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Survey: 60 pct of respondents have been misled by sensational news

By Hong Xinyi, Xiang Nan (China Youth Daily)

15:34, May 30, 2012

Edited and translated by People's Daily Online

A Chinese news article titled “Nearly half of all abortions are performed on underage girls” recently became widely circulated on Chinese websites with new sensational headlines such as “Nearly half of all abortions in China are performed on underage girls, survey says” and “Nearly half of all abortions in Chinese mainland are performed on underage girls.”

The original article was based on the results of a survey that adolescent mental health expert Chen Yijun and her team have conducted on a major women’s and children’s hospital in Beijing since 1997.

However, its sensational headline seems to tell readers that nearly half of all abortions in China are performed on underage girls.

A survey of nearly 11,400 people in China’s 31 provinces, autonomous regions, and municipalities conducted by China Youth Daily’s Social Investigation Center through qtick.com and minyi.net.cn last week showed that 56 percent of respondents who have read the article titled “Nearly half of all abortions are performed on underage girls” thought it was a “nationwide” survey, and over 78 percent agree that today’s news media are rife with sensationalism.

When reading news, over 20 percent of respondents only read headlines, and over 66 percent scan full stories after reading headlines. Only over 11 percent read full stories thoroughly.

What problems can the flood of sensational news cause?

Chen Chuping, a junior at a college in Jinan, Shandong province, reads news online every day. He is often disappointed, or even angered, by news websites, especially mobile news sites, that put insignificant yet sensational stories such as “Sophomore girl meets 15 online friends and have four abortions in a year” and “Married male middle school teacher elopes with girl student” on the first page.

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