Bridges in the global news arena : a network study of bridge blogs about China
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The concept of bridge blogs and their function to foster awareness and public discourse across the world was examined by content analysis and network analysis of 426 blog posts and 1026 links in 11 bridge blogs about China from 2009 to 2010. This study proposes a theoretical framework to examine how bridge blogs’ network characteristics are related to their communicative practices. Three variables were examined with respect to the network characteristics of bridge blogs. First, this study identifies different types of bridge blogs according to the distinctive sites with which they choose to link. Second, bridge blogs’ role as bridges is directly tested by the extent to which they connect between online information sources that are otherwise separated from one another. Third, this study examines bridge blogs’ level of centrality, which is based on the number links they receive from others in the network. For communicative practices, this study measures the type of links bridge blogs use as sources in their posts and the communicative frames used to structure the blog posts. Bridge blogs exhibit internal diversity in terms of what distinctive sites they linked to, level of betweenness and centrality. The finding supports the theoretical framework proposed in the study that bridge blogs’ three network characteristics are associated with their practices of communication as reflected in their use of links and content structure. Bridge blogs that play a crucial interconnecting role and are central points of reference in the network are more likely to bring Chinese content (as oppose to Western media coverage) and citizen voice (as oppose to professional media content) to English speaking readers. In addition, the translation of Chinese content, which contributes more to the flow of information and views from China to the outside world, is valued more by bridge blogs (than others?) that are important interconnecting actors in the network and positioned as central points of attention in the network. Further, a textual analysis further enriches the understanding of how the communicative frames are practiced by the bridge blogs, as illustrated in their references to four high profile news stories about China.