Table of Contents

Comment Icon0 Using Gaziano and McGrath’s News Credibility Scale, the objective would be to clarify how Chinese netizens prefer their online media consumption managed. Do they prefer media to be liberated and self-censored, or to have a higher authority control and regulate them on their behalf?

Figure 38: Perceived reliability of information across online media channels

Comment Icon0 As seen in Figure 38, Chinese Internet users demonstrated strong trust in information provided on government websites (70.7%), followed by websites belonging to the mainstream media such television and radio networks (66.7%). Interestingly, many trust information received via instant messengers (60.7%), likely due to word of mouth between trusted sources (e.g., friends and family) and the ability to conveniently and instantaneously verify information. This was followed by personal blogs (57.6%), which often serve as an elaborate form of citizen journalism in China. Ranked lower in information reliability was the BBS, or bulletin board systems (56.9%). The BBS is a popular type of online discussion forum for Chinese Internet users, and because such forums can get populated with a variety of postings, it typically gets noisy enough that users have to be discerning about the information they choose to believe. On par with BBS is the reliability of information via emails (56.9%). Since emails can come from anyone who knows a user’s email address, users once again need to exercise caution before believing messages sent to them. While mainstream media sites were ranked highly in reliability, apparently local news websites don’t compare as well as foreign news websites (56.3%), possibly indicating that Chinese Internet users were wellaware of how foreign news coverage could have more breath and credibility. Much like emails, the short messaging service (SMS) in China has become a conduit for spam and fraud, which could explain why it ranked even lower in reliability (52.9%). In an effort to stem a tide of mobile phone spam and frauds, China’s Ministry of Information Industries (MII) began requiring all new mobile subscribers to register with real names and valid identification (Red Herring, October 2006). Chinese Internet users were also wary of falsehood behind online advertising (48.3%), while acknowledging that information shared in chatrooms tended to be unreliable as well (43.1%).

Newspaper TV Radio Internet
Fairness 22.6% 39.6% 7.5% 30.2%
Bias 16.7% 18.5% 7.4% 57.4%
Comprehensiveness 23.6% 30.9% 3.6% 41.8%
Accuracy 35.8% 34.0% 11.3% 18.9%
Invasion of privacy 7.3% 9.1% 1.8% 81.8%
Concern about community 18.2% 20.0% 12.7% 49.1%
Separation of fact from opinion 24.1% 29.6% 11.1% 35.2%
Trustworthiness 30.9% 41.8% 7.3% 20.0%
After public interest 13.2% 39.6% 11.3% 35.8%
Factual 33.3% 37.0% 9.3% 20.4%
Professional reporting 20.4% 59.3% 7.4% 13.0%
Timeliness 3.6% 14.5% 12.7% 69.1%

Comment Icon0 Table 10: Perceived media characteristics by Chinese netizens (highest count in bold)

Comment Icon0 In assessing media credibility, respondents were later asked to select the most appropriate media channel that matched particular media characteristics (see Table 10). Most respondents found newspapers to be the most accurate media channel available (35.8%), while television remained the most fair (39.6%), trustworthy (41.8%), of public interest (39.6%), most factual (37%), and most professional in reporting (59.3%). The Internet on the whole appeared most biased (57.4%), but it was also known to be most comprehensive (41.8%), and likely to tell the whole story. As the strongest attribute of any media channel, respondents noted the Internet community’s malicious ability for invasion of privacy (81.8%), which related back to the “human flesh search engines” predicament mentioned earlier. As a social balance, the Internet was also viewed as a means to reflect community concerns (49.1%), while somewhat affording the communal ability to separate fact from opinion (49.1%). As the second strongest attribute of any media channel, the Internet was also seen as the most timely resource (69.1%), and was well-known for being a convenient platform for breaking news.

Chapter 9.1.5 – News Credibility


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