We investigated how two English-language newspapers – Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post (SCMP) and the mainland China Daily (CD) – portrayed key social actors (police, students, protesters, and governments) during the Occupy Central/Yellow Umbrella movement. We examined emotional valence, arousal, and dominance characterizations in 1,180 news articles via a multilevel, multivariate outcome regression and critical discourse analysis. The findings reveal that emotional sentiments associated with students and protesters in SCMP were generally more positive than in CD but that this was reversed for the police and the government. Whereas SCMP deployed personal stories to construct a humanized image of protesters and students, CD relied on expert authority, rhetorical questions, and imagined scenarios to convey empathy towards Hong Kong residents, creating a villainized image of protesters. Our mixed-methods approach reveals how SCMP and CD portrayed students differently via the discursive frames of “optimistic dreamers” and “powerless scapegoats,” respectively.
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- Critical discourse analysis
- Hong Kong
- Multilevel analysis
- News media
- Occupy central
- Social actors