Comparative Online News Journalism Analysis
China Daily and Axios
Word Count: 1592
I will compare two articles related to European drought taken from China Daily and Axios. I will start with a short biography of the aiming publication and analyze the content production, online delivery and techniques used in each story and their effectiveness. According to their comparison, I will identify which article is the more effective piece of online journalism.
News Story 1: Drought in Europe hits crops, power output (China Daily)
China Daily, established in 1981, is owned by the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Propaganda Department and has the largest print circulation of any English-language newspaper in China, with an average daily circulation of more than 200,000 (China Daily, n.d.).
China Daily is headquartered in Beijing and has branch offices in most major Chinese cities as well as several major foreign cities such as New York, Washington, and London. The organization employs about 400 employees, and the newspaper’s linguistic standards are assured by foreign staff from the US, the UK, Canada, and Australia (China Daily,n.d.).
China Daily is dedicated to showing China’s global image to the world and integrating the country with the international community. It is often called the ” instrument of China’s public diplomacy” (Hartig, 2019)
The readers are primarily high-level officials, diplomats, executives, and academics in both China and the rest of the world (China Daily, n.d.).
According to SimilarWeb (2023), the audience of China daily is 57.90% male and 42.10% female. The largest visitor age group is 25 – 34 years old. The core audiences come from China and the US.
Writing and content production
This story is from the headline of the European news column of China Daily. The heading summarizes the focus of the news with only seven words and the entire article follows the inversive pyramid structure and starts with a clear summary.
The journalist aims to keep fair and balanced. The language is fair and direct, and he employs not a few direct quotes from experts and official institutions in the article, such as The Telegraph, Italy’s Farmers’ Association, which increased the accuracy and source credibility of the content. However, the journalist cites a source ambiguously without revealing the identity, which is an oversight.
This 500 words news story is relatively long, but the author does not insert bolded subheadings in the text to help readers to scan efficiently. When a large amount of text comes into sight, it is easy for readers to miss the point or even shorten the duration of visit.
The news lacks brevity as well, and there is room for improvement in breaking up the paragraphs, the longest paragraph is even over five lines so it looks hard to read and readers would skip them. It would be better to ‘chunk’ a longer piece into a series of shorter parts. Chunking can increase the likelihood of each section of an article being found and enhance search engine optimization potential (Bradshaw & Rohumaa, 2017).
The author cites the predictive information experts stated at the end, which would attract the attention of ordinary readers because changes in food prices are closely related to people’s lives, but there is not an embedded hyperlink.
There is not any hyperlink used in the text, which would cause readers to doubt the authenticity of the content even if the source has been indicated. It is necessary for some data or sources mentioned in this article to be linked, like “France recently experiencing 32 consecutive rainless days”, “In a study released in January”, etc.
There is only one still image of cracked earth on the exposed bed of a river shown in the article, the image itself adds little interest to the story and does not make audiences feel a strong visual impact. Apart from that, the article does not have any other audio-visual enhancement elements.
The news story lacks interactivity with readers to some extent. Greenwald and Fillion (2017) state that to ensure that journalists engage in a two-way dialogue with readers rather than monologues, vibrant comment sections have been vital to developing online communities. Compared with most news websites that have set comment sections, China Daily turns off it, but it does not rule out the possibility of concern about online conversations turning into a hostile relationship.
However, the name of the author is not clickable, audiences have no way to further know the details of the author. It would not be helpful for increasing interactivity and openness.
Sharing the story across various platforms is one of the few user-integrated features, for instance, Facebook, Twitter, and Weibo, but it can’t be shared through email.
The overall layout of the web page is reasonable and clean and navigation is clear thanks to hierarchical menu labeling.
There is not any advertisement distracting readers but some different columns of recommended news, like “Most Viewed in 24 Hours”, “Special Coverage”, etc, are arranged neatly around the article.
At the top, it adds some channels directly accessible to the different language versions, which is friendly to readers from multiple countries.
In addition, after reading the article, it creates a clickable button ” BACK TO THE TOP” at the end of the page, which saves time by skipping the step of re-scrolling the mouse forward to return to the top of the page.
News Story 2: Drought threatens 60% of EU and U.K. as Europe faces “critical situation” (Axios)
Axios is an American news website covering local news, politics, health, climate, media, business, sports, world, and science. It is based in Arlington and owned by Axios Media, which was founded in 2016 and was acquired by Cox Enterprises in August 2022 (ARLnow,2022).
Native advertising and sponsored newsletters are the primary revenue generators for Axios. This organization has more than 400 employees and employs 35 newsletter writers. The mission of Axios is “Axios gets you smarter, faster on what matters.”
Over 1.5 million people across 24+ cities subscribe to Axios Local (Axios,2023), according to the demographics of Axios offered by SimilarWeb, the gender distribution of audiences is 63.44% male and 36.56% female. The largest visitor age group is 25 – 34 years old. The highest traffic (88%) comes from the US.
