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Assessing Media Exemplars and Shifting Journalistic Paradigms: A Survey Study of China’s Journalists
Unformatted Document Text:  9 H 2 While China’s journalists place Xinmin Evening in the same category with the designated party-organs, they tend to see Southern Weekend as a domestic exemplar of the journalistic paradigm typified by elite western media. Delineating Competing Journalistic Paradigms To demonstrate that the differences in evaluating different media exemplars truly reflect competing paradigms, we need to link journalists’ evaluations of media exemplars to their beliefs of journalistic roles and desired trainings. Some scholars have demonstrated that in the U.S., as a professional ideology, journalistic professionalism contains beliefs of four “journalistic roles”: interpretive, disseminator, adversarial, and populist mobilizer (Weaver & Wilhoit, 1996, pp. 137-141; also see Johnstone, et al., 1972), and a majority of American journalists are pluralistic, that is, they simultaneously hold multiple media-role beliefs. Among these four roles, disseminator is, arguably, the most fundamental in that it reflects the basic activity of the media (Wright, 1960) and is probably most directly comparable across media systems (Reese, 2001). In the eye of China’s journalists, a key feature of the elite western media is their efficiency in covering important news and disseminating information with a high degree of professional autonomy. This perception, right or wrong, is derived also from their constant frustration over restrictions imposed on their work and numerous intrusive directives from the political authority on what they should not cover. 8 China’s journalists also admire the adversarial relationship that elite western media are seen to have with the 8 These observations are from the fieldwork on China’s media reforms carried out between 1995 and 2000. Detailed descriptions of the procedure and selected findings have been reported elsewhere (Pan, 2000a, 2000b; Pan & Lu, 2002). In this paper, unless otherwise specified, the field observational evidence referred to comes from this same project.

Authors: Pan, Zhongdang. and Chan, Joseph Man.
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9
H
2
While China’s journalists place Xinmin Evening in the same category with the
designated party-organs, they tend to see Southern Weekend as a domestic
exemplar of the journalistic paradigm typified by elite western media.
Delineating Competing Journalistic Paradigms
To demonstrate that the differences in evaluating different media exemplars truly
reflect competing paradigms, we need to link journalists’ evaluations of media exemplars
to their beliefs of journalistic roles and desired trainings.
Some scholars have demonstrated that in the U.S., as a professional ideology,
journalistic professionalism contains beliefs of four “journalistic roles”: interpretive,
disseminator, adversarial, and populist mobilizer (Weaver & Wilhoit, 1996, pp. 137-141;
also see Johnstone, et al., 1972), and a majority of American journalists are pluralistic,
that is, they simultaneously hold multiple media-role beliefs. Among these four roles,
disseminator is, arguably, the most fundamental in that it reflects the basic activity of the
media (Wright, 1960) and is probably most directly comparable across media systems
(Reese, 2001). In the eye of China’s journalists, a key feature of the elite western media
is their efficiency in covering important news and disseminating information with a high
degree of professional autonomy. This perception, right or wrong, is derived also from
their constant frustration over restrictions imposed on their work and numerous intrusive
directives from the political authority on what they should not cover.
8
China’s journalists
also admire the adversarial relationship that elite western media are seen to have with the
8
These observations are from the fieldwork on China’s media reforms carried out between 1995 and 2000.
Detailed descriptions of the procedure and selected findings have been reported elsewhere (Pan, 2000a,
2000b; Pan & Lu, 2002). In this paper, unless otherwise specified, the field observational evidence referred
to comes from this same project.


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