“Stir-Frying” Internet Finance: Financialization and the Institutional Role of Financial News in China
This article describes the institutional role of Chinese financial news in the deepening process of financialization in China. It analyzes the 300 most viewed articles on Sina Finance to examine how the mainstream financial news choose topics, themes, and styles in reporting “Internet finance,” a business category initiated by the Chinese state in 2013 to vitalize the finance sector and offset economic slowdown. A combination of quantitative and qualitative analyses reveals that the major Chinese media outlets aggressively promoted the technological advantages of Internet finance and its profit potential in stock markets while obscuring the risks, uncertainties, and regulatory constraints inherent in it. Drawing on the institutional theory in media studies, this article argues that the mainstream financial news in China functions as a political, economic, and cultural-cognitive institution supporting the informatization and marketization of the finance sector. Such an institutional role is both a corollary and propeller of the increasingly financialized economy and culture in China.