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Title: Journalists and society : a critical study of media and power in China
Author: Tong, Jingrong
ISNI:       0000 0004 2671 6533
Awarding Body: University of Westminster
Current Institution: University of Westminster
Date of Award: 2008
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This thesis discusses the interaction between media and power in China, and the influences ofthe interaction on the quality and role of journalism. The interaction is an outcome of the social process in which dissimilar values and disproportionate power compete for media discourse. The existing academic literature in the area of media-power relations over-emphasises the top-down influences of the Party-state and the market, and neglects the bottom-up counteracting force from journalists and newspaper organisations on the quality and role of journalism. Supported by the sociological theory of professionalism, this empirical work examines the cultural transformation of two newspaper organisations and the work of their journalists by using a micro approach. The arguments in this study are based on in-depth interviews with 71 journalists, participant observation during six-months of fieldwork, and textual analyses of news reports on social problems. This study has four major findings. Firstly, this study identifies a group of advocacy journalists that is emerging in China. Being different to journalists who practice Party journalism, this group of journalists wishes to tell the 'subjective truth' and they believe they can improve social development. Furthermore, their journalistic practices are coherent with professionalism. This genre of journalists is driven either by private impulse to achieve public recognition, or by a public motive of serving the public interest. Overcoming obstacles in the process of news reporting, they are practicing their beliefs. In their reports, journalists give voice to the underprivileged and no longer speak for the Party. Secondly, the coherence between advocacy journalists' practices and professionalism, however, is limited by conflicts of interest between newspaper organisations and journalists. Due to concerns about political safety, newspaper organisations limit the courageous practices of advocacy journalism. Journalists gain autonomy when the media organisation fulfils its interests. Journalists and newsrooms exploit a series of journalistic tactics to avoid touching political 'minefields' and to maximise the pursuit of private and public interests. Thirdly, the concern over political safety from the newsroom encounters the need to consider the requirements of other social forces on journalism. The intertwined power relations, and bottom-up factors, i.e. journalists' cognition and belief, the collective professionalism ofjournalists, newsroom culture, and local geo-culture plays an important role. They are either opposed to, or collaborate with, political and market intervention. The interest clash is reflected in the process of self-censorship. Finally, the value priorities of newspaper organisation and wmnmg power m power contests cause the newspaper to decide whether to seek refuge with the authority or to tactically serve the public interest. The former tends to practice Party journalism and help maintain existing social order, by speaking for the authority and the elite. By contrast, although also practicing self-censorship, the latter uses smarter tactics to make a win-win achievement of enjoying commercial revenues and of benefiting democracy and social development. A crevice is therefore created for diversified discourses that contribute to the reconfiguration of power structures and social development.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available