Table of Contents

Comment Icon0 Do Chinese Internet users prefer their online media consumption to be liberated and self-censored, or have a higher authority control and regulate on their behalf? This particular issue was ambiguously discovered in the Pew Internet study on China’s Internet users, where the apparent 85% of citizen request for government-sanctioned Internet control stemmed from the increasing number of Chinese media reports linking the Internet to unfortunate events, often invasively personal, highly detailed and heavy in human interest (Fallows, 2008a). The question would be clearer if it were to be rephrased as: “Do Chinese citizens actually prefer the Internet to be regulated, or the more accessible news media to be regulated?” By studying the ecology of media choice in greater depth, the survey hopes to reveal the key determinants that lead to the negotiation of Internet regulation between citizens and government.

Comment Icon0 Credibility has been widely researched in the news media sector of the communication field, with measures ranging from the one-dimensional Roper-like questions of Westley and Severin (1964), to the multi-dimensional measures of Markham (1968). Westley and Severin simply asked their respondents one question: “As between television, radio and the newspaper, which one do you feel gives the most accurate and truthful views?”. Progressively, Markham had college students evaluate the credibility of the videotaped newscasters on 55 semantic differential items, where he identified three primary credibility factors – Reliable-Logical, Showmanship and Trustworthiness. Regardless of dimensionality, one common element of this early research is that validity and reliability of measures are rarely discussed. McCroskey and Jenson (1975) factor-analyzed responses to 46 semantic differential items and identified five news-credibility factors – Competence, Character, Sociability, Composure and Extroversion. Gaziano and McGrath (1986) created a more recent measure of media credibility for the American Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE). In a national ASNE-sponsored survey of 1,002 adults aged 18 and older living in the contiguous United States, respondents rated both their daily newspaper and TV news on five-point bipolar-statement scales. Gaziano and McGrath factor-analyzed responses to 16 items about attitudes towards newspaper and TV, and located two factors: Credibility, with 12 items (e.g., fair-unfair); and Social Concerns, with three items (e.g., moral-immoral).

Comment Icon0 With the emergence of the Internet as a significant news medium in the late 1990s, renewed interest in research on media credibility has developed. Most of the studies compared TV, newspaper and online news, in terms of the public’s trust in these media (Kim, Weaver & Willnat, 2000; Flanagin & Metzger, 2000; Johnson & Kaye, 1998; Schweiger, 2000). However, little is known about the determinants of credibility of old and new media, and how credibility of single media affects an overall notion of media credibility.

Comment Icon0 Current studies have shown that traditional sources for news, especially broadcasting, are facing two key trends: attraction to the Internet for news; and loss of a news habit. As of 2000, 33% of Americans said that they regularly used the Internet for news. Between 1998 and 2000, the decline in the television news audience was greater among Internet users than non-Internet users (“Internet Sapping,” 2000). As the media ecology in China appears to be more complex, this research into China’s media landscape offers an opportunity to observe how user choices are based on their perceived news credibility of different media.

Comment Icon0 Gaziano and McGrath’s News Credibility Scale (1986) would be utilized to clarify how Chinese netizens prefer their online media consumption managed. The scale involves a 12-item credibility dimension, and only takes five minutes to complete. The assessment of News Media Credibility consists of “fairness, (un)bias, telling the whole story, accuracy, respect for privacy, watching out after people’s interest, concern for public interest, factuality, and reporter training level” (Andsager, 1990). As mentioned earlier, the scale would help determine this study’s third hypothesis, which states that “[b]elief in Media Credibility has a negative relationship with preference for regulated online news content”.

Chapter 3.4 – News Credibility


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