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Participatory Journalism in an Authoritarian Space: How Chinese Media Use Opinion Polls Online and Offline

Sat, May 23, 9:00 to 10:15, Caribe Hilton, Conference Room 8/9


The rise of digitally networked technologies is reshaping reporting across the continent. This study seeks to determine the forms of “participatory journalism” that it is taking in an authoritarian space by subjecting to analysis the way the polls are used offline and online by Chinese media. Through a longitudinal content analysis of China’s largest official newspaper and its news website, we attempt to identify the signs of “media logic” vis-à-vis “political logic” in its poll reporting, and to test whether its online and offline platforms share the same logics. While abundant literature suggests that U.S. reporting of opinion polls conforms to a horse-race image, this study found that Chinese media’s use of polls tends to reinforce an image of “consensus” in support of superiors. Furthermore, this study found that compared with the print version, the online platform creates more participatory and entertainment features to existing poll stories.