Measuring differences in the Chinese press: A study of People’s Daily and Southern Metropolitan Daily

Haiyan Wang, Colin Sparks*, Yu Huang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


The development of the market has produced a differentiation inside the Chinese press between an ‘official’ press with traditional propaganda functions on behalf of the Communist Party and a ‘commercial’ press whose objective is to maximise revenue. Scholarly opinion has differed over whether marketization undermines Party control and whether new forms of journalism have arisen that lead to conflicts. These discussions have rested on little evidence as to the practises of Chinese journalism. This article presents empirical data on the extent of the differentiation, reporting on a content analysis of the national news in People’s Daily and Southern Metropolitan Daily. These titles are popularly believed to represent the polar opposites of official, orthodox journalism and commercial, liberal journalism. The evidence presented here demonstrates that while there are indeed significant differences in the journalism of the two titles, there remains a substantial overlap in their choice of subjects, their use of sources and the degree to which news is presented ‘objectively’. Southern Metropolitan Daily does display some ‘popular’ features and does contain more ‘watchdog’ journalism, but it shares with its official cousin an emphasis upon the party as the source for news.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)125-140
Number of pages16
JournalGlobal Media and China
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2018

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Communication
  • Cultural Studies

User-Defined Keywords

  • People’s Daily
  • Southern Metropolitan Daily
  • China
  • journalism
  • newspapers


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