Comunicar Journal Blog

LIU Jing: Measuring Journalists’ New Media Literacy in the Age of New Media: New Media Literacy Survey in Guangzhou China

This study conducted by a research group from South China Normal University offers a picture of what role the Chinese journalists is playing in the age of new media. The program sought to find out what media literacy levels Chinese journalists are on and investigate how the media literacy of journalists is changing in the age of new media.

Thematic Researchers:

Zhang Xuebo, Professor, South China Normal University, China.

Zhong Xiao, Graduate student, South China Normal University, China.

Today, the power of new media has influenced all aspects of our society, and the digital revolution is transforming everything in the news production. The way how the news is gathered and delivered has gone through several dramatic changes, the line between news producers and news audience starts to blur. Under these circumstances, the concept of media literacy needs to be updated, and producers’ new media literacy has become more vital and more complex than ever in the digital age.

Guangzhou, a southern flourishing city benefited from China’s Reform and Opening Up policy has been selected as the core investigating location for the journalists’ media literacy survey.

The data in the report have been gathered from multiple sources such as questionnaire and dozens of interviews. The number of questionnaire distributed in Guangzhou is 310, among that 302 copies are calculated as the valid questionnaires, the recovery rate is 96.6%, and the effective recovery rate is 97.4%. 124 male journalists and 166 female journalists from Guangzhou have participated in the empirical study. The education level of the journalists is 4.5% of them graduated from junior college, 70% of them are bachelor degree, 24.8% of them are master degree, and 7% of them are doctor degree. The data shows that the level of education is generally high among the group of journalists in Guangzhou, indicating that the adjustment strategy of talent fostering in Guangdong province has yielded great efforts since the last century.

Journalists’ new media literacy is seen to have the proficiency and communication competencies to communicate, respond, and to evaluate correctly within the realm of new media technologies. Here are some encouraging facts we have found in the study survey.


In the past, delivering news to audience in media is the main ability of media literacy for journalists. Since new media are changing how people connect to each other and how news is presented and shared, targeting and interacting with audience have been viewed as important components of journalists’ new media literacy today. The main objectives of the survey mainly focus on the following two points:

Firstly, on the survey questions about the cognition of audience, about 36.2% of the respondents agree that journalists should chase after the issues that most of the audience are interested in, 37.9% of the respondents agree that the presentation form of the news report should be in conformity with audiences’ flavor, and 43.8% of the respondents agree to the statement that reporters should pay attention to the audience’s feedback. It’s a good thing that a majority of journalists are aware of the diversity of our audience and pay attention to the need and feedbacks of audience.

Secondly, in terms of the ability to use new media to gather and spread news, results from the survey indicate that as many as 80.7% of respondents use new media every day, 26.1% of respondents get news and information from Weibo, 29.0% of them obtain information from Wechat, 14.8% of respondents obtain information from blogs, 28.4% of respondents get news from some news apps; 22.8% of respondents obtain information from the audience, 41% from official news channels, and 25.5% from other media channels. There’s no doubt that the ability to handle new media has been a key factor for journalists to promote new media literacy, access to new media has enabled many journalists to accumulate their editions online.

Apart from the encouraging findings we have gained, there are some less favorable findings waiting for the attention. According to the study, there are only 49.7% of respondents do not agree with “reporters can write whatever they are interested in “, only 43.4% of respondents don’t agree with “reporters can writer whatever the audience like “, only 59.7% of respondents do not agree with “the reporter can expose the privacy of others”, only 33.1% of respondents do not agree with “journalists can make up the news reasonably to attract audiences’ attention”.

The results from these answers of the survey were a little bit frustrated since not all the journalists could establish new media literacy and promote independent and fair news. Promoting critical media literacy is essential to deal with millions of messages in the digital age.

All in all, the results of our survey indicate that the majority of journalists are equipped with the essential ability of new media literacy and aware of the importance of new media literacy. However, there are still many journalists who are not familiar with using online media tools and couldn’t meet the need to adapt to the changes. This suggests that more work needs to be done to educate journalists to develop their media literacy. Make media literacy course enter mainstream journalism education is a good way to do.

The changes in journalism are frequently and quickly nowadays, in order to fit into the new media environment, journalists have a greater need for media literacy in the digital age, they have to adapt quickly to the emerging new media paradigm.

Journalists are facing a survive-or-die battle. Fortunately, evidence from the survey shows that journalism is still alive and transforming well in its own way, but only if we continue to focus on the journalists’ new media literacy and educate them in a right way.

Liu Jing

Associate Professor, South China Normal University