Enter the lamb warriors

“Liberal media can try to point out China’s own poor record on racial equality and religious freedom, but this can be dismissed as whataboutism.”

The propaganda battle between the United States and China will be reminiscent of the Cold War decades ago, except that this time, liberal media will be weaker and more divided.

Patriotic Chinese citizens will draw encouragement from how America’s woke generation is putting traditional liberals on the defensive. Embarrassed by the unsophisticated methods of the Communist Party’s Propaganda Department and wolf warrior diplomats, young Chinese will construct a new soft power rhetorical strategy around the language of victimhood and social justice. When American commentators point fingers at China’s lack of democracy and human rights, the new lamb warriors will simply ask the Americans to check their white privilege and cease with the micro-aggressions.

They will remind the world how the West crushed their forefathers in a Century of Humiliation, and how racism continues to rob Chinese of their dignity. They will declare that Americans cannot speak for global justice and human rights, because as citizens of a superpower, they lack the lived experience of intersecting oppression. Liberal media can try to point out China’s own poor record on racial equality and religious freedom, but this will be dismissed as whataboutism.

Anyway, a post-truth world is quite comfortable with moral contradictions, so the lamb warrior strategy should be enough to throw liberal media off-balance until 2022.

Cherian George is professor of media studies at Hong Kong Baptist University.

The propaganda battle between the United States and China will be reminiscent of the Cold War decades ago, except that this time, liberal media will be weaker and more divided.

Patriotic Chinese citizens will draw encouragement from how America’s woke generation is putting traditional liberals on the defensive. Embarrassed by the unsophisticated methods of the Communist Party’s Propaganda Department and wolf warrior diplomats, young Chinese will construct a new soft power rhetorical strategy around the language of victimhood and social justice. When American commentators point fingers at China’s lack of democracy and human rights, the new lamb warriors will simply ask the Americans to check their white privilege and cease with the micro-aggressions.

They will remind the world how the West crushed their forefathers in a Century of Humiliation, and how racism continues to rob Chinese of their dignity. They will declare that Americans cannot speak for global justice and human rights, because as citizens of a superpower, they lack the lived experience of intersecting oppression. Liberal media can try to point out China’s own poor record on racial equality and religious freedom, but this will be dismissed as whataboutism.

Anyway, a post-truth world is quite comfortable with moral contradictions, so the lamb warrior strategy should be enough to throw liberal media off-balance until 2022.

Cherian George is professor of media studies at Hong Kong Baptist University.

Benjamin Toff   Beltway reporting gets normal again, for better and for worse

Rishad Patel   From direct-to-consumer to direct-to-believers

Sara M. Watson   Return of the RSS reader

Tauhid Chappell and Mike Rispoli   Defund the crime beat

Francesca Tripodi   Don’t expect breaking up Google and Facebook to solve our information woes

Aaron Foley   Diversity gains haven’t shown up in local news

Raney Aronson-Rath   To get past information divides, we need to understand them first

Ben Collins   We need to learn how to talk to (and about) accidental conspiracists

Joshua Darr   Legislatures will tackle the local news crisis

C.W. Anderson   Journalism changed under Trump — will it keep changing under Biden?

Pablo Boczkowski   Audiences have revolted. Will newsrooms adapt?

Stefanie Murray and Anthony Advincula   Expect to see more translations and non-English content

Rachel Schallom   The rise of nonprofit journalism continues

Tim Carmody   Spotify will make big waves in video

Errin Haines   Let’s normalize women’s leadership

Jacqué Palmer   The rise of the plain-text email newsletter

Astead W. Herndon   The Trump-sized window of the media caring about race closes again

John Ketchum   More journalists of color become newsroom founders

Chase Davis   The year we look beyond The Story

Julia B. Chan and Kim Bui   Millennials are ready to run things

An Xiao Mina   2020 isn’t a black swan — it’s a yellow canary

Jennifer Brandel   A sneak peak at power mapping, 2073’s top innovation

Cory Bergman   The year after a thousand earthquakes

Charo Henríquez   A new path to leadership

Cory Haik   Be essential

Joni Deutsch   Local arts and music make journalism more joyous

Mike Caulfield   2021’s misinformation will look a lot like 2020’s (and 2019’s, and…)

