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  • Strategic Responses to Political Changes

Strategic Responses to Political Changes

An Analysis of Newspaper Editorials in Hong Kong, 1998-2006

Francis L. F. Lee, Joseph M. Chan

English , 2009/01 HKIAPS, Occasional Paper Series Hong Kong Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies, CUHK

Tags: Hong Kong Studies, Journalism & Communication

215 x 140 mm , 46pp ISBN : 978-962-441-199-7

  • US$3.00

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This study analyses the contents of editorials published by five Hong Kong newspapers in the period of 1998 to 2006 — roughly speaking, the first decade after the handover. Based on a conceptual framework that understands media politics in post-handover Hong Kong as involving a continual process of strategic interaction and negotiation between the media and the political power holders, this study examines whether and the extent to which the five newspapers under study have adopted various strategies in their editorials to avoid or reduce political risks. It is argued that, depending on its overall political position and marketing position, each newspaper faces a more or less distinctive set of political and market concerns. Therefore, each newspaper is likely to adopt a corresponding set of strategies in its editorials. More specifically, this content analysis addresses the question of whether there are signs of introspection, de-politicization, avoidance of criticism of the power holders, promotion of the power holders, invocation of conservative social values, invocation of procedural values, and avoidance of liberal-democratic values in the editorials of the five newspapers. The results revealed both similarities and subtle differences among the newspapers. It was also found that no newspaper would adopt all of the strategies in their editorials at the same time. For example, Wen Wei Po, being a propagandist newspaper affiliated with the Chinese Communist Party, has been very positive towards the political power centre. Yet taking up the role of propagandist also means that there has been little need for Wen Wei Po to avoid China issues and political matters. Introspection and de-politicization were more apparent in the case of other newspapers, which still attempted to present themselves as representatives of the local public. While these newspapers tended to avoid criticizing China, they also refrained from actively promoting the ideologies of the power holders. Some of them would even heavily criticize the Hong Kong government. Overall, the analysis illustrates the complexities in media responses to political change. It also replicates and strengthens the generalizability and validity of certain existing findings and arguments based on issue-specific case studies of post-handover press performance in Hong Kong. 從香港報章社論看新聞媒介對政治環境及轉變的回應:1998至2006年的報章社論內容分析 本研究分析五份香港報章從1998至2006年發表的社論文章,探討在回歸後,香港傳媒如何回應政治環境的轉變。從理論而言,本研究視回歸後香港傳媒與政治權力之間關係的發展為「策略互動」的結果。面對一定程度的政治壓力,香港傳媒發展出一些應變策略:一方面避免或減輕政治風險,同時亦盡量維持自己的專業形象、公信力,以及報章的風格。不過,對傳媒機構而言,基於政治立場、市場定位,以及專業取向的不同,它們要面對和考慮的問題並不完全一樣,因而採納的應變策略亦有所不同;亦由此故,每份報章的社論文章都可能顯示其獨有的特徵。 在經驗分析的層次上,本研究著眼於報章社論的選題、對權力擁有者的態度,以及對社會和政治價值觀的運用。分析的目的在於探索各報章有沒有或多大程度顯示以下特徵:迴避中國及政治問題、避免批評政府、為政府作正面宣傳、宣揚保守的價值觀、使用「程式性」價值觀以減低政治風險,以及避談自由民主等價值理念。研究發現,每份報章的確因應其定位及需要而各自有獨特的策略。如《文匯報》很大程度上擔當著宣傳機器的角色。

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