Changing media, Changing audience: How Chinese journalists perceive, address and interact with their audience in the online environment

  • SPARKS, Colin (PI)

Project: Research project

Project Details


Chinese newspapers are responding to declining audiences and falling advertising revenues by developing their digital offerings. The well-established web sites have been joined by Weibo and Wexin presences. These shifts involve more than simply changing the medium through which news is distributed. In particular, the ability of the digital audience directly to generate news items, to comment upon news stories, and to seek out alternative sources, means that newspapers are obliged to rethink their relationship with their audiences. For the managers of both party and commercial newspapers, the loss of revenues leads them to try to develop new relationships with governmental and commercial organizations that can provide financial support to replace the lost advertising. For newspaper editors, the availability of instant feedback on audience behaviour has meant that they have to reconsider the ways in which they allocate journalistic resources and how they prioritise news stories. They now know, more or less in real time, what stories audiences are clicking on, which they are posting comments upon, and which are failing to attract attention. For working journalists, the new outlets sometimes provide opportunities to publish material that is blocked in their newspaper, sometimes provide leads to new stories and sources to back them up, and sometimes represent serious competition for the attention of the news audience. There is widespread international evidence, and some limited material in China, that suggests that the tastes of audience as expressed through their news preferences diverge substantially from the ways in which journalists have, in the past, defined news. Public affairs, both political and economic, look less large in the audience’s preferences and infotainment looks much more important. This project will analyse the ways in which all three levels of news workers are responding to this new situation. It will analyse the ways in which the content of selected newspapers has changed in response to the rise of new media outlets and compare the news agendas as presented in both printed and various digital forms. It will conduct a survey of news workers in the selected newspaper groups and follow up with interviews at different levels of the organizations in order to discover how journalists and editors are thinking about their new relationships with audience and how they are changing their journalistic practices to accommodate these shifts. The findings of this research will provide important contemporary insights in to the changing nature of Chinese media
Effective start/end date1/09/1731/08/19

UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This project contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth


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