Writing and content production
This news article was written more logically and completely than China Daily.
The heading adds the number “60%” and quotation marks “critical situation” to emphasize the extent of the damage and urgent incidents caused by the drought, which easily catches readers’ eyes.
This story also follows the ‘inverted pyramid’ structure recommended in traditional news writing, but where it differs from the CD’s story is that it has subheadings and Bullet lists. The bolded words in this article can be seen as subheadings to break up an article. These should be mini-headlines signaling the content to come and providing readers with entry points into the text (Bradshaw & Rohumaa, 2017), making the structure and focus of the story more obvious, and helping readers quickly browse and grasp the main content of the article. What’s more, under some headings, they have a list of bullet lists that attract readers’ attention as soon as they look at the page.
As the story of CD does, the author of this story ends the story by predicting the drought conditions from this week into next week as well, but he adds links to pieces of evidence in almost every sentence, which is more persuasive and transparent.
What is better than the story of CD is that the Axios’ story not only quotes numerous official institutions and experts in an attempt to display fairness and balance, but all embeds related hyperlinks to help readers better understand the sources of evidence that increase the transparency of the article.
At the beginning of the article, the author attached a map of Europe showing the severity of the drought in different regions. The large red area marked in the picture would give readers a strong visual impact.
More importantly, the author specially set up a photo display area at the end of the article to show how severe the drought was, they are extensively captioned and attributed to providing further context. The ultimate effect of these non-textual illustrations is to draw people’s eyes down the page and engage them for longer (Bradshaw & Rohumaa, 2017).
Axios does not display a comment section as well, but it focuses on other aspects to increase interactivity. There is an embedded link in the author’s name, the like shows his other articles, and email address thus readers can directly communicate with him.
The story can be shared on popular social media platforms, including through email. Besides, there is an embedded Twitter post in the news, readers can click it to engage in comments, sometimes this is more effective than simply linking (Bradshaw & Rohumaa, 2017).
The Web page has only a horizontal navigation bar on the top, Aixos is cleaner and more useable in comparison with China Daily. Obviously, it seems more focused on the news story itself because the two sides of the news do not have any links and pictures, it just remains blank to make people concentrate on reading. It just presents the recommended deeper news at the very end of the page.
It is clear that the news story of Axios is more effective based on the above analysis. Because it is more comprehensive and includes more credible information from more sources and more perspectives and expertise that exhibit more reportorial effort.
ARLnow. (2022). Following $525 million sale, Clarendon-based Axios aims to make its local newsletters ubiquitous. https://www.arlnow.com/2022/09/15/following-525-million-sale-clarendon-based-axios-aims-to-make-its-local-newsletters-ubiquitous/
Axios. (2023). Axios Expands Local Coverage to Two New Cities. https://www.axios.com/press-past-releases/axios-expands-local-coverage-to-two-new-cities
Axios. (n.d.). About us. https://www.axios.com/about
Bradshaw, P., & Rohumaa, L. (2017). The online journalism handbook: Skills to survive and thrive in the digital age. Taylor & Francis Group.
China Daily. (n.d.). About us. https://www.chinadaily.com.cn/english/static/aboutchinadaily.html
Falconer, R., Freedman, A. (2022). Drought threatens 60% of EU and U.K. as Europe faces “critical situation”. Axios. https://www.axios.com/2022/08/10/drought-european-union-uk-threat-heat-climate-crisis
Greenwald, G., Fillion, R. M. (2017). Comment sections are essential for news sites. We’re making changes to improve ours. The Intercept_.
Gale, E. (2023). Drought in Europe hits crops, power output. China Daily. https://www.chinadaily.com.cn/a/202303/07/WS640695efa31057c47ebb2b90.html
Hartig, F. (2019). Rethinking China’s global ‘propaganda’ blitz. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/1742766519871694
Word Count: 263
This news article is from the headline of the European news column of China Daily. The news lacks brevity, and there is room for improvement in breaking up the paragraphs, the longest paragraph is even over five lines so they look hard to read and readers would skip them. My advice is to break long paragraphs down into shorter ones.
I agree with the author citing the predictive information experts said at the end of the article, which can more effectively attract the attention of ordinary readers because changes in food prices are closely related to people’s lives. If possible, it would be more persuasive to embed a link to access some relative evidence or analysis.
There isn’t any hyperlink used in the whole text, I think some data or sources mentioned in this article should be added links.
There is only one photo of cracked earth on the exposed bed of a river shown in the article, it is hard to make audiences feel a strong visual impact. So I suggest showing several pictures of drought-affected crops and farms or adding a video to help the audience feel the drought’s effects more intuitively and visually.
The news story lacks interactivity with readers, it could be improved by adding a comment section below the news story so readers can interact with the journalist and other audiences. Though this article marked the detailed name of the author, it is not accessible, it can be helpful to incorporate a hyperlink accessible to an introduction of the author to increase transparency.