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Fellows' Papers
Journalism & Democracy

Hybrid Journalists

Wenming Dai is the Editor of International News, Oriental Outlook, at the Xinhua News Agency, who was a Thomson Reuters fellow in the Hilary and Trinity terms, 2013.   She writes about her research paper "Hybrid Journalists -- Chinese Journalists in an era of reform: their values and challenges":“For the rest of the world, the Chinese media have long been associated with a traditional image of being “mouthpieces” for the party or the state. For example, some observers think Chinese journalists are "robots": they get up, go to the office, do as they are told, go home... and get up again. However, after more than 30 years of reform and opening up, the reality is far more complex. The aim of the research paper is to go beyond the “mouthpiece” discourse, and venture into the hearts and minds of present-day Chinese journalists: their aspirations, dilemmas, struggles and balancing efforts, based on in-depth interviews with ten Chinese journalists across different platforms. What the research finds is that reform era Chinese journalists are definitely much more than “robots”: they’re frank, funny, critical with a touch of cynicism, and pretty much like their counterparts in any country. And in terms of values, they’re probably more “hybrid” than previous generations (and maybe their international counterparts as well), as they are caught in the unique double pressure of media control on the one hand and market competition on the other. They’re a group of “hybrid journalists”, constantly in a battle of navigating space, testing parameters, weighing interests and wavering over values in subtle and impressive ways. Their "hybrid" nature is further broken down into three aspects: their unique professional values, values of patriotism and how the boom in social media is reshaping their journalistic values. The research also tapped into some controversial ethical issues long associated with Chinese journalists. For example, do Chinese journalists still take “red envelopes”, which is cash handed out by relevant interest parties in exchange for favourable coverage? And do they think it's their responsibility to defend national interests?”