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The story of Qi Shi Ma: Online discussion and community engagement in urban China
Unformatted Document Text:  - 9 - research questions: In this controversy case, RQ1. does the online forum demonstrate the potential to be a public sphere? RQ2. what characteristics of public sphere were manifested in the debates on the online forum? Methods This study analyzed all threads mentioning the “May 7 Car Accident” on and newspaper coverage of the accident on Du Shi Kuai Bao in the 18 months. Textual analysis was used to determine the themes of all news pieces, threads and posts. Following previous research (Fairclough, 1995; Kitch & Hume, 2006; Liu & Berkowitz, 2010), the goal was to discover the common theme and structure of the texts. The analysis focused on: what (the main idea, events and anecdotes) and who (from what sources). Each news piece, post, and post was read closely three times, with themes, perspectives and sources noted. At least one theme was identified for each news piece, and there were texts identified with more than one theme. For each online post, the original source was identified one of three ways: created by the forum users, redistributed content from other media, or media content supplemented with initiative opinions. Online posts were searched on the forum’s website. All news pieces were found in the online archive 1 of the newspaper’s website. The key words used for searching were: “文二西路” (West Wen Er Road, the place of the accident), “飙车” (drag racing), “胡斌”(Hu Bin, the driver’s name), “谭卓” (Tan Zhuo, the victim’s name) and “交通肇事”(Causing Traffic Casualties). In the online archive of the newspaper, 16 1 Online discussion and community engagement in urban China

Authors: Liu, Zhengjia.
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- 9 -
research questions:
In this controversy case,
RQ1. does the online forum demonstrate the potential to be a public sphere?
RQ2. what characteristics of public sphere were manifested in the debates on 
the online forum?
This study analyzed all threads mentioning the “May 7 Car Accident” on and 
newspaper coverage of the accident on Du Shi Kuai Bao in the 18 months. Textual 
analysis was used to determine the themes of all news pieces, threads and posts. 
Following previous research (Fairclough, 1995; Kitch & Hume, 2006; Liu & Berkowitz, 
2010), the goal was to discover the common theme and structure of the texts.  The 
analysis focused on: what (the main idea, events and anecdotes) and who (from what 
sources). Each news piece, post, and post was read closely three times, with themes, 
perspectives and sources noted. At least one theme was identified for each news piece, 
and there were texts identified with more than one theme. For each online post, the 
original source was identified one of three ways: created by the forum users, redistributed 
content from other media, or media content supplemented with initiative opinions.  
Online posts were searched on the forum’s website. All news pieces were found 
in the online archive
 of the newspaper’s website. The key words used for searching 
were: “文二西路” (West Wen Er Road, the place of the accident), “飙车” (drag 
racing), “胡斌”(Hu Bin, the driver’s name), “谭卓” (Tan Zhuo, the victim’s name) 
and “交通肇事”(Causing Traffic Casualties). In the online archive of the newspaper, 16 
Online discussion and community engagement in urban China

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