Sonali Prasad   Making disaster journalism that cuts through the noise

Nikki Usher   Don’t expect an antitrust dividend for the media

Delia Cai   Subscriptions start working for the middle

José Zamora   Walking the talk on diversity

Ståle Grut   Network analysis enters the journalism toolbox

John Garrett   A surprisingly good year

Heidi Tworek   A year of news mocktails

Anthony Nadler   Journalism struggles to find a new model of legitimacy

Talmon Joseph Smith   The media rejects deficit hawkery

María Sánchez Díez   Traffic will plummet — and it’ll be ok

james Wahutu   Journalists still wrongly think the U.S. is different

Alyssa Zeisler   Holistic medicine for journalism

Cherian George   Enter the lamb warriors

Jennifer Choi   What have we done for you lately?

Garance Franke-Ruta   Rebundling content, rebuilding connections

Parker Molloy   The press will risk elevating a Shadow President Trump

Alfred Hermida and Oscar Westlund   The virus ups data journalism’s game

John Saroff   Covid sparks the growth of independent local news sites

Sarah Stonbely   Videoconferencing brings more geographic diversity

Rasmus Kleis Nielsen   Stop pretending publishers are a united front

Ashton Lattimore   Remote work helps level the playing field in an insular industry

Meredith D. Clark   The year journalism starts paying reparations

Tamar Charney   Public radio has a midlife crisis

Kevin D. Grant   Parachute journalism goes away for good

Victor Pickard   The commercial era for local journalism is over

Nicholas Jackson   Blogging is back, but better

Beena Raghavendran   Journalism gets fused with art

Zainab Khan   From understanding to feeling

Andrew Donohue   The rise of the democracy beat

Steve Henn   Has independent podcasting peaked?

Mandy Jenkins   You build trust by helping your readers

Logan Jaffe   History as a reporting tool

Ben Werdmuller   The web blooms again

Candis Callison   Calling it a crisis isn’t enough (if it ever was)

Burt Herman   Journalists build post-Facebook digital communities

Kristen Muller   Engaged journalism scales

Natalie Meade   Journalism enters rehab

Tanya Cordrey   Declining trust forces publishers to claim (or disclaim) values

Ray Soto   The news gets spatial

Jim Friedlich   A newspaper renaissance reached by stopping the presses

Don Day   Business first, journalism second

Mariano Blejman   It’s time to challenge autocompleted journalism

Taylor Lorenz   Journalists will learn influencing isn’t easy

Rick Berke   Virtual events are here to stay

Nico Gendron   Ask your readers to help build your products

Chicas Poderosas   More voices mean better information

Imaeyen Ibanga   Journalism gets unmasked

Mark S. Luckie   Newsrooms and streaming services get cozy

Annie Rudd   Newsrooms grow less comfortable with the “view from above”

Hadjar Benmiloud   Get representative, or die trying

David Chavern   Local video finally gets momentum

Nabiha Syed   Newsrooms quit their toxic relationships

Christoph Mergerson   Black Americans will demand more from journalism

Jeremy Gilbert   Human-centered journalism

Kerri Hoffman   Protecting podcasting’s open ecosystem

Ariel Zirulnick   Local newsrooms question their paywalls

Laura E. Davis   The focus turns to newsroom leaders for lasting change

Eric Nuzum   Podcasting dodged a bullet in 2020, but 2021 will be harder

Gabe Schneider   Another year of empty promises on diversity

Doris Truong   Indigenous issues get long-overdue mainstream coverage

Ryan Kellett   The bundle gets bundled

Patrick Butler   Covid-19 reporting has prepared us for cross-border collaboration

