Penn State

Penn State doctoral student influencing Chinese media with blog

Rose Luwei prepares for class in her office in James Building. She is a teaching assistant for two journalism classes at Penn State.
Rose Luwei prepares for class in her office in James Building. She is a teaching assistant for two journalism classes at Penn State. For the Centre Daily Times

A renowned Chinese journalist and commentator who is pursuing a doctorate at Penn State is maintaining her influence in the Chinese media with a blog that regularly attracts several million readers.

Rose, or Luqiu, Luwei resides in State College with her husband while she focuses on her media studies degree in the College of Communications.

Luwei, 47, is active on Sina’s microblog, often called Weibo, a popular social media website that is essentially a hybrid of Twitter and Facebook. Her microblog has more than 3 million followers, and she regularly offers her views on international affairs on it.

Sina is one of the major web portals in China, providing users with news, email service and personal blog sites. Luwei’s blog has been featured on Sina’s front page multiple times. The blog has recorded more than 40 million cumulative page views.

Before moving to State College, she spent 20 years working as a journalist and executive news editor at Phoenix Television, an influential news station based in Hong Kong that is watched via satellite throughout the Chinese-speaking world.

Luwei became well-known as “Battlefield Rose” for being the only Chinese female journalist to report from Afghanistan three times and to report from Iraq during the war in 2003.

Now she is putting her energy into learning about the Chinese online community. She said she is interested in researching “how people participate in social change on social media platforms.”

Luwei said she spends a lot of time on Chinese social media platforms.

“Social media is how you use it,” she said. “You decide the content you see. It is not a one-way street like traditional media anymore.”

In 2006, Luwei wrote an article, “Blogging News in China,” for Nieman Reports, a Harvard-based journalism research publication. In it she recalled how she was introduced to blogging in late 2005 and was surprised at the amount of interactivity her first blog article drew.

“On my blog, I am able to go beyond the limitation of time I have on my TV programs. On it I also have more freedom and can receive immediate feedback,” Luwei wrote.

The following year she was selected as a Nieman fellow by the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University.

Even since, Luwei has invested a lot of effort into her Sina blog.

In August, she decided to start writing about media literacy, aiming to familiarize her Chinese audience with the relationship between media and society in order for them to better understand and use the media.

In a recent post she wrote about the videotape in which Trump talked about groping women. She raised the question of whether lewd language should be included in news reporting.

“Chinese people pay attention to this presidential election on social media closely, because the traditional media isn’t covering much of it,” Luwei said, speaking of China’s main television outlets and newspapers.

“Social media is providing alternative information,” she said. “People are translating the news from the outside, sometimes truthfully and sometimes totally incorrect.”

Min Xian is a Penn State journalism student.