Localization of the theory and practice value of Participatory Communication in the Digital Media Environment: a case study of 'Rural News Officer System” in Qingyuan of China.


Participatory Communication is an important theoretical paradigm in the evolution of development communication, which advocates the establishment of public subjectivity through media access, empowerment and participation to promote community development. When the modernization paradigm of the Development Communication is widely questioned, Participatory Communication theory has been supported by many researchers and has also been popularized and applied in practice. With the in-depth influence of Internet technology on the communication structure, all kinds of emerging digital media solve the passive problem of media access from the technical level and are forming a multi-level, multi-directional Internet participation in the communication process. Nowadays, the emergence of short video technology, represented by “Kuaishou” and “TikTok”, has brought lots of opportunities of media participation for the vast rural residents in China. The deconstruction of rural communication is undergoing unprecedented changes, which brings great challenges to rural governance of China. Qingyuan Municipal Government launched the 'Rural News Officer System” in 2018, which selected some rural political and cultural elites as spokespersons of local interests. These spokesmen become the interest mediators between the government and the rural public. Through on-the-spot investigation and a large number of interviews, we found that the system broadens the economic income channels of the rural public and eases the tension between the rural public and the government. The conclusion of this study is the Chinese government attaches great importance to the use of internet technology to integrate public participation into the governance system; the Rural News Officer, as a catalyst, is a member of the rural public in culture, maintains the government in politics and helps the farmers to become rich in economy; the internet participation of the rural public in China is mostly individual behavior at present, which is still in a spontaneous state with insufficient publicity; participatory communication emphasizes the right to development rather than power sharing in rural areas of China.