Hostname: page-component-546b4f848f-lx7sf Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2023-05-31T10:19:30.985Z Has data issue: false Feature Flags: { "useRatesEcommerce": true } hasContentIssue false

China's Newsmakers: Official Media Coverage and Political Shifts in the Xi Jinping Era

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 December 2017

Kyle Jaros
University of Oxford. Email:
Jennifer Pan
Stanford University. Email:


Xi Jinping's rise to power in late 2012 brought immediate political realignments in China, but the extent of these shifts has remained unclear. In this paper, we evaluate whether the perceived changes associated with Xi Jinping's ascent – increased personalization of power, centralization of authority, Party dominance and anti-Western sentiment – were reflected in the content of provincial-level official media. As past research makes clear, media in China have strong signalling functions, and media coverage patterns can reveal which actors are up and down in politics. Applying innovations in automated text analysis to nearly two million newspaper articles published between 2011 and 2014, we identify and tabulate the individuals and organizations appearing in official media coverage in order to help characterize political shifts in the early years of Xi Jinping's leadership. We find substantively mixed and regionally varied trends in the media coverage of political actors, qualifying the prevailing picture of China's “new normal.” Provincial media coverage reflects increases in the personalization and centralization of political authority, but we find a drop in the media profile of Party organizations and see uneven declines in the media profile of foreign actors. More generally, we highlight marked variation across provinces in coverage trends.


2012 年习近平上台以来,中国政治呈现出不少变化,但学者很难清晰地描绘出这些变化的范围和深度。在本文中,我们评估习近平上台后几个可察觉到的趋势(政治权力个人化,中央权威的集中,共产党权力的巩固,以及反西方情绪的增长)是否在省级官方媒体上有所反映。根据以往的研究,中国媒体可以帮助政治精英发送信号,媒体的报道经常揭示不同政治人物的沉浮。通过使用新颖的自动化文本分析方法对数百万报刊文章进行分析,我们统计了个人与团体在所有官方媒体上出现的频率。我们希望借此能清晰地描绘出习近平执政初期所带来的政治变化。我们的分析表明,省级官媒对政治人物的报道方式相当混杂,并具有区域性差异.这意味着各地官方媒体中的 “新常态” 是不一致的。2012 年以来,省级官方媒体对中国最高领导与中央政府机构的报道频率增加,同时,官方媒体对外国政治人物的报道有不同程度的减少。但是,党的组织机构在官方媒体的出现频率有所下降,而媒体报道内容在不同省之间存在不少差异。

