Chinese Journalists' Discursive Weibo Practices in an Extended Journalistic Sphere

Jiawei Sophia Fu*, Alice Y L LEE

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


This study examines Chinese journalists' Weibo practices by analyzing 2659 Weibo posts by journalists. Previous studies indicate that Western journalists generally “normalize” their posting activities on social media to fit their professional standards and practices, but this normalization practice is conducted in a more complicated way in China. Our findings suggest that Chinese journalists' Weibo practices are influenced by four offline journalistic discourses: Party-press, professionalism, market economy, and Confucian intellectual. Overall, Chinese journalists' Weibo discourses exhibit political caution, professionalism deviation, marketing commitment, and Confucian intellectual expression. By comparing officially oriented and commercially oriented journalists, we find that commercial journalists who are subject to less political and organizational control were more politically engaged, professionalism deviant, and socially conscious. This study treats “journalists' Weibo” as a spin-off journalistic sphere. On this new technological platform, Chinese journalists are able to enjoy increased journalistic autonomy and freedom. Thus, while Chinese journalists normalize their Weibo practices based on their existing offline journalistic discourses, the spin-off sphere of Weibo provides them with new opportunities to deviate from traditional journalistic norms. Yet, we find that official political and organizational control is still tight. Thus, technological innovation and socio-political context are both important in influencing journalists' discursive practices on this extended news sphere.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)80-99
Number of pages20
JournalJournalism Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2016

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Communication

User-Defined Keywords

  • Chinese journalists
  • deviation
  • journalistic discourse
  • micro-blogging
  • norm
  • professionalism
  • social media
  • Weibo


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