Celeste Headlee   The rise of radical newsroom transparency

Jonas Kaiser   Toward a wehrhafte journalism

Bill Adair   The future of fact-checking is all about structured data

Tshepo Tshabalala   Go niche

Francesco Zaffarano   The year we ask the audience what it needs

M. Scott Havens   Traditional pay TV will embrace the disruption

Catalina Albeanu   Publish less, listen more

Sumi Aggarwal   News literacy programs aren’t child’s play

Shaydanay Urbani and Nancy Watzman   Local collaboration is key to slowing misinformation

Hossein Derakhshan   Mass personalization of truth

Linda Solomon Wood   Canada steps up for journalism

Rachel Glickhouse   Journalists will be kinder to each other — and to themselves

Moreno Cruz Osório   In Brazil, a push for pluralism

L. Gordon Crovitz   Common law will finally apply to the Internet

Nisha Chittal   The year we stop pivoting

Sam Ford   We’ll find better ways to archive our work

Jesse Holcomb   Genre erosion in nonprofit journalism

Michael W. Wagner   Fractured democracy, fractured journalism

Megan McCarthy   Readers embrace a low-information diet

Bo Hee Kim   Newsrooms create an intentional and collaborative culture

Ariane Bernard   Going solo is still only a path for the few

Colleen Shalby   The definition of good journalism shifts

Sue Cross   A global consensus around the kind of news we need to save

Kawandeep Virdee   Goodbye, doomscroll

Matt Skibinski   Misinformation won’t stop unless we stop it

Edward Roussel   Tech companies get aggressive in local

Loretta Chao   Open up the profession

Whitney Phillips   Facts are an insufficient response to falsehoods

Rodney Gibbs   Zooming beyond talking heads

Masuma Ahuja   We’ll remember how interconnected our world is

Jer Thorp   Fewer pixels, more cardboard

Marcus Mabry   News orgs adapt to a post-Trump world (with Trump still in it)

Richard J. Tofel   Less on politics, more on how government works (or doesn’t)

Basile Simon   Graphics, unite

Mark Stenberg   The rise of the journalist-influencer

Cindy Royal   J-school grads maintain their optimism and adaptability

Nonny de la Pena   News reaches the third dimension

Julia Angwin   Show your (computational) work

Joanne McNeil   Newsrooms push back against Ivy League cronyism

A.J. Bauer   The year of MAGAcal thinking

Matt DeRienzo   Citizen truth brigades steer us back toward reality

Anna Nirmala   Local news orgs grasp the urgency of community roots

Danielle C. Belton   A decimated media rededicates itself to truth

Jean Friedman-Rudovsky and Cassie Haynes   A shift from conversation to action

Alicia Bell and Simon Galperin   Media reparations now

Juleyka Lantigua-Williams   The download, podcasting’s metric king, gets dethroned

Mike Ananny   Toward better tech journalism

Jessica Clark   News becomes plural

Renée Kaplan   Falling in love with your subscription

Amara Aguilar   Journalism schools emphasize listening

Kate Myers   My son will join every Zoom call in our industry

Pia Frey   Building growth through tastemakers and their communities

Gonzalo del Peon   Collaborations expand from newsrooms to the business side

Andrew Ramsammy   Stop being polite and start getting real

John Davidow   Reflect and repent

Samantha Ragland   The year of journalists taking initiative

Janet Haven and Sam Hinds   Is this an AI newsroom?

David Skok   A pandemic-prompted wave of consolidation

Marissa Evans   Putting community trauma into context

Marie Shanahan   Journalism schools stop perpetuating the status quo

Sarah Marshall   The year audiences need extra cheer

Ernie Smith   Entrepreneurship on rails

Brandy Zadrozny   Misinformation fatigue sets in

Jody Brannon   People won’t renew

Zizi Papacharissi   The year we rebuild the infrastructure of truth

Robert Hernandez   Data and shame

Brian Moritz   The year sports journalism changes for good

Tonya Mosley   True equity means ownership