Blogging the Imagined Public Sphere in China: From Auto- ethnographic Writing to Online Citizen Journalism
Empowered and inspired by international free-press experience and yet in the shadow of national internet censorship and fi ltering, the rise of the blog in China has produced a furious debate over the role of bloggers as they bring about a comparatively democratic, more individual and antiélite public discourse. Blogging has produced a socially structured network in terms of the pattern of online writing that has facilitated the access of both journalists and the Chinese general public to collective intelligence and civic engagement both domestic and international. This has given rise to great excitement among Chinese internet users and scholars, who see the blogosphere as much more than a means of personal diary writing and extol its potential as a strategic channel for digital communication, an alternative space for documenting personal history and refl ecting society and, particularly, a discursive possibility for re-locating the pursuit of democracy to a new platform (Fenton 2009). These expectations pave the way for us to trace blogs both as auto-ethnographic writing and as citizen journalism. This chapter explores the practice and patterns the Chinese blogosphere embraces, and it tries to understand how individual experience has been heavily involved in the wider complex transformation of perspectives and imagination of citizen journalism in China and its contribution to evolving global practices of international news production.