'Attention is power', can it change news placement? A study of news production on a digital-only media in China


The rapid development of online media as a major location for news consumption has stimulated a variety of debates about how journalism is changing in the Internet era. This study employed content analysis to examine one of the hot topics, the interactions between editors and online consumers in news production on a digital-only news platform. News stories were collected from PearVideo, a commercial digital news media in China, from October 26, 2019 to November 13, 2019, constructing a final sample of 1452 unique news stories. One-way ANOVA and binary logistic regression were tested to answer two questions: (a) how do editors and online consumers rank various news topics? (b) does online news consumers’ rank have an effective prediction on news placement of a digital-only news media in a longer term?

The data shows that there is an interest disparity between editors and online consumers. Editors selected more and ranked higher news stories on public affairs while online consumers preferred news stories on non-public affairs. More importantly, this study finds that news placement can be effectively influenced by editors’ news rank and page enduring but not by online consumers’ news rank. Thus, this study argues that not all the online consumers of digital news platforms at present have a powerful role in the process of digital news production.