The Construction of the Professional Identity of the TV News Presenter in Two Chinese News Programmes : A Discourse-Theoretical Analysis

Abstract: This PhD research project investigates how the professional identity of the Chinese TV news presenter is constructed in two news programmes, Guangdong News and TVS News, both based at Guangdong TV. The overarching theoretical framework of the project takes its inspiration from Laclau and Mouffe's (1985) post-structuralist discourse theory (DT). Drawing upon the DT ontological perspective in particular, the professional identity of the TV news presenter – labelled the subject position in DT – is seen to be discursively constructed, obtaining its meaning through the articulatory practice of nodal points.The study is set within the dual contexts of societal transformations of China, and its changing media industry. This research argues that the TV news presenter's professional identity is a discourse, constructed through the articulation of four particular nodal points, in the discursive field of Chinese news production. These nodal points are: 1) mastering professional knowledge; 2) holding journalistic values; 3) being a storyteller; and 4) being a Party’s ideologist. After analysing these four nodal points, the research then addresses their specificity, contingency, and complexity, and provides a normative evaluation of these four nodal points and their articulations into a discourse.Methodologically, the research adopts a qualitative approach through discourse-theoretical analysis (DTA, Carpentier and De Cleen, 2007). This approach is implemented through the empirical case study of the two TV news programmes (Guangdong News and TVS News) in a southern Chinese news centre, Guangdong TV. The collection and analysis of the research corpus involves two parts: The first part of the corpus consists of a one-year systematic sample of 50 news episodes from the two news programmes. The second part of the corpus results from ethnographic fieldwork (participant observations and in-depth interviews) in the Guangdong TV newsroom. The entire data analysis is driven by the use of DTA, which is supported by the procedures of qualitative content analysis and ethnographic analysis. The case study on the articulatory practice of the presenter’s subject position provides insights into the complexities of identity construction, but also allows reflection on the bigger picture of the societal positioning of the news industry in contemporary China.