The Me long as an Example of the Formation of a Tibetan-Language Press


Anna Sawerthal

  • Betreuung Klaus-Dieter Mathes

Up until the beginning of the 20th century there was no such thing as "press" in the Tibetan-speaking world. Texts, the act of printing and the act of reading were highly entwined with religious, i.e. Buddhist, aspirations and did not necessarily fulfil the goal of acquiring knowledge or spreading news. On the contrary, printing and reading were expected to accumulate merit. The whole concept of "news" in the modern sense did not exist. It were Christian missionaries on the one hand, and Chinese representatives residing in Lhasa on the other, who introduced first attempts of producing newspapers in the Tibetan-speaking world. They imported this idea and the suitable machines in the first decade of the 20th century.

In 1925, the first Tibetan stepped into the scene: Gegen Dorje Tharchin founded the "Yul phyogs so so’i gsar ‘gyur me long dge" (The mirror of news from different directions of the world), in short: the Me long (Mirror), which was usually published monthly. Tharchin was a Christian convert, who at first tried to spread Christian ideas through this new form of media. The Me long existed until 1962 and in the course of time grew to be a serious piece of journalistic work, decently covering World War II, and later on presenting a valuable chronicle of the Tibetan struggle for independence.

In this thesis, I will first investigate the beginnings of the newspaper and the preconditions of its founding. This will be achieved by looking into primary sources coming from missionaries and Chinese representatives, and contemporary newspaper articles, with additions from secondary sources.
In the second part of the thesis, I will present a thorough analysis of the structural division of the Me long, in the context of which the main departments of the paper and its sub-departments will be identified, together with their quantitative distribution for the issues from 1930-1935. Finally, each one of these departments will be presented with the help of one exemplary article.