Department of Journalism
The strategic ritual of irony: Post-Tiananmen China as seen through the ‘Personalized Journalism’ of elite US correspondents
© The Author(s) 2015. Inspired by Tuchman’s concept of the ‘strategic ritual of objectivity’, we argue that journalists employ what can be called the ‘strategic ritual of irony’ in their accounts to convey moral stance toward morally ‘tainted’ stories, often under the façade of objectivity. Systematic reading of American journalists’ memoirs and writings reveals that their portrayals of post-1989 China, against the tragic background of the Tiananmen crackdown, habitually resorted to two genres of irony – situational irony and verbal irony – to express their disdain for an emerging moral vacuum in contemporary China. The injection of irony, in the form of objectivity, distances journalists from the ‘tainted’ targets they cover and hence protects their own professional reputation.
expression of moral disdain, irony, objectivity, personalized journalism, strategic ritual, US correspondents
Source Publication Title
Media, Culture and Society
Link to Publisher's Edition
Song, Y., & Lee, C. (2015). The strategic ritual of irony: Post-Tiananmen China as seen through the ‘Personalized Journalism’ of elite US correspondents. Media, Culture and Society, 37 (8), 1176-1192. https://doi.org/10.1177/0163443715591673