US-China trade war: a comparative analysis of new articles covered by China Daily and BuzzFeed

Premier Li is talking at the press conference. Copyright: Jason Lee / Reuters.

 

With the rapid development of the internet and digital technology today, web 2.0 has innovated how legacy journalism traditionally operates, online journalism plays a progressively important role in daily life and it changes the way news publication operates (Stanyer, 2009).

This article will compare the news on Chinese Premier Li reaction of the China-US trade war issues this year covered by China Daily, a mainstream media, with a news article reported the similar situation occurred same time last year covered by Buzzfeed, a digital-born media. Biography of the websites and comparative analysis with regards to journalism writing, online as well as technical delivery will be conducted.

What are these two new services about?

 

Masthead of China Daily

According to China Daily’s Newspaper Media Kit, China Daily is the first national English-language newspaper in China, which established in 1981 when China started its reformation and adopted open policy catering to the increasing demand from foreigners who want to know more about China. China Daily would be regarded as a state-run newspaper. The content of the newspaper is widely used as a guide to Chinese government policy. As a result, its political tendency to Communist Party of China is clear. However, in terms of editorial policies, China daily is slightly more liberal than most Chinese newspapers (Heuvel & Dennis, 1993). As soon as the establishment of its online version in December 1995, it became the earliest English-language news website and the most influential web portal in the nation.

 

Masthead of BuzzFeed

BuzzFeed is an American based internet media company focusing on digital media. It was founded in 2006 by Jonah Peretti, who is also the previous co-founder of the Huffington Post (Tandoc, 2018). It is initially designed to run as a lab to track viral contents on the internet. But it started to get more news and political contents after Ben Smith, who used to be a part of politico.com, was assigned as chief editor in 2011(ibid.). Today it has grown into a media as well as technology company globally offering coverage on topics including politics, business, animals and DIY (Lafrance & Meyer, 2015). As stated by Media Bias Check, BuzzFeed is claimed to have slight to moderate liberal bias.

 

Who visit these two websites the most?

Content strategies for good journalism always begin with identifying the audience of the websites (Bradshaw& Rhumba, 2017).

China Daily – As reported by SimilarWeb, the website generated exceeding 20 million viewers overall for the past half year. According to Alexa, more than 95% of the audience are from China, with the female audience are slightly over-presented. It appears to appeal particular attention from elder people who are above 65, then between 55 to 64 age group. Besides, people from 25 to 34 age group, who are the backbone of the country’s labor force, ranked the thirds among visits. Also, most of the users own $30k to $60k of income. As reported by Newspaper Media Kit, the audiences are most educated populations who are graduated from College, with Master degree graduates take up to 61%. It especially attracts businessman respect of audience occupation. Besides, among an organization, more than 10% of clerks will view the website comparing to decision-makers and departmental managers, who rank the second and the third place respectively.

China Daily’s audience geography
Screenshot of China Daily’s audience demographics from Alexa
Screenshot of China Daily’s readership from Newspaper Media Kit

 

BuzzFeed – They currently possess over 650 million of regular audience globally and reach over 9 billion of views per month to their content. As reported in SimilarWeb, it has almost 185 million of the total visit for the past 6 months.

According to Alexa, the readers of BuzzFeed are predominantly from the U.S. which occupies 58% of the audience. While Britain ranks the second with more than 50% less visit. Female users are significantly greater than the male possibly due to the entertainment nature of the site. Young generation which falls in the range of 18 to 34 is the main force of viewing, with most of the audience own college level of education and usually gain $30k to $60k of income.

 

BuzzFeed’s audience geography

 

Screenshot of BuzzFeed’s audience demographics from Alexa

  

What can be found from comparative analysis?

Journalism writing analysis

Writing styles

Both articles draw Premier Li’s press statement from two different press conferences. But Buzzfeed’s headline is more newsworthy and better for Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) comparing to China Daily, because it states some key factors of the event, such as WHO (The Chinese Premier), WHAT (says…), WHY (trade war), and contains keywords that are searchable such as “Chinese Premier” and “trade war”. While China Daily is simply copying from XinHua agency, from headline to the content, there is little variance between most news reports on the same conference, journalists have no authority to develop their own content strategies, which made media become a complete political instrument and Party’s mouthpiece. Using statement from the Premier as a title is not too rational. Premier Li, it does not even mention which country’s premier, which is hard to be searched.

Besides, they both adopted inverted pyramid writing style which emphasized the key factors of the occurred events succinctly in Lead and try to keep one sentence per paragraph for the rest of the articles. However, according to the brevity from BASIC principle (Bradshaw& Rhumba, 2017), the one from China Daily could have been shorter. It spends some words explaining the deficit between China and America, for which a link to another website which provides in-depth background information would have worked better. Further, it repeats many of the words from Premier Li said on the press conference, which can be replaced by a short video.

 

Online delivery

Comparing to the Buzzfeed, China Daily has an obvious shortage regards to hypertextuality, multimediality and interactivity.

