The convergence of the Chinese press industry is thus not merely driven by the effects of market and technological logic from the beginning, unlike in Europe and the US. Actually, administrative fiat plays a pivotal role in each stage of media convergence. In the mid- and late-1990s, the ‘touch the Internet’ (Chuwang) action of traditional news media, namely to establish online newspapers, has expanded from the top to the bottom ‘with the state as the sponsor’ and ‘national media as the leader’ (Yu, 2015). Similarly, the establishment of the collaborative relationship between newspapers and new media on news production at the beginning of the 21st century could not be realised without the intervention of administrative power, including approval for the construction of major news websites to produce original contents. The wave of media convergence that began in 2006 is also inseparable from the official ‘top-down design’. In the beginning, the General Administration of Press and Publication was concurrently the project sponsor and supervisor. Thereafter, the media convergence of the central and local press industry has been highly dependent on financial funding from the government.
To examine the effects of media convergence on news production, both survey and in-depth interview are adopted with the press industry of Fujian Province as the case of analysis. At present, four large-scale press groups exist in Fujian Province: Xiamen Daily Group, which owns three comprehensive daily newspapers (Xiamen Daily, Xiamen Evening News and Haixi Morning Post); Fujian Daily News Press, which owns three comprehensive daily newspapers (Fujian Daily, Strait News and Strait Herald); Fuzhou Daily Media Press, which owns two comprehensive daily newspapers (Fuzhou Daily and Fuzhou Evening News) and Quanzhou Evening News Press, which owns two comprehensive daily newspapers (Quanzhou Evening News and Southeast Morning Post). Overall, the size and influence of the Fujian press industry are ranked in the middle nationwide.
In the early stages after the foundation of China, domestic journalists assumed the primary role of ‘propagators’. From the 1980s to the 1990s, China’s journalists have started to undertake other roles, such as ‘information providers’, ‘information interpreters’, ‘advocators’ and ‘profit makers’. Evidently, their professional roles have become increasingly diversified. In recent years, domestic journalists have gradually ‘returned to the essence of journalism’ in their selection of professional roles (Chen and Jiang, 2008). Most professional journalists have identified with the objective and neutral role of an ‘information provider’ (Zhang and Wu, 2014).
The definition of full-media convergence is similar to that of media convergence that was developed in light of current practices in Europe and the US. However, as Menke et al. (2016) argued in their comparative study of European convergence journalism, the processes of convergence depend on national and cultural factors, thereby resulting in different convergence practices within specific newsrooms. To gain an improved understanding of the current convergence in China, the factors that make China’s case substantially different from Europe and the US must be considered.