Alternative Spirituality and Religion Review

Volume 8, Issue 2, 2017

Special Issue on Falun Gong and the Media

James R. LewisOrcid-ID, Nicole S. Ruskell
Pages 219-236

Innocent Victims of Chinese Oppression, or Media Bullies? Analyzing Falun Gong’s Media Strategies

It is a well-established fact that most new, non-traditional religious groups are treated negatively in the mass media. However, Falun Gong, the qi gong group that was banned in China in 1999, is a marked exception to this general tendency. Why should this be the case? In the present paper, we examine the various factors that combine to make Falun Gong the exception to the rule. We also call attention to this organization’s pattern of attacking critics, as well as their pattern of attacking anyone who offers an interpretation of events that is at odds with Falun Gong’s interpretation. However, this heavy-handed tactic has the potential to backfire, and to prompt the media to reperceive them as a bully rather than as an innocent victim.