Web news in China : a new hierarchy of centrality? : an analysis of the linking pattern of China’s online news network



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The present study explored three questions: What is the linking pattern of China’s cyber news space? What are the factors that contribute to this pattern? And what is the distribution of links in real geographic places? The concept of the cyber news space refers to the globally connected networks of online news production. It is a tool to understand the spatial distribution of online news production and the map of the world as presented in the media.
This study is a content analysis of news Webpages from China’s four leading commercial portals. It sampled about 900 news Webpages during the spring of 2008. China’s commercial portals are news aggregators and distributors. They are the gatekeepers of China’s cyber news space. On their news Webpages there is one hyperlink that leads to the original publisher of the story. These links provide a clue of how news organizations were connected online. The content analysis coded these links and other information such as media type, production sites and locations of stories. This study found that the there was a pattern of concentration in terms of the distribution of links among online news organizations. A multiple regression model was used to test the factors that may contribute to this pattern. It was found that geographic location of news organizations was such a factor. The more central a news organization was located, the more links it attracted from the portals. In addition, this study also analyzed the distribution of links among difference provinces (or province level administrations) of China. It found that Beijing, Chongqing, Guangdong, Jilin, and Shanghai are hubs, while more remote provinces, such as Xinjiang, and Guizhou were largely bypassed.