Interaction Between Traditional Media and Social Media Coverage on Social Issues in China: A Content Analysis
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To what extent does online public opinion and traditional media coverage interact with each other on social issues in China? This research employs a content analysis of 524 Weibo posts and 327 news articles regarding a social incident in China. The researcher uses Chi-square tests to compare the use of alternative media and the frame selection of social media and traditional media in different phases. Social media and traditional media react differently when covering social issues. Social media have a better interaction with traditional media while traditional media make less reference to social media. Additionally, social media and traditional media play different social roles when covering public affairs by selecting different frames. Even if the traditional media are partially free and under the government control, social media can hardly substitute the role of social responsibility of traditional media in defining the problem and issue treatment. Noticeably, the choices of frame in both social media and traditional media are not influenced by their interactions, but instead by different time frames. Discussion focuses on the changes in the roles played by media, government, and Chinese citizens.
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