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As populism is rising on a global level, Books & Ideas offers a series on media politics in East Asian countries, to be published over the next two weeks. Though situations are extremely diverse, they can teach us a lot on the relationship between the state and journalists in authoritarian contexts. What role is left for the media to play in non-democracies?

The study of East Asian practices, which are extremely diverse, can teach us a lot on media and their role in the global rise of populists and the decline of democracy. Functioning democracies cannot exist without quality media as they are a vital force in keeping the concerns of the many in the field of vision of the governing few. What happens when they don’t achieve this goal? And what happens in case of dysfunction or non-democracy? Can journalists be simply represented as non-reflective allies of the state? In all contexts, people’s political perceptions, mental pictures of events and policy problems, and images of political institutions and leaders, stem largely from what they see and hear through the news media as well as social media.

The Chinese case informs us on the role journalists endorse in resilient authoritarian contexts. The evolution of media policy in Myanmar since the regime reform started gives us an insight into questions of censorship and media privatization in transitional cases. The comparative study of media oligarchs in Indonesia and the Philippines in the social media era demonstrates that social media have successfully weakened powerful media owners, but not in the way democratic reformers have hoped, which is relevant teaching beyond the Asian context.

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by Émilie Frenkiel, 23 September

Further reading

Sincere thanks to Chloé Baills, whose contribution allowed this special issue to exist.

To quote this article :

Émilie Frenkiel, « Journalism and Media Politics in Asia », Books and Ideas , 23 September 2019. ISSN : 2105-3030. URL : http://www.booksandideas.net/Journalism-and-Media-Politics-in-Asia.html

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