QSSC: Strengthening Propaganda and the Limits of Media Commercialization in China

Evidence from Millions of Newspaper Articles
Dec 9, 2022, 12:00 pm1:00 pm



Event Description

A defining feature of the information environment in contemporary China is scripted government propaganda---the government directing newspapers to use specific language when reporting on particular events. Yet due to the mix of syndication and scripting, it is difficult to tell if any given article is explicitly government-directed news. Using a newly-collected database of six million newspaper articles from major domestic newspapers in China and linking them to leaked propaganda directives, we identify scripted propaganda coordinated by China's Central Publicity Department from 2012-2021 by examining patterns of text reuse across papers published on the same day. We demonstrate that over the past 10 years, scripting in official party newspapers shows increasing constraint and more focus on explicitly ideological content. While media commercialization has long been touted as a mechanism for government oversight in China, our results indicate that commercial papers do not compensate for changes in official newspapers and follow official scripting at similar rates on topics about domestic politics. In this talk based on joint work with Molly Roberts, Hannah Waight and Yin Yuan, I will focus primarily on the measurement and validation of propaganda.