The pioneers of online journalism came up in the early 1900s (Bradshaw, 2018), among whom VICE and China Daily were standing on the same starting line. The divergence of their development over the past decades will be shown in the following biographies of each and news stories analysis of George Pell’s case published on the same date respectively.
VICE NEWS: DESPISED BY LEGACY MEDIA?
VICE is a private owned companyfounded in 1994 in Montreal, Canada. Born as a magazine, VICE media successfully transformed to digital services with an aggressive expansion to over 80 countries, becoming one of the most influential youth medias in the world (Sweney, 2016).
“Putting on a safari hat and looking at some poop”, said David Carr from The New York Times, Vice News is however unwelcomed by legacy media (Byers, 2014). Vice News wintwo Peabody Awardsfor documentaries, The Islamic State and Last Chance High in 2014.
Vice News target a young influential, 18 to 34-year-old Millennials, 74% of whose qualifications exceed a high-school education; over half of whom earn more than 75K dollars annually; they’re defined as adventurous, concerned, and reliant on internet (VICE Media Kit, 2018).
One thing to be noticed is that female only accounts for 27% of Vice news readers, compared to 64% as a whole to Vice.
Correspondingly, Vice News promotes itself with covering “underreported stories” (VICE Media Kit, 2016). It’s also unique as producing quality video project online while few news organisations are capable of that (Byer, 2014).
CHINA DAILY: THE LEAST PROFESSIONAL MAINSTREAM MEDIA?
By contrast, China Daily is a government owned media, ran by State Council information Office of China. Established in 1981, China Daily has obtained a global print circulation of 900,000 and has becomed the most influential English paper in China (“About us”, 2018).
Also, in 1994, China daily launched its website, along with the early adopters of online journalism, and released its first e-paper in the following year. More than 15 million readers from 180 countries have downloaded the China Daily app, and its PV reaches 52 million (“About us”, 2018).
China Daily serves as a propagandist in providing insight into China for the world. It accordingly targets English readers at home and abroad, and also those English learners in China. China Daily claims to have powerful audience, 93% of whom have bachelor or master’s degree, and near half of whose annual income above 36K dollars (China Daily Media Kit, 2012).
In terms of publishing context, China Daily mainly focuses on Domestic politics news for propagandistic purpose while Vice News covers international stories to youth audience.
Compared to Vice’s independent and bold news style, China Daily is inflexible and fusty. Although China Daily rode the trend of online journalism 10 years earlier than Vice News, it works worse in playing multimedia platform.
Interestingly, China Daily requires paid subscriptions, as Vice News is subscribed for free online.
WHO’S WORSE? COMPARISON ANALYSIS AND SUGGESTIONS
Foreword: both news stories released on 26 February 2019, reported the new progress of George Pell’s case, but that of Vice News is self-produced and that posted on China Daily website is a raw news from Associated Press.
- Journalism Writing
Tittle and subtitle: At first glance, China Daily put a more eye-catching tittle with key words “Most senior Catholic” and “convicted”, likewise Vice News set them in subtitle. China Daily should have capitalized the initial letter of tittle and included a subtitle. I recommend adding information of “who”, “what” and “when”: “Cardinal George Pell is found guilty of sexually abusing two boys 25 years ago”. Vice News performed normal but clear tittle and subtitle.
Narrative style and contents: China Daily did better in writing style with sharp and concise paragraphs for online journalism, while Vice News is more like a story with heavy lines. The contents and sources they choose lead to the variation in narrative styles.
Vice News pieces out the story by linking to reports of The Guardian and ABC, so it appears to be a conclusion of what others has reported. Only the first paragraph matches to the tittle, other paragraphs are more like a brief feature rather than breaking news.
On the other hand, China Daily is partial to display what happened on the day when George Pell was found guilty, together with court information, contributing a more effective story.
I’m apprehensive that Vice News is trying to meet story appeal to youth readers, but in terms of “Brevity” (Bradshaw, 2018, p.77), Associated Press shows its speediness and accuracy in news production, and I think that’s why China Daily adapts it.
- Both Scannability Needs Improvement
Bradshaw (2018) points out that scannabilityis vital to the effectiveness of online journalism. Both stories did a poor job in terms of scannability, which readers find uneasy to pick up key points, and also unfriendly to visual impaired people.
