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Assessing Media Exemplars and Shifting Journalistic Paradigms: A Survey Study of China’s Journalists
Unformatted Document Text:  38 examining journalistic paradigms with quantitative data and by focusing on competing paradigms in a transitional society. Although the individual-level data precludes the possibility of examining paradigm shift per se, the following evidence underscores not only the validity in our use of the concept of “journalistic paradigm” but also a necessary condition for a possible paradigm shift in China’s journalism. Such evidence includes: a competing paradigm has emerged in China; it is shared by the journalists who are better educated, younger (with less years in journalism), and possess more “cosmopolitan” dispositions; it has tangible manifestations in journalists’ appraisals of various media exemplars; and it has a tangible impact on how journalists view various changes that are emerging within the Party-media system during the reforms. This study also has implications for studying journalist professionalism (Hallin, 2000; Reese, 2001; Pan & Lu, 2002). Empirical studies in this area are often confronted with the difficulties of demonstrating the integration of various idea elements that are said to constitute this occupational ideology, including certain normative beliefs, principles of practices, and ethical norms. This study demonstrates that examining media exemplars can be a fruitful approach to showing how professionalism functions as working knowledge, guiding principles, and a gestalt worldview. It is also possible to envision how media exemplars may operate in unique organizational dynamics leading to media changes. Research evidence on media changes in East Central Europe (e.g., Sparks & Reading, 1994) and China’s media reforms (He, 2000; Pan, 2000b; Zhao, 2000a) already shows how such studies may provide a critical link between individual cognitions and situated practices on the one hand and systemic changes on the other. Examining how different “journalistic paradigms” operate at this level will help to prevent us from

Authors: Pan, Zhongdang. and Chan, Joseph Man.
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38
examining journalistic paradigms with quantitative data and by focusing on competing
paradigms in a transitional society. Although the individual-level data precludes the
possibility of examining paradigm shift per se, the following evidence underscores not
only the validity in our use of the concept of “journalistic paradigm” but also a necessary
condition for a possible paradigm shift in China’s journalism. Such evidence includes: a
competing paradigm has emerged in China; it is shared by the journalists who are better
educated, younger (with less years in journalism), and possess more “cosmopolitan”
dispositions; it has tangible manifestations in journalists’ appraisals of various media
exemplars; and it has a tangible impact on how journalists view various changes that are
emerging within the Party-media system during the reforms.
This study also has implications for studying journalist professionalism (Hallin,
2000; Reese, 2001; Pan & Lu, 2002). Empirical studies in this area are often confronted
with the difficulties of demonstrating the integration of various idea elements that are said
to constitute this occupational ideology, including certain normative beliefs, principles of
practices, and ethical norms. This study demonstrates that examining media exemplars
can be a fruitful approach to showing how professionalism functions as working
knowledge, guiding principles, and a gestalt worldview. It is also possible to envision
how media exemplars may operate in unique organizational dynamics leading to media
changes. Research evidence on media changes in East Central Europe (e.g., Sparks &
Reading, 1994) and China’s media reforms (He, 2000; Pan, 2000b; Zhao, 2000a) already
shows how such studies may provide a critical link between individual cognitions and
situated practices on the one hand and systemic changes on the other. Examining how
different “journalistic paradigms” operate at this level will help to prevent us from


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