The role of Chinese ethnic media in response to mainstream media’s portrayals of Chinese diaspora in New Zealand

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Yao, Yu (Olivia)
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Master of International Communication
Unitec Institute of Technology
Kolesova, Elena
Cass, Philip
Masters Dissertation
Ngā Upoko Tukutuku (Māori subject headings)
ethnic media
mainstream media (MSM)
Chinese media
New Zealand Herald
Brown, Len (1956-)
Chuang, Bevan (1981-)
Auckland City Mission Christmas lunch
Yao, Y.O. (2015). The role of Chinese ethnic media in response to mainstream media’s portrayals of Chinese diaspora in New Zealand. An upublished thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements of the degree of Master of International Communication Unitec Institute of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand.
Ethnic media is said to perform a number of roles, including: 1) protecting and (re) constructing ethnic culture and identity, 2) providing knowledge and information to newcomers and 3) giving an independent space which allows ethnic communities to represent themselves in their own words. In New Zealand, the number of Chinese migrants has steadily increased since the introduction of the 1987 Immigration Act, but the portrayal of the Chinese diaspora in its dominant media has often been invisible and negative. This is difficult for Chinese people to tolerate because they are afraid to ‘lose face’, which is an important part of traditional Chinese social ethics and refers to the fear of public shame. Along with other Chinese cultural characteristics of collectivism, members of the Chinese diaspora may consider that bad descriptions would bind them together and affect other people’s impression about their community. Under the circumstance, Chinese ethnic media may play an important role in assuaging people’s feelings and counteracting the negative influences within the Chinese community. This study employed two qualitative research methods, content analysis and semi-structured interviews, to probe the way in which one Chinese ethnic online media,, responded to the representation of the Chinese people in the New Zealand Herald[the Herald].The research is based on two case studies. The first case involves Auckland Mayor Len Brown’s affair with Bevan Chuang in 2013. The second case is based on the reporting on an incident during which a group identified by the Herald as Chinese tourists ate at a charity Christmas lunch in 2012. A comparison of reports about these events in both media outlets, indicates a tendency of the Herald to focus on more dramatic descriptions of celebrities and to be more connected with the dominant, Pākehā group. The findings showed emphasises vicarious experience, which is the involvement of the audience to engage in a news story by highlighting the emotional elements, in its news reports and the way it used online sources. Two strategies, including the selection of information for pre-determined goals and the audience-oriented description, can be identified in these comparisons. These strategies explain the important role played in response to the portrayals of Chinese people in the Herald, including guiding the audience to understand both events from another angle and providing an independent, alternative media space in which the Chinese diaspora in New Zealand could represent themselves in their own words.
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