According to Bradshaw (2018)’s techniques and Martin (2018)’s tips of improving the scannability, here’re the improvement suggestions:
For Vice, it serves the target youth audience with quick reading.
- Use subheadings to separate paragraphsinto three parts for a better visual engagement: George Pell found guilty, what George Pell has done, and how he reacted to the allegations.
- Rewrite the lead: Cardinal George Pell, once Australia’s most senior Catholic cleric, has been found guilty of five charges of child sexual abuse after a trial in Melbourne.
- Rewrite hyperlinks:
As mentioned above, those links used in the story make it seems like a summary report of other news organization. For example, change “ABC” to “taken into custody”.
For China Daily, it’s a raw story from AP, so hyperlinks will not be considered:
- Use bullet point to conclude what the article mainly delivers in the beginning:
- Unanimous act of George Pell
- Pell’s facing prison term in court
- Precedent of Cardinal sexually abuse
- Better use of hypertextto link bullet points above to corresponding content
- Flaws of Online Delivery
Similarly, both stories fail in multimediality, which only one picture is included in each story (Martin, 2018). The neglect is acceptable for China Daily since it’s a new story from AP, which would not include videos and links, etc., but for Vice News the carelessness should be blame.
As an outstanding online video producer, Vice News should improve multimedia in story delivering. The image of Vice’s story is out of time, a portrait of George Pell in 2012, from Wikipedia. There resource constraints of Pell’s attending the court with cc licence, since those are owned by other news organizations. Referring to Buzzfeed, a picture of the crime scene, the sacristy, could cause appalling effect.
Community is the “lifeblood” of journalism of all time (Bradshaw, 2018, p.82). Vice News’ story provides hyperlinks to follow the writer’s Twitter and Instagram and encourages readers to subscribe newsletter, accounting for a stronger user engagement.
On the contrary, China Daily doesn’t include any journalist information or open discussion in the story. The share buttons to social media platforms also doesn’t fulfil a function, which links to mistakenly objects, whereas Vice’s story performs better functionality in Vice story where every hyperlink works well.
CONCLUSION: IT’S TIME TO PICK A WINNER
Overall, as a commercial digital born media, Vice News acts better performance in trans media interactivity and functionality. It’s based on a millennial audience who rely on internet and multi-media platforms. In the mobile terminal, Vice News even highlights the time span of every story for quick reading purpose. Nevertheless, the news story of George Pell’s case shows a lack of preciseness in online journalism.
Comparingly, China Daily is a government owned media, which commits a serious journalism for propagandistic effect. The AP news posted on China Daily website displays the accuracy of legacy media. However, China Daily fails to catch up the trend of developing a multi-media, communitive and interactivity media even though it started with the early pioneers of online journalism.
Picking up who does better in reporting the George Pell’s case is a real dilemma. What do you think?
Bradshaw, P. (2018). The online journalism handbook : skills to survive and thrive in the digital age (Second edition.). London, [England] ;: Routledge.
Butler, G. (2019, February 26). Vice News, Cardinal George Pell has Been Found Guilty of Child Sexual Abuse. Retrieved from https://www.vice.com/en_au/article/wjm48b/cardinal-george-pell-has-been-found-guilty-of-child-sexual-abuse
Byers, D. (2014, February 26). Vice News, Where Video Works. Retrieved from https://www.politico.com/blogs/media/2014/02/vice-news-where-video-works-184058
China Daily. (2019, February 26). Most senior Catholic charged with child sex abuse convicted. Retrieved from http://global.chinadaily.com.cn/a/201902/26/WS5c74a89aa3106c65c34eb70c.html
China Daily Website Media Kit [PDF]. (n.d.). CHINADAILY. Retrieved from http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/ad/html/rate/CDI-Mediakit-ENG201210.pdf
Martin, Fiona, ‘Week 2: Features, Forms and Functions’, Powerpoint, accessed via Canvas on 28/03/19.
Mojica, J. (2015, April 21). VICE News Wins Two Peabody Awards. Retrieved from https://news.vice.com/en_us/article/59emx3/vice-news-wins-two-peabody-awards
Sweney, M. (2016, June 22). Vice to launch in more than 50 new countries. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/media/2016/jun/22/vice-to-launch-in-more-than-50-new-countries
Vice Digital Media Kit [PDF]. (2016, January). VICE.
VICE Mediakit. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://kit.vice.com/