The field of local news is often associated with news deserts, commonly defined as geo‐based communities without news‐ papers or other legacy media as providers of locally oriented news and civic information. This phenomenon is expanding in global society due to the diminishing presence of newspapers at moments of accelerated digitization. This study examines the multiplex nature of news deserts in rural and suburban areas in China. Data were collected through a multi‐methods approach combining two focus groups and 44 semi‐structured in‐depth interviews. Patterns of engagement among inter‐ viewees reveal that smartphone‐based social media applications and digital platforms function as viable sources of news, and incidental exposure to news has become the norm of digital news use. Government‐orchestrated convergent media services and WeChat channels are preferred choices by most research participants for local news. We argue that a media ecology perspective may be a productive approach to understanding community news and local newspapers

Document Type


Publication Date


Notes/Citation Information

This article is part of the issue “News Deserts: Places and Spaces Without News” edited by Agnes Gulyas (Canterbury Christ Church University), Joy Jenkins (University of Missouri), and Annika Bergström (University of Gothenburg).

© 2023 by the author(s); licensee Cogitatio Press (Lisbon, Portugal). This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY).

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)