Impact of microblogging on journalistic practice in China : an analysis of newsmaking in two traditional newsrooms.
Date of Issue2012
Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information
New media technologies not only shape the traditional journalism in China but also complicate the political-cultural ecology in which the news media are operating. Traditional media and practitioners adapt themselves into the new media environment and strive to find out their continued relevance. After 3-year rapid growth, Twitter-like microblogging services have had 27.4 million users in China, more than half of the country’s Internet population (CNNIC, 2012). Microblogging manifests unique value in China’s authoritarian society as it offers an alternative and freer space for information exchange and opinion expression. Widely adopted by news organizations and individual news workers, microblogging brings multifaceted impact on traditional journalism. I take a social constructivist approach to examine how microblogging influences the newsmaking and professional identity of traditional journalism. Two prominent newspapers in Guangzhou, Southern Metro Daily and Guangzhou Daily, were selected for the case study. I conducted 33 in-depth interviews with journalists, editors and new media managers during a field trip in September and October, 2011. Afterwards, I chose 16 active journalist microbloggers out of the interview sampling pool and conducted a textual analysis on their tweets. The findings showed news workers proactively used microblogging to receive information and express themselves. In newsmaking, microblogging brought new methods and practices in finding, gathering and distributing news. Microblogging increased the efficiency of news work and injected participatory elements into the newsmaking. However, microblogging use had to compromise with contextual constraints (existing values and norms, work routines, news beats, newsroom cultures and policies). Though microblog information appeared to be a potential competitor to professional news, news workers did not feel fundamentally threatened. They defied microblogging as an adequate and legitimate form of journalism. As microblogging blurred the line between personal and professional, identity conflicts arose in journalistic microblogging. But the identity conflicts were not easily reconciled by policies or consensual understanding among journalists. On the one hand, microblogging reflected a deepening convergence culture in today’s journalism. On the other, by continuing some of the old norms and practices, traditional journalism normalized the new technologies and repaired the threatened paradigms.
DRNTU::Social sciences::Journalism::News reporting and writing
Nanyang Technological University