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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
Affiliation:
University of Oxford. Email: kyle.jaros@area.ox.ac.uk.
Jennifer Pan
Affiliation:
Stanford University. Email: jp1@stanford.edu.

Abstract

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.

摘要

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。

Type
Articles
Copyright
Copyright © SOAS University of London 2017 

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