Local News Deserts in China: The Role of Social Media and Personal Communication Networks

Zixue Tai, Bai He, Jianping Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The field of local news is often associated with news deserts, commonly defined as geo‐based communities without newspapers or other legacy media as providers of locally oriented news and civic information. This phenomenon is expanding in global society due to the diminishing presence of newspapers at moments of accelerated digitization. This study examines the multiplex nature of news deserts in rural and suburban areas in China. Data were collected through a multi‐methods approach combining two focus groups and 44 semi‐structured in‐depth interviews. Patterns of engagement among inter-viewees reveal that smartphone‐based social media applications and digital platforms function as viable sources of news, and incidental exposure to news has become the norm of digital news use. Government‐orchestrated convergent media services and WeChat channels are preferred choices by most research participants for local news. We argue that a media ecology perspective may be a productive approach to understanding community news and local newspapers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)426-436
Number of pages11
JournalMedia and Communication
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 by the author(s); licensee Cogitatio Press (Lisbon, Portugal).


  • China
  • Convergent Media
  • WeChat
  • community news
  • media ecology
  • news desert
  • social media

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication


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