SOFTA LECTURE SERIES: The impact of digital media on the Chinese newspaper press


The Lecture

The diffusion of digital technologies has produced crises for newspapers in many countries around the world. China is no exception, although the crisis struck here later than in the developed world. For the first decade of this century the press was expanding both its readership and advertising revenues. Since 2011, however, the diffusion of smart phones has meant that readers have deserted the printed press for social media and advertisers have moved online in order to reach their potential customers more efficiently. This talk reports findings from the first scholarly research project into the effect of these changes.

It looks in particular at two ways in which the newspaper press is changing. The first concerns internal organization within newspapers, where there have been new departments formed combing editorial and advertising staff, with the explicit mission of using journalistic resources to establish close financial relations with government departments and businesses. The second looks at the various ways in which newspapers groups have developed mew strategies for raising revenues, including the expansion of “side-line” businesses, promotional relationships with lower-level party organizations and the development of “service provision” in the place of “news” as a major priority. Finally, the overall effect of these changes on the kinds of newspaper journalism that are available in China is discussed.


Professor Colin Sparks
Media Studies, Hong Kong Baptist University

Colin Sparks is Professor of Media Studies at Hong Kong Baptist University. His main research work is with mainland Chinese scholars, helping them analyse the development of Chinese media in a period marked by political change, technological innovation, and economic uncertainty. Prior to moving to Hong Kong in 2011, he was for many years Director of the Communication and Media Research Institute at the University of Westminster. He has published several books and many articles on different aspects of media and is a founder and editor of the journal: Media, Culture and Society.