Media is an important aspect of life for most people, not the least for young Chinese. The amount of information available in the media, the variety of sources, the timeliness of information, as well as the reach of it have all proliferated in recent years. How are Chinese citizens engaging with the information they encounter in this new and increasingly fragmented media environment? Are they passively receiving it, or rather, actively approaching it? How do they decide what they can trust and not? Through presenting a group of respondents with two examples of politically related media texts - one official media news report and one oppositional blog entry, this study explores audience reception and practices in perceiving and interpreting media messages. The study builds on previous research, but argues that a new theoretical framework – a model of critical media literacy, is more suitable to describe the differences in how individuals access, understand and apply information they collect in the media. The study argues that patterns of trust and distrust are linked to each respondent’s consumption pattern and consequent level of critical media literacy. Those with a limited level of critical media literacy, the least experienced and disinterested readers, have a more indifferent and passive attitude toward information, and are more trusting of official media sources. Those with higher levels of critical media literacy, the most experienced and attentive readers, are more actively looking for and engaging with information in the media. They read news every day, and this frequent exposure gives them a keener eye for identifying the framing and motives in the messages they read. They access a wider variety of sources, also foreign ones, and have a more practical approach to the information they encounter. Further, findings in this study show that young Chinese are getting increasingly annoyed and disapproving of reporting trends in commercial and social media, but that this distrust leads them to consume media differently. While the inexperienced readers turn to official media, the more experienced readers turn to foreign media. Overall, recipient variables - each individual’s level of interest in reading news, as well as the frequency of exposure, is found to be the most defining factor for how efficiently respondents are able to navigate and evaluate political media messages online.