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Every journalist is walking on a fault line — of unresolved and ambivalent historic situations — trying to represent it some way in words. It is probably the essence of the journalistic profession … that reporters deal with ambivalent situations where the outcome is uncertain, the values are mixed, and the sides are in conflict.

Pankaj Mishra quotes historian John K. Fairbank in his introduction to Chinese Characters. Mishra continues:

This has never been as true as it is in the case of today’s mercurial China. And, it’s not an exaggeration to say that only journalism that aspires to the condition of literature can do justice to contemporary China: a mode of writing that creates in its readers not certainty of any kind but a profound sense of the ambiguity and irony inherent in human desires and aspirations.

Read his introduction in the Los Angeles Review of Books: “A Storm Of Change: The Journalism Of China’s Growth”