Chinese Journalism Studies: research directions

The Chinese Journalism Research Network is organising a “Blue Skies” session at the International Communication Association Annual Conference in July 2024. Ahead of this hybrid session, we would like to engage scholars in discussion, whether or not you plan to attend the conference.


Journalism studies has been normatively grounded in freedom of expression as a universal human right. Whether investigating media systems, news content or professional norms, the choice of questions and frameworks has tended, implicitly at least, to honour the emancipatory potential of journalism and critique its subjugation to concentrated power.

China poses a triple challenge to this approach: its tightened grip on journalism practice compels scholars to rethink their object of study; it has imposed more barriers to empirical research; and its quest for “discourse power” contests the consensus view on press freedom. We want to explore practical, theoretical and normative challenges to Chinese journalism research that arise from these tensions.

Our ICA workshop (22 June, 9–10:15am, Star Hotel, Gold Coast, Australia) will gather colleagues engaged in Chinese journalism and comparative media research to share experiences and ideas. Whether or not you plan to attend, we hope you will contribute to the online discussion. Please send us your thoughts on any of the questions below.

– Cherian George, chair, ICA Blue Sky Workshop

Queries? Please email Liu Fangyuan


1. Normative Frameworks

Can we crystallise core normative frameworks that preserve the essence of the human rights perspective on free speech, while provincialising norms and standards that may be too western-centric and insensitive to global diversity?

2. Resilient Practices

While Chinese news media organisations’ freedom to engage in public interest journalism has been severely hampered over the last decade, where should researchers look to find resilient “acts of journalism” now or in the future?

3. Research approaches

How can researchers deal most effectively with the practical challenges of conducting empirical studies of Chinese journalism in today’s inhospitable research environment? What methodologies work best for which questions?

4. Comparative approaches

Rather than seeing China in isolation, how can Chinese journalism research enrich the wider field’s understanding of other autocratic or de-democratising systems, including trends such as media capture, anti-media populism, and platformisation?


This is a moderated discussion, so your inputs will take time to appear on this page.

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