Malleable Multiplicity and Power Reliance: Identity Presentation by Chinese Journalists on Social Media

Dan Wang*, Vincent Huang, Steve Zhongshi Guo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


This study investigates the impact of social media on journalistic identity presentation in China. We empirically link micro conceptions of journalists and macro changes in media ecology through ethnographic observations of daily routines in a party press. Specifically, our scrutiny of Chinese journalists’ use of WeChat Moments, an equivalent of Twitter, uncovered patterns showing that media organizations’ increasing dependence on state subsidies has resulted in the decline of professional ideals and forced journalists to gravitate to utilitarian values in their professional and commercial pursuits. The resulting precarity of malleable multiplicity identity creates tensions between self-branding and propaganda goals. Findings point to a change in the direction of Chinese journalism toward an increasing yielding to the influence of new media technology and the tightened grip of ideological control. This study enriches existing discussions on multiplicity of social media and liquid identities in information industry.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1280-1297
Number of pages18
JournalDigital Journalism
Issue number10
Early online date23 Oct 2020
Publication statusPublished - 6 Dec 2020

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Communication

User-Defined Keywords

  • Chinese journalism
  • ethnography
  • malleable multiplicity
  • precarity of identity
  • social media
  • state subsidy


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