Social media, which created a platform for citizen journalism in China during the late 2000s, is now a tightly controlled space for sharing news and expressing opinions. Weibo, WeChat and almost all new forms of social media that initially subverted the state’s press controls have been co-opted into the system. These developments in social media emerged against the backdrop of severe problems in the mainstream Chinese media. In 2018 alone, at least 42 local newspapers ceased publication due to the recession in the media industry and the rise of social media. Since 2017, advertising revenue in China’s television sector has experienced an ongoing decline. In comparison, the mobile internet market reached 254.96 billion yuan, nearly 70 per cent of total revenue for internet advertising, far eclipsing that for traditional media. Due to growing financial constraints, many capable media professionals are leaving the traditional news media industry and joining internet companies or public relations firms. Though their individual lives may be improved by bigger paychecks, China’s media environment pays the cost.