Mike Chinoy: Assignment China

15 June 2011

Co-presented with Sydney Ideas

For over sixty years, reporting by a handful of American journalists has shaped global perceptions of China. Covering China has long been one of the most difficult assignments in journalism. It is also one of the most important.

Former CNN Asia correspondent Mike Chinoy, now a Senior Fellow at the US-China Institute at the University of Southern California, has gathered the perceptions, experiences and insights of these correspondents inAssignment: China, a fascinating seven-part documentary film series.

Join us for a preview of two of those segments, one focusing on the American correspondents who covered the Chinese civil war from 1945-49, the other looking at the first generation of U.S. reporters allowed to open news bureaus in Beijing after the normalization of Sino-American relations in 1979.

After the screening, Mike Chinoy, who spent eight years as CNN's first Beijing bureau chief, will share with us some of his own experiences as a Beijing correspondent, and answer questions about both the film and current affairs in China. He will be in discussion with a panel of local China watchers including:

  • Rowan Callick, Asia-Pacific editor The Australian newspaper
  • Wanning Sun, Professor of Chinese Media and Cultural Studies at China Research Centre, UTS
  • Chaired by David Goodman, Professor of Chinese Politics, University of Sydney

The reporters whose stories are told in the two episodes Mike will screen are legendary figures in the world of journalism. They include:

-Seymour Topping, who covered the Chinese civil war for the Associated Press and later became Managing Editor of the New York Times

-Roy Rowan, who was Life magazine's Shanghai correspondent from 1947-49

-John Roderick, who covered China for the Associated Press from 1945-48, including seven months in Yenan with Communist leaders, and later returned to reopen the AP bureau in Beijing in 1979

-Annalee Jacoby, who covered China in the mid-1940s for Time and was the co-author, with Theodore White, of the acclaimed book Thunder Out of China

-Henry Lieberman, who was the New York Times China correspondent from 1945-49

-Doak Barnett, who reported from China for the Chicago Daily News from 1947-49

Among the others who feature in the documentary are virtually all the journalists who opened the first U.S. news bureaus after normalization in 1979:

-Richard Bernstein (Time)

-Fox Butterfield (The New York Times)

-Frank Ching (The Wall Street Journal)

-Bruce Dunning (CBS News)

-Sandy Gilmour (NBC News)

-Jim Laurie (ABC News)

-Melinda Liu (Newsweek)

-Jay Matthews (The Washington Post)

-Linda Mathews, (Los Angeles Times)

Described by the Washington Post's current Beijing correspondent Keith Richburg as "a must-see for anyone interested in the media, China, or both," by former CBS News anchor Dan Rather as a "great project", and by former U.S. Ambassador to China Winston Lord as "invaluable for classroom use and more broadly for the general public," Assignment: China offers a rare - and entertaining - glimpse of some crucial moments in the history of journalism and China.

Time: 5.30 to 8.00pm (screening 5.30 to 7.00 then panel discussion until 8pm) Refreshments provided.

Location: Law School Foyer, the University of Sydney

Cost: Free