Censorship and Journalist Blogs in China

By Gong-Cheng, Lin; Ying, Li | Global Media Journal, Fall 2010 | Go to article overview

Censorship and Journalist Blogs in China


Gong-Cheng, Lin, Ying, Li, Global Media Journal


Key words: Blog, newspaper blog, public blog, China

Abstract

It is a growing phenomenon that journalists in China are blogging. Some journalists blog within the media outlet's website, while some blogs in the public sites. This paper mainly discusses the limitation of blogs by analyzing the difference between newspaper blogs and writings on public blog platforms. We argue that the content of public blogs is markedly different from those published on newspaper blogs. This is because newspaper blogs are less individualistic and journalistic blogging on newspaper platforms is more strongly influenced by the organization to which they belong.

Introduction

Journalists made up an important part in the first generation of bloggers. Robinson (2006) characterizes journalistic blogs in following ways: a reporter's notebook of news tidbits and incidentals; a straight column of opinion; a question-and-answer format by editors; a readership forum; a confessional diary written by the reporter about his or her beat; a round-up of news summaries that promote the print publication; and a rumor-mill that reporter uses as an off-the-record account. Robinson does not provide quantitative data to support his arguments. The categorization, however, indicates how blogs serve journalism in various ways.

Several studies have focused on how blogs change journalists' life and work practices. Carison (2007) notes that blogging presents journalists an opportunity to make journalism more transparent. Lowrey and Mackay (2008) pointed out that blogs affect the ways journalists practice their profession, such as reporting, using blogs as news sources and decision making regarding the newsworthiness of events. In the literature, there is much speculation that journalistic blogs may create opportunities to increase reader engagement with mainstream news outlets and heighten community participation in the public discourse. Therefore, we are interested to know if the same process takes place in China. In this study, we explore the journalistic narratives on newspaper blogs and independent public blogs that are advanced in different ways related to their occupations. By discussing these areas, we can develop a better understanding of the evolving landscape of Chinese journalism and how blogging has introduced new elements into journalism.

A growing number of journalists in China are now blogging. Although there has been little research into Chinese journalist bloggers, it appears to be a growing phenomenon. Many traditional media websites in China host blogs, with reporters and editors serving as bloggers. This indicates that journalists use blogs much more extensively than the general public. Journalists are part of the first generation to publicly exchange views with readers and viewers through blogging.

Blogging by journalists in China compares in some ways to the Western countries. For example, blogs are used by Chinese newspapers to maintain or increase readership. Blogs also make journalism more transparent when journalists update news stories. However, except for the similarities, journalism in China differs greatly in terms of social, political, and cultural structures compared to the Western countries. Therefore, we must note that journalistic blogs in China also differ greatly in many aspects with their counterparts.

Media Structure in China

The media structure in China is unique. Since the 1980s, Chinese media have undergone profound reforms. In the old times, Party journalism has dominated Chinese journalism for a long period; journalists acted like semi-government officials, creating the link between the government, the Communist Party, and the people. As a result, journalists became the mouthpiece of the Party and were portrayed as lacking professional controls for a long time. In the absence of a formal professional structure or rigidly enforced codes of ethics in China, blogs have become increasingly important. …

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