Within the Boundaries of Politics: News Framing of Sars in China and the United States

By Luther, Catherine A.; Zhou, Xiang | Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly, Winter 2005 | Go to article overview

Within the Boundaries of Politics: News Framing of Sars in China and the United States


Luther, Catherine A., Zhou, Xiang, Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly


This research examined news frames in coverage of SARS by newspapers in China and the United States. The assumption was that with the adoption of Western news values and practices, the Chinese press would exhibit news frames similar to those found in Western news. The results showed the presence of economic consequences, responsibility, conflict, leadership, and human-interest news frames in both the U.S. and Chinese newspapers. Depending on the newspaper's country of origin, however, the degree and manner of the frame uses varied.

Researchers have long understood news as an artifact of a socially constructed reality. In making news, journalists shape a reality that reflects the political economic and ideological boundaries within which they work.1 As such, patterns exist in the underlying messages of news items that reflect the structural and/or ideological elements impinging on journalists and their profession.

Through an examination of consistencies in news content, this research seeks to contribute to the growing body of knowledge concerning China's evolving media system, a system characterized as transitional.2 While strains of political ideology and tradition remain intact, China's current market-oriented economy has resulted in a complex media system where tensions exist between political demands and economic needs. Governmental control mechanisms co-exist with everincreasing commercial incentives.3 Still under the watchful eye of the government, the Chinese news media are increasingly adopting Western news values and practices in order to sustain operations or to flourish in China's authoritarian market economy.4 The question then is: If China's news media are now adopting Western news values and practices, are such values and practices reflected in their content? We explored this question by analyzing how newspapers in China reported the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome or SARS epidemic,5 and comparing it with coverage by U.S. newspapers. Working from the premise that politics often set the parameters of news discourse, we examined through framing analysis the similarities and differences between the Chinese and U.S. news stories. We argued that with China's adoption of Westernstyle reporting, similarities would be evident; the extent of these similarities, however, would be contained by the politics in each nation.

News Values and Practices in China

Earlier research on China's news media6 was based on the idea that the press was a mouthpiece of the central government and an ideological apparatus of the state. This perspective has changed, however, with recognition that economic reforms implemented since the late 1970s have brought about new news-making incentives. Although discussions7 of China's media system do acknowledge continued restrictions in the form of editorial oversight and structural control, scholars8 agree that the news media can no longer be viewed as merely presenting "propaganda designed to manipulate or indoctrinate the Chinese public mind."9 They write of both commercial and ideological forces infringing on Chinese journalists and of the press' new guiding tenet of pursuing marketing objectives while preserving the Chinese Communist Party's ideological control.10

Marketing is of increasing concern to China's news media as growth in number of available news outlets has made commercial survival imperative.11 Experiencing drastic reductions in governmental subsidies, even party newspapers have emulated their competitors' marketing strategies.12 To compete with nonparty mass appeal papers, they have added entertainment sections and established commercialized subsidiary publications.

Chinese journalists have incorporated elements of Western-style news reporting as well.13 Pan and Chan found that while many still regard the party organ news media role as ideal and believe journalism's role is interpreting government policies, a significant number of journalists perceive Western news media as ideal and report adopting Western news values and norms. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Within the Boundaries of Politics: News Framing of Sars in China and the United States
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.