“Two Newspapers and One Magazine”, a media term inseparable from China’s newspaper culture before reform and opening, refers to the three most influential publications in China during the Cultural Revolution: People’s Daily, People’s Liberation Daily and Hongqi Magazine (renamed Qiushi Magazine in 1988). These three publications were used to deliver the latest ideological messages from Chairman Mao Zedong (毛泽东). The editorials appearing in the publications (which were all identical!) were regarded as the loftiest guides for Communist Party behavior and the unification of public opinion.

On May 31, 1966, the leader of Central Cultural Revolution Division, Mao supporter Chen Boda (陈伯达) took control of People’s Daily and refashioned it as a tool for Cultural Revolution propaganda. On June 1, People’s Daily printed an editorial called “Destroy all Evils” (横扫一切牛鬼蛇神), which sought to rally the support of the whole nation in carrying out a Cultural Revolution and the moving against “rightist” elements (those opposed to the policies of Mao Zedong). Chen’s team later gained control of People’s Liberation Daily and Hongqi Magazine, completing the so-called “Two Newspapers, One Magazine” propaganda machine, which became the principal force guiding all mass media in China.

By the end of 1966, after the publication of tirade called “Complete the Revolution on the Frontlines of Journalism” (把新闻战线的革命进行到底), a great number of newspapers had been shut down and those remaining fashioned into tools for promoting the Party ideology.

Aside from issuing the latest policies and messages about official movements, the editorials and comments issued by the “Two Newspapers and One Magazine” reinforced the cult of Chairman Mao. They includes slogans like “Long live the People’s Republic!” and sayings from Mao’s red book. Other newspapers sheepishly followed these three, mimicking not only their content but also their size, fonts and layout.

After the death of Mao on Sept 9, 1976, the Gang of Four ran the Chairman’s “dying words” – “Stay the course” (按既定方针办事) — in the editorials of the “Two Newspapers and One Magazine”. This was an attempt by the gang to further legitimize their powers in Mao’s absence.

When the Gang of Four fell on October 25, 1976, it was once again the “Two Newspapers and One Magazine” that announced “A Great and Historic Victory” (伟大的历史性胜利) and defined the new direction of the Party and the nation.

People’s Daily remains the official newspaper of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party. It is still regarded as the principle mouthpiece of China’s top leaders.

People’s Liberation Daily, the official newspaper of the Central Military Commission, released its first issue on January 1, 1956.

Hongqi Magazine began publication as a central theoretical magazine during the Great Leap Forward in 1958. Its last issue was released on June 15, 1988. Less than one month later, the magazine was re-launched as Qiushi Magazine.

Additional Resources:
Hu Xingrong (胡兴荣), “The Era of Great Newspapers” (大报纸时代)

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