Copyright © SOAS University of London 2017 

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


Ban, Pamela, Fouirnaies, Alexander, Hall, Andrew B. and Snyder, James M.. Forthcoming. “How newspapers reveal political power.”Google Scholar
Browne, Andrew. 2014. “Fear and loathing in China's new economic normal.” The Brookings Institution, Accessed 19 August 2015.Google Scholar
Browne, Andrew. 2015. “The whiplash of Xi Jinping's top-down style,” The Wall Street Journal, 23 June.Google Scholar
Cabestan, Jean-Pierre. 2009. “China's foreign – and security – policy decision-making processes under Hu Jintao.” Journal of Current Chinese Affairs 38(3), 6397.Google Scholar
Chang, Pi-Chuan, Galley, Michel and Manning, Christopher D.. 2008. “Optimizing Chinese word segmentation for machine translation performance.” In Proceedings of the Third Workshop on Statistical Machine Translation. Columbus, OH: Association for Computational Linguistics, 224232.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Chen, Xueyi, and Shi, Tianjian. 2001. “Media effects on political confidence and trust in the People's Republic of China in the post-Tiananmen period.” East Asia 19(3), 84118.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Denyer, Simon. 2013. “China's leader, Xi Jinping, consolidates power with crackdowns on corruption, internet,” The Washington Post, 3 October.Google Scholar
Economy, Elizabeth C. 2014. “China's imperial president.” Foreign Affairs 93(6), 8091.Google Scholar
Fewsmith, Joseph. 2013. “Xi Jinping's fast start.” China Leadership Monitor 41, 34.Google Scholar
Finkel, Jenny Rose, Grenager, Trond and Manning, Christopher. 2005. “Incorporating nonlocal information into information extraction systems by Gibbs sampling.” In Proceedings of the 43rd Annual Meeting on Association for Computational Linguistics. Columbus, OH: Association for Computational Linguistics, 363370.Google Scholar
Grimmer, Justin, and Stewart, Brandon M.. 2013. “Text as data: the promise and pitfalls of automatic content analysis methods for political texts.” Political Analysis 21(3), 267297.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hopmann, David Nicolas, de Vreese, Claes H. and Albæk, Erik. 2011. “Incumbency bonus in election news coverage explained: the logics of political power and the media market.” Journal of Communication 61(2), 264282.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hu, Zhengrong. 2003. “The post-WTO restructuring of the Chinese media industries and the consequences of capitalisation.” Javnost-The Public 10(4), 1936.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Huang, Haifeng. 2015. “Propaganda as signaling.” Comparative Politics 47(4), 419444.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
King, Gary, Pan, Jennifer and Roberts, Margaret E.. 2013. “How censorship in China allows government criticism but silences collective expression.” American Political Science Review 107(2), 118.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Lafferty, John, McCallum, Andrew and Pereira, Fernando. 2001. “Conditional random fields: probabilistic models for segmenting and labeling sequence data.” In Proceedings of the 18th International Conference on Machine Learning (ICML 2001), Scholar
Lampton, David M. 2015. “Xi Jinping and the National Security Commission: policy coordination and political power.” Journal of Contemporary China 24(95), 119.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Miller, Alice. 2014. “How strong is Xi Jinping?China Leadership Monitor 43.Google Scholar
Mulvenon, James. 2015. “The yuan stops here: Xi Jinping and the ‘CMC Chairman Responsibility System’.” China Leadership Monitor 47.Google Scholar
Page, Jeremy, Davis, Bob and Wei, Lingling. 2013. “Xi weakens role of Beijing's No. 2,” The Wall Street Journal, 20 December, Accessed 5 August 2015.Google Scholar
Qin, Bei, Strömberg, David and Wu, Yanhui. 2014. “Media bias in China,” Scholar
Roshco, Bernard. 1975. Newsmaking. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
Shih, Victor. 2008. “‘Nauseating’ displays of loyalty: monitoring the factional bargain through ideological campaigns in China.” The Journal of Politics 70(4), 116.Google Scholar
Shirk, Susan. 2010. Changing Media, Changing China. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Stockmann, Daniela. 2010. “Who believes propaganda? Media effects during the anti-Japanese protests in Beijing.” The China Quarterly 202, 269289.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Stockmann, Daniela. 2013. Media Commercialization and Authoritarian Rule in China. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
Stockmann, Daniela, and Gallagher, Mary E.. 2011. “Remote control: how the media sustain authoritarian rule in China.” Comparative Political Studies 44(4), 436467.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Tseng, Huihsin, Chang, Pichuan, Andrew, Galen, Jurafsky, Daniel and Manning, Christopher. 2005. “A conditional random field word segmenter for Sighan Bakeoff.” In Proceedings of the Fourth SIGHAN Workshop on Chinese Language Processing, Scholar
Tsinghua University Research Center on Data and Governance. 2015. “China urban governance survey.”Google Scholar
Wong, Edward. 2014. “In new China, ‘hostile’ West is still derided,” New York Times, 11 November.Google Scholar
Wong, Edward. 2016. “Xi Jinping's news alert: Chinese media must serve the Party,” The New York Times, 22 February.Google Scholar
Wu, Guoguang. 1994. “Command communication: the politics of editorial formulation in the People's Daily .” The China Quarterly 137, 194211.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Yang, Guobin. 2014. “The return of ideology and the future of internet policy in China.” Critical Studies in Media Communication 31, 109113.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Zeng, Jinghan. 2016. “Changing manners of displaying loyalties through ideological campaigns in post-Deng China.” Journal of Contemporary China 25(100), 547562.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Zhao, Yuezhi. 1998. Media, Market, and Democracy in China: Between the Party Line and the Bottom Line. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press.Google Scholar
Zhu, Jonathan J.H., and Huang, Yu. 2002. “Weak links within a centralized national system: inter-provincial relations vis-à-vis news coverage from 1955 to 1996.” China Review 2(1), 149171.Google Scholar