Media Politics in China: Improvising Power Under Authoritarianism

February 6, 2018 1:00 pm - 1:50 pm


1255 Amsterdam Avenue, New York, NY 10027


Who watches over the party-state? In her new book Media Politics in China (CUP, June 2017), media scholar Maria Repnikova reveals the webs of an uneasy partnership between critical journalists and the state in China. More than merely a passive mouthpiece or a dissident voice, the media in China also plays a critical oversight role, one more frequently associated with liberal democracies than with authoritarian systems. Chinese central officials cautiously endorse media supervision as a feedback mechanism, as journalists carve out space for critical reporting by positioning themselves as aiding the agenda of the central state. Drawing on rare access in the field, the book examines the process of guarded improvisation that has defined this volatile partnership over the past decade on a routine basis and in the aftermath of major crisis events. Combined with a comparative analysis of media politics in the Soviet Union and contemporary Russia, the analysis highlights the distinctiveness of Chinese journalist-state relations, as well as the renewed pressures facing them in the Xi era.


Maria Repnikova, PhD, is a scholar of political communication in illiberal contexts, with a focus on Chinese media politics. She is currently an assistant professor of Global Communication and a director of the Center for Global Information Studies at Georgia State University. Maria’s work examines critical journalism, political propaganda, cyber nationalism, and global media branding in China. Her work appears frequently in China Quarterly, New Media & Society, Journal of Contemporary China, as well as Foreign Affairs and Foreign Policy, amongst other venues. Her book, Media Politics in China: Improvising Power Under Authoritarianism, just came out with Cambridge University Press. In the past, Maria was a post-doctoral fellow at the Annenberg School for Communication. Maria holds a PhD in Politics from Oxford University, where she was a Rhodes Scholar.


Dr. Repnikova is kindly sharing her Powerpoint slides for the Livestream audience: download here (PDF: 38 pages).