For the Fujian press industry, the local journalists’ attitude towards the new media is moderately positive, which is inconsistent with their negative attitude towards the convergence of newspapers and new media. In other words, the journalists’ pessimistic views on media convergence are not because of their dislike of new technology but a manifestation of the institutional, organisational and individual complexities within the local press industry. The demographic factors that affect the journalists’ attitude towards new media, including age, years at work and type of newspaper, have unique connotations under the Chinese media system.
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.
After filling the gap in policy, advertising has significantly promoted its proportion in media revenue. As of October 1992, domestic newspapers that achieved financial independence had accounted for one-third of the nationwide total (Zhao, 1998: 50). Since then on, advocating and promoting economic development and strengthening of media industry have become a dominant agenda of China’s media reform.
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The case study of Fujian indicates that what lies beneath the persistent tension between newspaper offices and new media departments is substantively a conflict of economic interest that results from the competitive relationship amongst various media outlets within the local press group since the period of media conglomeration. Adjusting the administrative structure cannot reduce this tension as long as the economic logic is not thoroughly challenged.
The communication of technology is an important social activity, which has played a significant role in the area of language service industry. In order to help students get familiar with technical writing, the college of foreign languages and literatures of Fudan University has invited four technical writers from top 10 multinational companies to teach students how to write technical documents properly by citing examples and specific projects from the industry. Such professional training has proved to be a success since all students love the course and have more interest in translation industry. The rapid growth of service localization has resulted in inclusion of technical writing as a key component in a well-established professional’s translation competence.Therefore,it is necessary to incorporate technical writing courses into China’s translator-training system.
Accordingly, the following questions must be answered in the context where the tension between newspapers and new media departments seems persistent: What will be the destiny of metropolis newspapers if they deviate from converging news production? Will other types of newspapers, due to their loss of market competitive edge to new media outlets, shift to the role of ‘Party Mouthpiece’ that has previously been performed by the party organs? Evidently, these questions can be explored in future research.
The official statement of the objective of Chinese media convergence lies in coping with the impacts generated by the information technology revolution. Among those impacts, the decline of tax revenue from media industries is one catalyst for Chinese press industry playing the role of precursor of media convergence. In early 2008, the press industry experienced a phase of decline. Until 2015, China’s television industry firstly took on a gliding tendency in the totality of media placement of advertising, with the advertising revenue of the radio industry deemed stable (Cui, 2016: 6–8). The decline of circulation and advertising revenues is often attributed to the effects of new media such as the change in habits of media exposure. Compared with the radio and television industries, the press industry faces more severe challenges from new media. Thus, the press industry has substantially intense impetus to converge with new media.
Another explanation for journalists’ disinclination to provide news to the new media centre is the emerging conflict between the traditional and new media departments of the Fujian press industry. The main purpose of media convergence is to reconstruct the news production workflow and manifest the notion of ‘collection once, generation into varieties and dissemination in diversities’. Under the dominant path, the original departments of new media outlets are incorporated into the department of new media centre. From the perspective of newspaper office leadership, the timeliness of newspapers falls short of new media; thus, the latter is likely to further decrease the market of the former by intensifying the decline in newspaper readers. The leadership in Fujian’s press groups has been exploring various methods of press release, such as supplying basic facts to new media whilst providing details, background information and other in-depth content to newspapers, giving new media the priority to non-exclusive material but offering newspapers the priority to exclusive information. Discords occasionally occurred between the managements of newspaper offices and new media centre nonetheless.
In recent years, the Fujian press industry has stagnated due to frequent turnover of personnel. Given that the number of practicing journalists in this province is difficult to determine, the authors adopted the snowball sampling method by firstly contacting the persons-in-charge of the newsroom and requesting them thereafter to recruit journalists to answer the survey. Considering the particularity of the respondents’ profession, that is, having flexible working hours, two assistants were assigned to distribute the printed questionnaires before and after the plenary press conference or the newsroom convention from July to August 2015.
By the end of 2012, the circulation and advertising revenues of the Fujian press industry declined substantially, indicating its entry into a ‘cold winter’. Secretary-General Xi Jinping delivered the ‘8•19’ speech in 2014. Subsequently, Fujian’s press groups began to receive local fiscal support, actually ‘reaching a consensus’ and advancing media convergence. In 2014 alone, the Xiamen Daily Group gained substantial support from the municipal government, thereby pioneering the establishment of a ‘central control platform of converged media’ and a new media centre, which has been followed by several other press groups in Fujian.
To encourage journalist participation, two newspaper offices in Fujian added ‘volume of news feeding to the centre’ in the their evaluation criteria for journalists’ work performance, and many other newspaper offices of the Fujian press industry stimulated the initiatives of journalists for collaboration with ‘remuneration’ (Gaofei) or ‘points’ (Gaofen). Motivated by these measures, a few journalists, particularly the young and junior ones, began to adapt to the working tempo of rapid publication and multiple ‘versions’ of a single story. Others, particularly old and senior journalists, had matter-of-fact reactions to such measures. From the perspective of the new media centre director and editors, the material rewards that failed to meet the expectations of journalists constitute the primary reason for the latter’s reluctance to participate. However, interviews with journalists revealed that their willingness to contribute news reports depends on the anticipated gains and the price that they may have to pay for such participation.
Specifically, information released in new media outlets emphasise timeliness. The irreconcilable conflict between such requirement and the principle of accuracy in news reportage concerns many journalists. In China, the common rule of thumb in terms of news production is that ‘the writer is responsible for the consequences of this article’. Journalists are obliged to take full responsibility for all issues engendered by the news under their name. The risk of ‘more mistakes with more releases’ is a shadow that follows news production as a by-product of the censorship system. Thus, the journalists in Fujian’s press groups disregard the new system of censorship as a ‘buffer’ that could protect them from various risks, particularly political ones. When journalists believe that the risk they may undertake outweighs the financial return they will attain, they choose not to cooperate.
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