic Review, retrieved in August, 2011 from:http://www.21cbh.com/HTML/2010-8-16/0NMDAwMDE5MjA0Ng.html.
Zarecka, I. (1994). Frames of remembrance. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers.
Zelizer, B. (1995). Reading the past against the grain: the shape of memory studies. Critical Study of Mass Communication, 12(1), 214-239.
Zelizer, B. (2008). Why memory’s work on journalism does not reflect journalism’s work on memory. Memory Studies, 1(1), 79-87.
https://doi.org/10.1177/1750698007083891
Zhang, J. (2006). Comrade Lei Feng: 1940-1962. Beijing: San Lian Press.

Downloads

Published

2018-12-31

Issue

Section

Articles