PD: You are just a mouthpiece

Written by Julen Madariaga on December 18th, 2008

I love the way Xinhua refers to the People’s Daily as a “mouthpiece newspaper”, or “the mouthpiece of the ruling party”. For example, in this otherwise boring article that I just read. Recommended if you need to doze off for a quick siesta.

I find all this mouthpiece thing funny in 3 different ways, which I list below:

  • It looks like an effort by Xinhua to position itself as an independent source, copying a commonly used expression by the media worldwide, and differentiating itself from the “mouthpiece”. A new variation on the good cop and the bad cop.
  • I always understood this word as having negative connotations, and I am surprised every time I see journalists using it in the neutral sense of spokesperson. In any case, speaking of a newspaper the phrase “mouthpiece of the ruling party” normally implies disapproval. I wonder if the editors at Xinhua are conscious of this. Xinhua, watch your steps, this is a 贬义词!(negative word).
  • I am also wondering if the People’s Daily knows this and when will it start a feud with Xinhua accusing it of mouthpiece too. After all, a large part of the articles that People Daily publishes are taken directly from Xinhua, including some of those containing the M word!

On second thought, I guess “mouthpiece” is probably a great thing to be called when you are an editor at the People’s. It is extra points with your boss and it works to keep your iron bowl in good shape.

Sharing is free, support my work:

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Haohao
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • LinkedIn
  • Netvibes
  • Reddit
  • Posterous
  • Live
  • QQ书签
  • MSN Reporter
  • 豆瓣
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • MySpace
  • FriendFeed
  • Print

Comments so far ↓

  1. Dec

    Does Xinhua refer to itself as a mouthpiece.

    [Reply to this comment]

  2. Dec

    Not as far as I know. Then again, normally newspapers don’t use nicknames to call themselves.

    I read Xinhua a lot and the impression I get is they try to give an image of respectable worldwide Press Agency. It is true that they don’t usually state their independence, but they don’t state their obvious dependence either.

    Check out these “Main Concepts” from their website:

    “We cherish the following concepts:
    *Keeping pace with the times and striving for excellence
    *Scaling new heights in online news reporting
    *Bearing in mind our social responsibilities
    *Publicizing China and reporting the world
    *Soliciting professionals and tapping employees’ potential
    *Seizing opportunities and meeting challenges
    *Encouraging innovations and forging ahead in competition”

    [Reply to this comment]

  3. Dec

    Hey, wait a sec, I just checked quickly on the Chinese version of Xinhua and the “About Us” Section is completely different to the English one. They seem less reluctant to admit their ties to the party here. This is one of the funny texts that you find (rough translation):


    Leaders Loving Care
    Xinhua has rapidly and soundly developed in loving care of the Party’s Central Committee and the State Council, in the central department in charge of the kind guidance, in the strong leadership of the Party Group of Xinhua News Agency …etc.

    Brilliant! I should do a post about this.

    [Reply to this comment]

  4. Dec

    I guess the original word is “喉舌”, and I find it strange too that the state media is OK with it, if not proud of it.

    The Central Propaganda Department (中宣部), which controls all media in China, has only very recently changed it’s official English name to Central Publicity Department.

    The word “propaganda” (宣传) is still a very popular word in China. In university, if you served in a propaganda department under the student council, you usually can’t wait to put that on your resume.

    BTW, nice blog!

    [Reply to this comment]

Leave a Comment

2 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. Listening to His Master’s Voice | CHINAYOUREN
  2. The Time of Han Han | CHINAYOUREN