My Taiwanese and Chinese labmates were recently discussing the events of Tiananmen Square and noted that mentions of the protest and the date 6/4 are typically scrubbed in China. Growing up in the United States, I have, of course, heard about Tiananmen Square, but I was very young in 1989 and certainly don't remember it "live." What about you?
The protests generated unparalleled international coverage, and became a defining moment in the Information Age. It was the first time a popular uprising in an authoritarian state was broadcast live across the globe.
According to Bernard Shaw, who anchored CNN's live round-the-clock coverage from Beijing for much of the crisis: "You could say that that was the beginning of the 'CNN effect'" -- the idea, which became widespread after Tiananmen Square, that the immediacy of live TV news available 24 hours a day played a crucial role in influencing the behavior of key players during major crises.
The images from that time -- the Goddess of Democracy, the man in front of the tank -- became enduring symbols of popular resistance to injustice.
In the United States, the coverage of Tiananmen redefined the relationship between the press, public opinion, and foreign policy-making, and brought an end to the romance in Sino-American relations that had begun with Richard Nixon's trip in 1972.
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