A Complete Overview of the Chinese News Media Landscape Today and Its Implication for PR

News media in China

Developing an effective PR strategy in China is hard without a proper understanding of China's news media landscape. We decided to dedicate this article to a complete overview of the Chinese news media landscape as we found there is surprisingly little discussion around such an important part of PR success in China. The insights in this article are based on our years of experiences working with the Chinese news media as well as our observations from day-to-day PR practices.

China’s media industry is massive: centered around the main media hubs of Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou, over 69 media groups owning 2,500 news media channels and publications cover the business, politics, lifestyle, and current events of a country of 1.4 billion people.

As China shifts into a mobile-first economy, the news media landscape is experiencing accelerating change in recent years. In this article, we’ll go into the current state of China’s news media landscape as well as highlight some key factors that influenced the new media landscape of China today.

The evolution of Chinese news media

China’s news media today is best described as “multi-format” and“multi-channel”. To understand how it evolved to such a diverse ecosystem, we need to look at some of the fundamental developments of its past.

Chinese news media development timeline

  • 1979: Media consisted of state-owned media that focused heavily on national political affairs. The news was under strict government censorship during this period.

  • 1979-2000: News industry opens up, with every tier 1 and tier 2 city now having a major media group. More TV & print media emerged during this phase.

  • 2000-2010: Landscape experiences a major shift towards online media. The explosive growth of online users causes most news groups to expand their online presence, and online media starts to take a bigger share of the news landscape.

  • 2010-2013: Social media apps start to change how people consume news and content online, threatening traditional media’s hold on information.

  • 2013- 2017: Rapid development of mobile media and integrations of news app & social media (WeChat/Weibo).

  • 2017-2019: Online and social media becomes the main channel users consu