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Global Media Spectacle

News War over Hong Kong

Chin-Chuan Lee, Joseph Man Chan, Zhongdang Pan

Publication Year: 2002

Focusing on the global media coverage of Hong Kong’s transfer from Britain to China, Global Media Spectacle explores how the world media plan, operate, compete, and produce a historical record during significant global events. The authors interviewed seventy-six print and television reporters from the United States, Britain, the People’s Republic of China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Australia, Canada, and Japan to delve into the revealing world of writing first drafts of history from reporters’ vantage points. Punctuated with witty and incisive examples, the book provides a useful description of contestation and alliance, themes and variations, and convergence and divergence between and within various blocs of nations.

Published by: State University of New York Press

Series: SUNY series in Global Media Studies

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. iii-v


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pp. vii

Figures and Tables

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pp. ix-x

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pp. xi-xiv

If journalists are said to write the first draft of history, what kind of a history will they be writing in the age of globalized media? Does this history appear to be littered with contrived images and dramas, hyped media events, and ideologically soaked catchy phrases? All global news is local...


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pp. xv-xvi

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Chapter 1. Global Event, National Prisms

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pp. 1-20

It is often claimed that media discourse represents "a site of symbolic struggle," but what are the processes, significance, and limits of that struggle? As a global "media event"(Dayan and Katz, 1992), the transfer of Hong Kong from British to Chinese sovereignty on July 1, 1997 provides such a site and moment for opposing...

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Chapter 2. News Staging

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pp. 21-40

International journalism is performed on a local-cum-world stage. In the literal sense, the handover of Hong Kong's sovereignty takes place at a specific time and place. The date of July 1, 1997 was in a way set in 1842 by the Nanjing Treaty and rectified in 1982 by the Sino-British Joint Declaration. The official site makes Hong Kong a stage for the Chinese and British leaders...

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Chapter 3. Domestication of Global News

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pp. 41-62

Newsweek produces a cover story on Hong Kong, as the handover approaches. The international issue is a "souvenir issue"whose cover portrays Hong Kong as a "Land of Survivors" against the backdrop of its towering skyscrapers, but the U.S. edition features the face of a female model blindfolded with a red ribbon...

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Chapter 4. Hyping and Repairing News Paradigms

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pp. 63-84

We live in the age of live television and a world of "hyped" media reality. Our cognitive and emotional experiences have been shaped and changed by media spectacles: popular uprisings against the Communist regimes, televised wars, "live" TV handshakes between enemy leaders, moon landings, and so on (Dayan and Katz, 1992)...

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Chapter 5. Banging the Democracy Drum: From the Superpower

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pp. 85-108

In the era of "high modernism," Hallin (1994) argues, American journalism domestically followed the New Deal liberal policies and defined foreign policy in terms of bipartisan consensus on Cold War containment. Has the era of "high modernism" indeed passed as he claims? As far as the transfer of Hong Kong from British to Chinese sovereignty...

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Chapter 6. Essentializing Colonialism: Heroes and Villains [Contains Image Plates]

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pp. 109-126

Great Britain lost its first colony with the American Revolution in 1776 and may have lost its empire with India's independence in 1947. Even so, turning over the "capitalist jewel" of Hong Kong (as the media call it) to Communist China in 1997--eight years after the crumbling of the Berlin Wall--symbolizes the end of global colonialism...

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Chapter 7. Defining the Nation-State: One Event, Three Stories

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pp. 127-150

The handover of Hong Kong strikes different chords in the conscience of the three Chinese societies: the People's Republic of China (PRC), the Republic of China (ROC) in Taiwan, and Hong Kong itself. It raises core issues about the meanings of China and Chinese as well as the relationships between a nation and a state...

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Chapter 8. Human Rights and National Interest: From the Middle Powers

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pp. 151-168

For almost 50 years the Cold War framework has provided an easy and simplified formula to look at the world. With the end of the Cold War, a veteran journalist contends that we have lost "the clarity of our coverage" and "the strategic imperative" (quoted in Freedom Forum, 1993: 47). According to Wallerstein...

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Chapter 9. Media Event as Global Discursive Contestation

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pp. 169-188

By any yardstick, a world of 8,000 news hunters has created a big "media spectacle" in a faraway small island of Hong Kong, a ritualized media performance for the consumption of a global audience from Vermont to Sydney, from Shanghai to Liverpool, or from Hong Kong to Vancouver. Globalization touches our everyday lives in so many ways...

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Epilogue: After the Handover

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pp. 189-198

Now Hong Kong is China's, not Britain's. "Hong Kong loses its uniqueness (after the handover) and will be treated as part of the larger China story," as Dorinda Elliot of Newsweek prognosticated several days after the fatigue of the "handover hysteria" in 1997. "It will be difficult to keep Hong Kong news...

Appendix I. Sampled Media Organizations

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pp. 199-204

Appendix II. Interviewees

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pp. 205-208

Appendix III. Guideline for Interview

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pp. 209-214

Appendix IV. Content Analysis

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pp. 215-220

Appendix V. Coding Scheme

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pp. 221-222


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pp. 223-228


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pp. 229-244


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pp. 245-246


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pp. 247-254

E-ISBN-13: 9780791488164
Print-ISBN-13: 9780791454718
Print-ISBN-10: 0791454711

Page Count: 254
Illustrations: 19 b/w photographs, 16 tables, 1 figure
Publication Year: 2002

Series Title: SUNY series in Global Media Studies

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Reporters and reporting.
  • Hong Kong (China) -- History -- Transfer of Sovereignty from Great Britain, 1997.
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