Polls in an authoritarian space: reporting and representing public opinion in China

Yunya Song*, Yin Lu, Tsan-Kuo Chang, Yu Huang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Scopus citations


The news media’s use of polls is by no means the special preserve of democracies. Using the case of Chinese government’s official medium (i.e. the People’s Daily), this study set out to assess how poll results are communicated to the public in China by examining the presentation of methodological information in its poll stories, and how its web counterpart, the People’s Daily Online website, differs in its coverage of polls from a technical point of view. It then examined the outlets’ interpretations of poll results and the media logic the coverage implies in comparison with the political logic that shapes poll reporting in China. Further critical discourse analysis reveals the use of authoritarian populist rhetoric as a discursive strategy in both outlets’ representation of public opinion. Compared with the print outlet, the online outlet showed a more marked inclination to describe a certain class as ‘the people’ in anti-elite rhetoric.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)339-356
Number of pages18
JournalAsian Journal of Communication
Issue number4
StatePublished - 4 Jul 2017


  • Media logic
  • authoritarian
  • offline
  • online
  • opinion polls
  • political logic

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