A quarter century of creative chaos : Xinhua News Agency 1980-2005
Chinese media in the context of China's rise have puzzled many scholars who used to understand media and communications phenomena by employing the theories generated from a few affluent Western democracies, notably the US. As a result, a complex but more accurate picture has been ignored. Under numerous theoretical polarizations, the contemporary social world seems little changed but polarized. This thesis aims to propose a different approach endeavoring to 'de-Westernize' or 'internationalize' media and communications studies. As a starting point, this study focuses on the globalization debate, Chinese media and news agency studies. The thesis has investigated the Chinese news agency, Xinhua, by employing Fuzzy Logic which captures the complexity of the change in the agency's business structure and journalistic practices over last 25 years. The change is also examined by scrutinizing the role of journalists in the interrelations of Xinhua with its news sources, media and nonmedia clients, and other news agencies. A combination of archive study and 94 semistructured interviews conducted in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Macau and London provides an inclusive account of the Chinese news institution. The key research findings drawn from the empirical research into Xinhua have justified the central argument of this thesis: Crisp Logic or the 'either/or' approach has failed to explain the dynamics of the change to the media system based in a 'non-Western' society. The numerous theoretical polarizations generated by Crisp Logic to a large extent have distorted the understanding of the contemporary social world by polarizing it. Fuzzy Logic serves better(though it is not the only choice)than the traditional approach to reflect on the set of variables existing between the two poles created by Crisp Logic. This thesis is the first doctorate research in the UK and other English-speaking countries to investigate Xinhua by 'going inside' the news institution's headquarters, local branches and overseas bureaus. This is the first comprehensive academic study of the agency, which not only examines the agency's recent change in business structure and journalistic practices, but also provides a historical account of the agency and its relationship with other social institutions. This is the first media study that employs Fuzzy Logic to understand the globalization theory, Chinese media and news agencies.