|Title||Guiding public protest: assessing the propaganda model of China’s hybrid newspaper industry|
This dissertation presents an account and analysis of published mainland Chinese media coverage surrounding three major events of public protest during the Hu-Wen era (2003-2013). The research makes a qualitative analysis of printed material drawn from a range of news outlets, differentiated by their specific political and commercial affiliations. The goal of the research is to better understand the role of mainstream media in social conflict resolution, a hitherto under-studied area, and to identify gradations within the ostensibly monolithic mainland Chinese media on issues of political sensitivity. China’s modern media formation displays certain characteristics of Anglophone media at its hyper-commercialised, populist core. However, the Chinese state retains an explicit, though often ambiguous, remit to engage with news production. Because of this, Chinese newspapers are often assumed to be one-dimensional propaganda ‘tools’ and, accordingly, easily dismissed from analyses of public protest. This research finds that, in an area where political actors have rescinded their monopoly on communicative power, a result of both policy decisions and the rise of Internet-based media platforms, established purveyors of news have acquired greater latitude to report on hitherto sensitive episodes of conflict but do so under the burden of having to correctly guide public opinion. The thesis examines the discursive resources that are deployed in this task, as well as reporting patterns which are suggestive of a new propaganda approach to handling social conflict within public media. Beside the explicitly political nature of coverage of protest events, the study sheds lights on gradations within China’s complex, hybrid media landscape both in terms of institutional purpose and qualitative performance.
|Keywords||China media; China commercial media; China protest; China newspapers; authoritarian resilience|