Hypertextuality

Both articles have rare embedded links.

China Daily – there is no embedded link in the article. Embed profile links to the author’s by-line, Zhang YunbiThis could allow readers to check other articles written by the same author, and increase the creditability of the author and his article. Also, author’s Email contacts could have been available for the purpose of business contact and readers’ inquiries.

Besides, a link to an article which has more details to the insights of the trade war can better remind readers. Moreover, it fails to embed links to some of the key statistics as a reference or expansion of the story.

BuzzFeed – the only embedded links in the Buzzfeed’s article is the by-line which links to a short biography of Megha Rajagopalan who is the author. Similar to China Daily, a background article could provide more insights.

 

Multimediality

Multimediality indicated that online journalism can generally use more than one medium, for instance, images, texts, videos, audios or combinations (Bradshaw & Rhumba, 2017). It can better illustrate the story and vivify reading experience. Visuals are extremely important especially for online journalism and videos can divide the content for better reading (Bradshaw& Rhumba, 2017).

China Daily – the article only involved the plain text which tends to make readers feel dull and stuffy. A picture of the Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in the conference should have set as a thumbnail as well as the feature image of the story like Buzzfeed does. Further, because this story was derived from a statement made by the Premier in the press conference, a short video would better demonstrate the situation. There are several conference videos are available online, with one of the YouTube video suits the most in term of length and clarity. Additionally, videos from YouTube are generally embedded more easily and tend to last longer (Blattberg, 2015). However, considering the most of the audience are from mainland China, where access to YouTube videos are restrained due to the Great Firewall, only a video originally from CCTV and published in chinanews.com website can be used here. But it may needs editors to add English subtitles for the convenience of foreign readers.

BuzzFeed – it set a photo of Premier Li as a feature image for the story but the caption has been neglected. In such a video-heavily website, no video was inserted for this article, probably due to the unavailability of the related video since the news was reported so timely. The earliest video can be found online is a YouTube video that upload on 20 of March, which was 5 days later than the publishing of the article.

 

Interactivity  

Social sharing buttons from China Daily
Social sharing buttons from BuzzFeed

Both articles are available to be shared by readers via various social media platforms. However, Buzzfeed has more options and put those social sharing buttons both on the top and end of the article, while China Daily only has it on the upper left with merely four options. In addition, Buzzfeed has an open comment area, while China Daily do not have comment area may be due to its strict internet control.

 

Technical delivery

 

Above the fold of China Daily

 

China Daily – China Daily has a well-structured content hierarchy, which contains menu and sub-menu at the header of the homepage to navigate users.

The slider of China Daily

An images slider of the main news is also provided.

News of President Xi always stays in the most eye-catching central place, which aligns with its political tendency. It has breadcrumb navigations for every article, for example, in this one, it has “Home/China/Top News” staying upper left, which allows readers to identify their locations quickly.

 

 

Above the fold of BuzzFeed
Sections hid under hamburger menu

 

BuzzFeed – comparing to China Daily, it adopts a rather different content hierarchy.

A various range of topic section can be found under the right hamburger menu, the “More”.

It takes more of a social media format which readers generally scroll down to see which news there are interested. Nonetheless, it has no breadcrumb navigation which may cause confusion of the users.

 

 

 

Conclusion

In conclusion, comparing to China Daily, Buzzfeed’s article performs better in terms of the functions and features online journalism should possess.

 

SID: 440067236

Words count: 1615 (10% leeway of 1500)

 

Reference

Blattberg, E. (2015, February 13). Inside the New York Times Instagram strategy. Digiday. Retrieved from http:// digiday.com/publishers/nytimes-instagram-strategy

Bradshaw, P. & Rhumba, L. (2017). The online journalism handbook: skills to survive and thrive in the digital age. New York, America: Routledge.

Heuvel, J. V. & Dennis, E. E. (1993). The Unfolding Lotus: East Asia’s Changing Media: a Report of the Freedom Forum Media Studies Center at Columbia University in the City of New York. Michigan, America: The Center.

Lafrance, A. & Meyer, R. (2015, April 15). The Eternal Return of BuzzFeed. The Atlantic. Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2015/04/the-eternal-return-of-buzzfeed/390270/

Stanyer, J. (2009). Web 2.0 and the transformation of news and journalism. In A. Chadwick & P. N. Howard (Ed.), Routledge handbook of Internet politics (pp. 201-213). London, England: Routledge.

Tandoc, E. C. (2018). Five ways BuzzFeed is preserving (or transforming) the journalistic field. Journalism, 19(2), 200-216. doi:10.1177/1464884917691785

Jianan Dong
About Jianan Dong 4 Articles
Janice is currently doing her Master degree in Media Practice at the University of Sydney. She has a strong interest in journalism. With a bachelor of Commerce, major in Accounting and Finance, Janice is keen to pursue a career to combine her finance knowledge and journalism skills.

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