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Protocols of Control in Chinese Online News Media: The Case of Wenzhou News

Zhao, Yiran (2016) Protocols of Control in Chinese Online News Media: The Case of Wenzhou News. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

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Abstract

This thesis explores censorship and self-censorship in online news production in China. It presents an analysis drawn from observation in the online newsroom and interviews with online news workers and cyber police officers in China. In addition, it studies the mechanisms of online censorship and protocols of news censorship in an online newsroom context. This involves an analysis of journalistic activities in the process of online news production, self-censorship of online news workers, and power flows between the Chinese authorities and online news media in determining the output of online news content. Although the Chinese “free press” is enshrined in the Constitution of The People’s Republic of China as a right, the mechanism of online news censorship is shaped under the influence of an anti-liberal theory of limited freedom of speech. Confucius, the proclaimer of this theory, devalues individual liberty, advocating the ‘right to speak’ is a benefaction of the ruling class, and this “freedom” can be compromised for the welfare of the state. It is a view shared by Confucius’ successors. This theory, therefore, conceptually sets up a distinctive paternalistic protocol of online news censorship in China, as the online news workers are instructed to censor and self-censor online content under the influence of administrative interference. Through thematic analysis of field notes, which covers a four-week period of observation and recording in the online newsroom of Wenzhou News, a local online news organisation in China, the hierarchical structure and general workflow in this online newsroom are illustrated. By further analysing interviews conducted with online journalists, editors, web administrators and cyber police officers, this thesis draws on the perspectives of online news workers and censors towards the protocol of online news censorship, through which the power matrix between the Chinese government, the Communist Party of China, and online news media are triangulated. By analysing and constructing technological and social modes of censorship in the online environment, this thesis sets up a conceptual framework of the protocols of online news censorship in China, draws detailed processes of online news production under the pressure of censorship, and explores the concept of “harmonisation” within the online newsroom where specific ideological motivations and structural operationalisation influence the output of online news content.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Social Sciences (Sheffield) > Journalism (Sheffield)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.689315
Depositing User: Mr Yiran Zhao
Date Deposited: 08 Jul 2016 15:07
Last Modified: 03 Oct 2016 13:15
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/13412

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