In Chinese journalism history, Shen Bao was viewed as a crucial research object. This paper attempts to establish a cultural-critical journalism history as a framework. Such a journalism history was launched by James W. Carey and realized in the works of Michael Schudson. With the help of this analytical framework, I scrutinize three ＂citizen＂ images located in different periods during the publication history of Shen Bao: the spectator citizen in the late Qing dynasty, the contributor citizen in the early Republican period, and the knower citizen from the 1920s and 1930s. Based on the empirical findings of this paper, I set the research problem and then provide reflections on two level -- one focused on the publicity theme of the study of ShenBao, the other involving the ＂Press Modernity＂ theme in modern journalism histor -- to demonstrate the implications of the cultural-critical approach to journalism history in the field of Chinese journalism.