The impact of digital media on newspapers: Comparing responses in China and the United States

Colin SPARKS*, Haiyan Wang, Yu HUANG, Yanhua Zhao, Nan Lü, Dan WANG

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)
65 Downloads (Pure)


Chinese newspapers are beginning to feel the effects of digital media both on their circulations and advertising revenues. In contrast to the west, where newspaper circulation has been problematic for some years, this represents a new situation since they have enjoyed 25 years during which both circulation and advertising grew very rapidly. The response of Chinese newspapers has some similarities with that experienced in the West, and notably the United States, but it also has major differences. Newspapers elsewhere have responded to the situation primarily as economic units, but in China, the political dimension has had a central role. The article reviews the comparative impact of the crisis and gives an overview of the Chinese response in terms of cost cutting, raising new revenues and changing journalistic practices. Alongside the technological and economic factors, it notes that the Xi leadership has taken a much more interventionist stance on editorial content and that this has further constrained newspapers’ possible responses. It concludes by considering some of the implications of the changed situation and the ways in which newspapers have responded to it.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)186-207
Number of pages22
JournalGlobal Media and China
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Communication
  • Cultural Studies

User-Defined Keywords

  • Advertising
  • China
  • circulation
  • Internet
  • mobile
  • newspapers
  • print journalism
  • Publishing


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