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Data and methodology

This research adopts a corpus-based approach to discourse studies. The data used for analysis is easily available on the internet, since nowadays the national media in China all have their corresponding websites for news dissemination. The problem is to find a suitable criterion for data collection so that the collected discourses can form a representative corpus for analysis. Since this study aims to investigate the cultural values associated with TCM in China, the corpus should be built with texts to target this goal. Thus, the highly specialized journals and newspapers for medicine will be excluded as they mainly publish articles on medical practice that target the medical experts. Besides, the sampling of the articles should ensure that the contents cover both TCM and the Chinese culture. This can normally be judged by examining the titles of the articles or by reading through the first couple of lines of an article.

Another point worth clarifying is the generic style of the reports, since under the genre of reporting articles, there is a variety of sub-genres such as hard news and soft news (Reinemann et al., 2012). In this respect, most of the reports fall into the soft kind as they mainly discuss and comment on the topics related to TCM rather than reporting the sudden news happenings. They come in the forms of comments, interviews, features and columns. However, since they in one way or another address the relationship between medicine and Chinese culture, they are considered as discourses constructing the TCM cultural values.

Media source

Number of articles

Number of charac ters

People’s Daily

13

15,013

Guangming Daily

12

29.000

China Daily

18

22.435

Global Times

11

10,037

Xinhua News Agency

10

13,914

Xinhua Net

11

19,788

Total

75

110,187

Based on the above guidelines, six media were selected: People’s Daily, Guangming Daily, China Daily, Global Times, Xinhua News Agency and Xinhua Net. The reason for this choice is that they all have nationwide circulations in China and have all published articles on TCM within the defined period (March 2019 to May 2020). The contents of these media usually cover a wide range of topics, from domestic and international affairs to economy and education. For the topics concerning TCM, they make a report once in a while. However, due to the outbreak of Covid-19, the years of 2019 and 2020 saw a sharp rise of reporting articles on TCM by these media. This provides a good opportunity for collecting data on TCM- related research, especially when it comes to the issues concerning the cultural values underlying TCM. The basic statistics of the data are presented in Table 5.1.

As shown in Table 5.1, altogether 75 articles were sourced from the six media. The length of the articles varies from as few as several hundred characters to as many as several thousand. The total number of characters is 110,187. There is a big difference among the six media in the number of reports and characters. However, this uneven distribution of the reports and characters should not be seen as a problem since this study is concerned with the representation of media discourses in general instead of the variation of TCM representations among different media.

 
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