The Personalized and Personal “Mass” Media – From “We-Broadcast” to “We-Chat”: Reflection on the Case of Bi Fujian Incident

The Personalized and Personal “Mass” Media – From “We-Broadcast” to “We-Chat”: Reflection on the Case of Bi Fujian Incident

Yu Zhang (New York Institute of Technology, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0212-8.ch003
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China's two major social media, the microblog Weibo and the messaging service WeChat have played important roles in representing citizens' voices and bringing about social changes. They often grow an ordinary event into a national debate as in the case of the Bi Fujian incident. They have also turned ordinary Chinese citizens into amateur reporters, empowering them to influence on issues that matter to them. An equalizer of power and discourse opportunity, the personalized and personal social media “weapons” are delivering the much needed social justice and consolation to the Chinese citizens amid widespread injustice, inequality, hypocrisy, indifference and corruption in the Chinese society.
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Literature Review

In China’s communication and political systems, the media are instruments through which the Party propagates its ideologies and government policies (Pan, 2000). However, with the rapid development of the social media, optimism and even excitement about its ability to derail state agenda-setting capacity and transfer some of that agenda setting power to the public has been high (Chiu, Ip, & Silverman, 2012). As the “singing” incident demonstrates, citizen-generated events on social media has become an important news source for professional media, such as the official Xinhua News Agency, People’s Daily and CCTV, which all have covered this case. Some other sensitive issues, such as the sudden collapsing of residential buildings, have also attracted national media who join the social media to demand the government agencies and authorities to be more accountable and transparent.

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