Framing food safety controversy in China: Online media vs. networked audience

Wang, Wen
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This study identifies and examines the news frames about lean meat powder, a food safety incident in China, carried by two types of online media outlets--the leading government-owned news website ( and the most popular and enterprise-owned website (, as well as the audience frames present in a dominant Chinese social media or microblogging site (Sina Weibo). Five frames, attribution of responsibility, human impact, economic consequences, solutions and public confidence, are predefined. The visibility of each frame is detected, and four frames are established in, four frames in, and also four frames at Weibo. The similarities and differences in the visibility of these frames among the three platforms are then compared. The differences between the two websites and the correlations between media and audience are also discussed.

Based on the results, the two most visible frames in are solutions and human impact and the top two observable frames in are solutions and attribution of responsibility, while public confidence and attribution of responsibility are shown obviously in Weibo. The biggest gap between the two types of websites exists in of the presence of the attribution of responsibility and solutions frames. Besides, the results reveals that the correlation between enterprise-owned news website and the microblogging is stronger.

Key Words: Media Frames, Audience Frames, Food Safety, China

Audience Frames, China, Food Safety, Media Frames