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Title: A comparative study of print journalists in contemporary Chinese society
Author: Li, Guannan
ISNI:       0000 0004 9357 5515
Awarding Body: King's College London
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2020
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In the wake of media reform, Chinese print journalists have been experiencing unprecedented changes. The introduction of market forces and de-regulation of media control, a new round of tight control, and stagnation of the print media environment have had a severe impact. A number of journalists were able to counteract these changes by productively adjusting their working practices, while others seem to have reacted sluggishly to these ongoing changes. Moreover, the impact of these changes appears to be closely related to the nature of the media outlets in which the journalists work and the cities where they work. As such, a profound understanding of Chinese print journalists, in the process of these ongoing changes, is vital. This thesis applies a bottom-up perspective, examining how Chinese journalists have responded to a plethora of changes, and is intended to be an empirical exploration of Chinese print journalists. A qualitative method was adopted for data collection and data analysis, and involved semi-structured in-depth interviews being carried out over the course of twelve months. The journalists sampled came from three tiers of Chinese cities, namely, the capital, a provincial city and a municipal city. These three cities are all in the north of China, and the provincial and municipal city are both in Jilin province, which is located in the northeast of China. The main focus of this thesis is to compare the similarities and differences among journalists working across these three cities. This is the first time that “peripheral cities”, in particular the first time that cites in the northeast, have been included in this kind of research. This thesis also sampled journalists according to the nature of the media outlets in which they work. By comparing and contrasting journalists working for the two types of media outlets, it is also possible to illustrate the differences in their experiences. Respondents were further separated into two groups according to the length of time that they have worked for. Furthermore, this thesis is also unique in its re-examination of Chinese journalists in the context of the receding print media market. In this project, the term ‘print journalists’ refers to journalists working for both newspapers and periodicals. This type of journalist plays a crucial role in the development of the Chinese media and constitutes the majority of Chinese journalists,but has not yet been fully analyzed by existing scholars. As such, this thesis adopts a broader view and attempts to answer three key questions:What are these journalists’ experiences of changes in the political, commercial and technological environment and how do they react to the changes? How do Chinese journalists understand their professional orientation and the dynamic relationship between their professional orientation and the changes? How does this dynamic relationship contribute to the understanding of Chinese journalists? By answering these questions, this thesis helps paint a clearer picture of Chinese print journalists. Based on the findings of this thesis, I argue that through a new round of control, commercial incentives and a new way of regulating traditional and emerging media, the Party has achieved the aim of taming Chinese journalists. These journalists, either actively or passively, stand closely by the Party, although there may be slight differences in how they do so caused by the tier of the city in which they work and the nature of the media outlets in which they work. There is no possibility that any Chinese journalists will be able to challenge the Party and push through any policy changes. Although the professional orientation of Chinese print journalists has changed over time, and even though the professional orientation of a single journalist is diverse, all Chinese journalists actually fall under one category only, that is, the mouthpiece of the Party. In the end, the Party is able to consolidate its position by synchronizing their messages.
Supervisor: Brown, Kerry Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available