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China: Newspapers get low ratings in terms of two-way communication

NEWSPAPERS may change a bit to become more appealing to highbrows who seek more dialogue-driven communication instead of one-way education.

According to a recent survey published by Edelman, a global public relations firm, newspapers received relatively low rates of trust among important people who have the power to make decisions in China.

The survey was conducted by Edelman in partnership with Harris Interactive Inc, a research firm.

The survey said television remained the most trustworthy media source as 49 percent of respondents gave it the credit while Web-based media was the runner-up with 34 percent.

In comparison, newspapers received only 17 percent support - better than radio which got none.

The survey interviewed more than 1,050 Asian (including 140 Chinese) members of what it called "stakeholder groups," like government officials, senior business executives, institutional investors, media representatives, NGO members and upscale consumers.

The survey defined them as influential people whose opinion might lead others - thus it was important to understand their criteria of what was trustworthy.

"In the US, people trust print media in particular. But in China, major newspapers offer a kind of one-way communication," said president of Edelman's Asia Pacific region Alan VanderMolen, who tried to offer an explanation.

Dialogue-driven

"Stakeholders usually trust media that cover multi-faceted issues and give multiple points of views. That is why Web-based media run far ahead of the newspapers. Their service is dialogue-driven. We call it the 'democratization' of information."

It seemed Chinese people cherished the access to efficient communication - as blogging was also proved to be much more popular in China's mainland than in other Asian markets such as Australia, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, South Korea, Singapore and Taiwan, which the survey also covered.

In China's mainland, 83 percent of respondents were aware of the term "blogging" versus 70 percent in the Asia Pacific region, and 88 percent of Chinese stakeholders had done blogging themselves versus 68 percent in the region.

It might be true that many Chinese media outlets used to deliver news not strictly catering to market needs.

To meet the challenges of being commercialized, many Chinese media have reforms under way.

They also have to face fierce market competition now and fight to win audience, whose demand they can't afford to ignore.

As for the survey, at least two points need to be taken into consideration.

One is that a large part of the information on the Website comes from newspapers. So the news that respondents trust stems from the print media.

The other is that many newspapers have their own Websites, whose credibility is transferred from the reputation of the print media who set them up.

"We think the content of newspapers will be increasingly distributed through other channels, such as computer or mobile phones," said VanderMolen. "It is just a change of means, but not the quality and credibility of the information."

The survey does release some important points that newspapers should heed.

First, the newspaper industry requires to be further segmented, with some responsible for delivering what the government wants to convey and some to serve the needs of the readers.

Second, newspapers should accelerate the pace of merging with other media, especially Websites, to encourage the participation of readers and understand their preference in the way of receiving information.

They should be prepared for the changes.

Third, newspapers might make the process of information delivery more transparent, from the source of the information to those it may benefit.

Transparency can help raise the quality of the information and win people's trust.

Date posted: February 2, 2007 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 8