Who Believes The People's Daily? Bias and Credibility in Authoritarian Media.

Rory Truex, Assistant Professor of Politics and Public Affairs, Princeton University
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How do citizens living in authoritarian contexts perceive and process state-controlled news? Building on existing research on media bias in the U.S. context, this paper uses a unique survey experiment of Chinese netizens that exposes respondents to different news stories, randomly assigning the putative source as well as the content itself.
The results suggest that citizens are aware of pro-regime biases in state-controlled newspapers, but that they trust these outlets more anyway. This general “preference for propaganda” may be driven by a genuine optimism about China and the CCP regime, and a desire to consume like-minded news.