The meaning of distance in news: Hong Kong media's differential treatment of local vs. non-local events

Steve Z S GUO*, Yiu Ming TO, Yu HUANG, Fong Yee Chan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Geographical distance as a "natural" attribute of news has always been systematically and artificially manipulated by media workers. This study investigated how various community newspapers select, interpret, and package events originating in places of varying distances. Contextualized in Hong Kong, the paper emphasize the relationships among three sets of variables: 1) Three types of newspapers (mass appeal, elite, and proestablishment); 2) four news locales (local, China, Asian, and international); and 3) three content characteristics (power reliance, conflicting viewpoints, and problem attribution). To test our hypotheses, this study was conducted using a large-scale content analysis of all 14 daily newspapers in Hong Kong. Findings were mixed, but showing consistently that local news was systematically differentiated from non-local news. The differences are mainly regardingthe frequency of political authorities cited, presence of diversified opinions, and the likelihood of either individuals or institutions being blamed for social wrongs. Considerable variations were detected across different types of newspapers as well. In addition, we found that the growing influence of China's dominant ideology on the political life of Hong Kong has taken its toll on the territory's media practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)195-236
Number of pages42
JournalMass Communication Research
Issue number104
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2010

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Communication

User-Defined Keywords

  • Community newspaper
  • News distance
  • Opinion diversity
  • Power reliance
  • Problem attribution


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