This Could Just Possibly Complicate My Life Here in China

By James Fallows

From the Atlantic's home page right now, as I see it on coming back to the apartment in Beijing after an interview.

The title, produced by an algorithm showing the most recent post in each of the channels, is drawn from another (very nice) guest post from another (wonderful) guest blogger, former judge and one-time CIA contractor Glenna Hall. And because the guest posts are appearing in a space I normally occupy, their headlines show up under my name and benevolent gaze.

But in case this refinement escapes any officials now checking our site from China or elsewhere -- including the guy I interviewed two days ago at a government office in Beijing who leafed through reams of print-outs from the Atlantic's site as we talked -- this does not mean that I have ever in any way had any connection with America's intelligence agencies. Because I haven't! Just for the record. 

In my cover story* long article about Learning to Love Infotainment, in the current issue (订阅!**), I quote Nick Denton's axiom that web headlines need to be as literal as possible: "The public is not very forgiving of wit in headlines." This principle has new meaning for me now! I'm putting up this post so it will appear in the next batch of print-outs -- and so it will push the preceding article out of the "most recent headline" spot in the queue...
* Ooops! On reflection, "cover story" is not the mot juste here.

** Sorry, was being cutesy with the Chinese characters for "subscribe!", but on some browsers they seem not to survive the journey.
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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.


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