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Assessing Media Exemplars and Shifting Journalistic Paradigms: A Survey Study of China’s Journalists
Unformatted Document Text:  37 at the individual level. The hypotheses specified and research questions raised are based on our knowledge about systemic changes in China. Four major propositions derived from Kuhn’s (1970) explication of “paradigm” are critical for this study. They inform us on what in a paradigm shift can be observed at the individual level. First, journalistic paradigm is embedded in a shared worldview, commitment, and way of doing things. Therefore, our analysis focuses on shared ideas and evaluations. Second, as an abstract cognitive map, a paradigm is embodied in a set of concrete cases serving as “shared exemplars” (Kuhn, 1970, p. 187). Thus, by exploring how journalists assess media outlets that are widely known for typifying different media systems, we can infer the guiding presence of different journalistic paradigms. Third, competing paradigms are “incommensurable” (Kuhn, 1970) in that each involves a set of fundamental assumptions, vocabulary, and methods. Specific to this study, this proposition is taken to mean that a particular set of normative principles and beliefs on the roles of journalists and necessary trainings would delineate the specific contents of a journalistic paradigm. These idea elements do not seem to cross competing paradigms. Fourth, individuals get immersed in a particular paradigm through observational learning, part of which is institutional (e.g., formal training) and another is informal (e.g., social interactions). To journalists, this process means multiple routes of influences, ranging from systemic restrictions from the existing paradigm and exposure to exemplars of some alternative paradigm. Almost all the studies on “journalistic paradigm” with only one exception (Chan & Lee, 1991) are based on the U.S. experiences and examine how an existing paradigm persists through repairs (Bennett et al., 1985; Reese, 1989) and re-articulation (Zelizer, 1993). This study contributes to this body of literature by demonstrating the feasibility of

Authors: Pan, Zhongdang. and Chan, Joseph Man.
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37
at the individual level. The hypotheses specified and research questions raised are based
on our knowledge about systemic changes in China. Four major propositions derived
from Kuhn’s (1970) explication of “paradigm” are critical for this study. They inform us
on what in a paradigm shift can be observed at the individual level. First, journalistic
paradigm is embedded in a shared worldview, commitment, and way of doing things.
Therefore, our analysis focuses on shared ideas and evaluations. Second, as an abstract
cognitive map, a paradigm is embodied in a set of concrete cases serving as “shared
exemplars” (Kuhn, 1970, p. 187). Thus, by exploring how journalists assess media
outlets that are widely known for typifying different media systems, we can infer the
guiding presence of different journalistic paradigms. Third, competing paradigms are
“incommensurable” (Kuhn, 1970) in that each involves a set of fundamental assumptions,
vocabulary, and methods. Specific to this study, this proposition is taken to mean that a
particular set of normative principles and beliefs on the roles of journalists and necessary
trainings would delineate the specific contents of a journalistic paradigm. These idea
elements do not seem to cross competing paradigms. Fourth, individuals get immersed in
a particular paradigm through observational learning, part of which is institutional (e.g.,
formal training) and another is informal (e.g., social interactions). To journalists, this
process means multiple routes of influences, ranging from systemic restrictions from the
existing paradigm and exposure to exemplars of some alternative paradigm.
Almost all the studies on “journalistic paradigm” with only one exception (Chan
& Lee, 1991) are based on the U.S. experiences and examine how an existing paradigm
persists through repairs (Bennett et al., 1985; Reese, 1989) and re-articulation (Zelizer,
1993). This study contributes to this body of literature by demonstrating the feasibility of


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