Over the last 10 years a genre of critical, abrasive journalism has emerged in China, particularly on television. Chinese journalists like to refer to it as 'investigative journalism' and, in doing so, they are consciously likening it to the Anglophone equivalent. This article examines how Chinese journalists describe their work. It also looks at the various possible explanations offered for the emergence and popularity of the genre: as an epiphenomenon of government reforms of the institutional and financing systems of the media; as a function of the irritation felt by professionals with past practices and the unsatisfied urge to participate of many Chinese citizens; because of the social roles ascribed to journalists both by themselves and by the citizenry; a response to new ideas from abroad, or 'westernization'. It is concluded that, while many topics and techniques of investigative journalism are analogous with those of Anglophone countries, the Chinese journalists appear to be striving to realize roles traditional to Chinese culture rather than adopting foreign models. The notion that the re-emergence of investigative journalism is an instance of 'westernization' is rejected.
(Reprinted by permission of Sage Publications Ltd from de Burgh, Hugo (2003) Kings without crowns? The re-emergence of investigative journalism in China. © 2003 SAGE Publications).