Public engagement in news media spaces on WeChat

All Abstracts > Public engagement in news media spaces on WeChat

Public engagement in news media spaces on WeChat

Authors | Affiliation:
Xuanzi Xu | University of Sydney; Joyce Nip | University of Sydney

Presenting at:
Panel 3D | Algorithmic imagination of social media


This paper examines Chinese internet users’ news engagement on WeChat, the social media platform most used for news access and discussion in current China. Comparisons of multiple measures of user engagement in five news space reveal that some market-oriented news media outlets with a tradition of catering to the audience and market have cultivated public spaces that are much more active than that by official media People’s Daily. A higher percentage of users of market-oriented media prefer to and are encouraged by the media to articulating arguments in the form of comment than that of People’s Daily whereas nationalist WeMedia Zhanhao sits in the middle of the former two groups. Besides, Zhanhao share many similarities with People’s Daily. The two media’s users are more inclined to “liking” each other’s comments as well as the media’s replies to user comments than that of market-oriented media, which is more likely to create a polarised aura in those media spheres. In addition, market-oriented news media themselves tend to engage more actively with their news readers than the People’s Daily and Zhanhao, who are adopting the traditional one-directional propaganda communication style than the participatory communication mode. This research suggests that even in an environment where media grip has been substantially tightened, essential differences between public spheres cultivated by party media (and nationalist citizen start-ups) and that by market-oriented media persist.

About the authors

Xuanzi Xu


Xuanzi completed her PhD at the University of Sydney in 2020 and her study focuses on how ordinary Chinese Internet users’ everyday news participation contributes to the formation of online public spheres in China. More broadly, she is interested in the interplay between the ICTs, civil society and the state and would like to explore the political implication of the unfinished information revolution.

Joyce Nip

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Joyce Nip is an associate professor in Chinese Media Studies in the University of Sydney. Before coming to Sydney, she has had more than 20 years of experience in journalism teaching, research and practice as assistant professor and journalist (in television, radio, newspapers and magazine) mainly in Hong Kong.

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