Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Communication and Information

Major Professor

Norman R. Swan Jr.

Committee Members

Elizabeth M. Hendrickson, Lane Morris, Candace L. White


This phenomenological study focuses on the motivations of participatory journalists contributing on microblogs such as Twitter and Weibo. Although online user behavior and motivations have been studied before, few studies have examined motivations of participatory journalists from their own perspective. Moreover, this study is one of the few to explore participatory journalists across different cultures (U.S. and China). The author conducted a total of 13 in-depth interviews with participatory journalists on microblogs from both countries and used a qualitative analysis method to identify the themes and patterns that emerged. Motivations such as earning respect, technology early adoption, self-expression, relationship building, self-enhancement, branding and image building, and financial gain were discussed. De-motivational factors such as time constraints and self-censorship were presented. Motivational differences between the two groups of participants, including what the microblog account represents and the role of participatory journalists, were explained by cultural differences collectivism versus individualism and power distance. Limitations and future research were also discussed.


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