I am a reporter and you are not: how legacy and digital-only journalists in Hong Kong negotiate their professional boundaries

  • Florin Constantin Serban

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


The journalistic field is currently disrupted by digital networked technologies and by the rise of public participation. In the case of Hong Kong, the journalists' situation is complicated by the political uncertainties of the territory and the high economic pressures local journalists are facing. This research aims to understand how the legacy press and digital-only media in Hong Kong are patrolling and strengthening their professional borders in order to continue doing their work in this new environment. The journalistic field is analysed in relationship with four main themes: 1) technological convergence and actants, 2) public participation, 3) political pressures, and 4) economic imperatives. Anchored in Pierre Bourdieu's field theory and borrowing from Thomas Gieryn's concept of boundary-work, this comparative study highlights the historical developments that have led to the current configurations of the journalistic field. This empirical research is carried out while fully taking into account social and cultural characteristics of the territory, but especially of the journalistic field in Hong Kong. Apart from such an investigative effort, this research analyses where new actors (e.g. the audience through its participation) and recent technological developments are located within the broader journalistic field. Through a case-study method, relying on in-depth interviews, newsroom observations, and annual reports, this study points out to what extent legacy journalists and digital-only journalists adopt similar or different tactics to enforce their professional boundaries and how they adapt to a new environment brought forward by technological convergence, public participation, growing political and economic pressures. On the theoretical level, this research contributes with an inclusive re-conceptualization of the journalistic field and the concept of boundary-work.

Date of Award25 Aug 2017
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorYu HUANG (Supervisor)

User-Defined Keywords

  • China
  • Hong Kong
  • Journalists
  • Online journalism

Cite this