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The epistemology of environmental investigative journalists: the case of China

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journal contribution
posted on 2016-04-11, 09:35 authored by Jingrong Tong
This paper offers a case study of the epistemology of Chinese environmental investigative journalists, drawn from 42 in-depth interviews conducted between 2011 and 2013. The study proposes that it is the knowledge that journalists form, rather than whether the knowledge is objective, which is important for understanding the epistemology of environmental investigative journalists. The analysis reveals that four types of knowledge are central to what participants come to know about environmental issues in the process of validating evidence and making judgments. The importance of experience, cognition and evidence-based judgment in the knowledge formation process means there is an inevitable (but covert) involvement of journalists’ subjectivity in their reports. This suggests that the participants practise an advocacy and ethnographic journalism, characterised by pragmatism, existentialism and particular standpoints, while making a strong claim to “truth”. These standpoints are generated in the pre-writing investigation stage rather than in the writing-up stage. Therefore, in this case study, the epistemology of environmental investigative journalism is concerned with how and when meanings and opinions are generated in the process of knowledge acquisition, rather than whether the knowledge is objective.



Journalism Studies, 2015, Online First

Author affiliation

/Organisation/COLLEGE OF SOCIAL SCIENCES, ARTS AND HUMANITIES/Department of Media and Communication


  • AM (Accepted Manuscript)

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Journalism Studies


Taylor & Francis (Routledge): SSH Titles, International Communication Association (ICA), Journalism Studies Division





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