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Digital Media Experiments in China: “Revolutionizing” Persuasion under Xi Jinping

  • Maria Repnikova (a1) and Kecheng Fang (a2)
Abstract

With the rapid decline of traditional media in China, the party-state faces the growing challenge of shaping public opinion online. This article engages with one response to this challenge – a state-sanctioned digital media experiment aimed at creating a new form of journalism that appeals to the public and helps to disseminate Party propaganda. We analyse the emergence of a national success story, Shanghai-based model media outlet Pengpai, and its diffusion across different regions. We argue that the synergy between local officials and media entrepreneurs has propelled Pengpai’s national fame. We further demonstrate that while there has been a cross-national attempt to diffuse this model, it has produced mixed results owing to a number of factors, including the superficial commitment of local officials and media professionals. These findings demonstrate that state-sanctioned decentralized experimentation can deliver unpredictable results in the sphere of media policy, and they further question the capacity of the party-state to effectively reinvent public persuasion in the digital age.

随着传统媒体在中国的快速衰落,中共政权在引导网络民意方面面临着越来越严峻的挑战。本文研究的是中共针对这种挑战作出的回应之一:一个由国家批准的数字媒体实验项目,它旨在创造一种新形式的新闻,既能够吸引大众,又可以帮助扩散党的宣传。我们分析了该实验中获得全国性成功的案例——位于上海的澎湃新闻,以及其模式扩散到其他地区的情况。我们认为,地方官员和具备企业家精神的媒体人之间的协同合作,推动了澎湃在全国范围内的声名。我们的研究还显示,在全国范围内推广这一模式的尝试,只取得了不确定的成果,这背后有多重因素,比如一些地方官员和媒体人的投入是非常表面性的。这些研究发现说明,在媒体政策领域,国家批准的去中心化实验是非常不稳定的,这也对中共在数字时代重塑说服工作的能力提出了疑问。

Copyright
Corresponding author
Email: mrepnikova@gsu.edu (corresponding author).
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The China Quarterly
  • ISSN: 0305-7410
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