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Philine Widmer (ETH Zürich)

9 January 2024 @ 12:00 - 13:15


  • Past event


9 January 2024
12:00 - 13:15
Event Category:
Academic Events

TBIs Propaganda Front-Page News?

Abstract. In the online age, autocracies’ censors must manage abundant information. At the same time, they face consumers with varying valuations for investigative content. This paper reveals a strategic pattern in the placement of news within Chinese online newspapers (2020-22). Studying over a million articles from 53 news outlets, I show that front-page articles are more likely to feature content favored by the government relative to articles published in other locations of news websites. Different text-based measures are employed to determine each article’s alignment with the government’s preferred content: Citing the government’s press agency, Xinhua, makes an article approximately eight percentage points more likely to feature on the front-page. Similarly, a one-standard-deviation decrease in the resemblance with foreign content on China increases the front-page placement probability by 1.1 percentage points. Both theoretical and empirical evidence suggest that foreign information sources — costly but not impossible to access for an investigative minority of readers — influence domestic censorship strategies.