In September 1992, the Fifth Plenary Session of the 14th Central Committee recommended that the main direction in future adjustments of the industrial structure should be to ‘actively promote the tertiary industry’. In 1993, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the State Council officially included the media industry in the tertiary industry in the Decisions on Accelerating Development in the Tertiary Industry, while maintaining this industry’s attributes as a propaganda and administrative institution.
From the viewpoint of local journalists, news from the Fujian press industry was originally highly homogenised and lacked competitiveness. After the three-phase censorship of new media was institutionalised, risks from converging news production declined, but the timely release of information was weakened and the opportunity for journalistic autonomy has decreased as well. When covering politically sensitive social events, the freedom of speech of the new media was equally limited relative to others within the press industry and was occasionally even more restricted than that of newspapers.
Yóulǐkǎ (Eureka), Jiālìfúníyàzhōu -- Shéi céng xiǎng zhìzuò gènghǎo de Hànyǔ xuéxí ruǎnjiàn huì gǎibiàn Yàzhōu jìsuànjī shìjiè? Wénlín Yánjiūsuǒ fābù le zuìxīn bǎn de jiàoyù ruǎnjiàn, bìng tuīchū yī zhěngtào yòngyú chǔlǐ Zhōngwén, Rìwén hé Hánwén (CJK) zìfú de quánxīn móshì. Zhè yī qīdài yǐjiǔ de bǎnběn tuīchū zhī shí zhèngzhí Hànyǔ xuéxí kè ruǎnjiàn duǎnquē, duì jìsuànjī hé zhìnéng shǒujī kāifāzhě Yàzhōu shìchǎng de wèilái yùcè sìqǐ de shíqī. Shǒuxí zhànlüèjiā Yīlìshābái Lánzhān (Elisabeth Nuboer-Ranjan) yīzhēnjiànxiě de zhǐchū, “Wénlín duì shǒuzhǐ cāozuò shèbèi jìshù hé OCR jìshù de yǐngxiǎng jiāng huì hàndòng zhège hángyè.” Zhè shì zhōngduān yònghù de hǎo xiāoxi, dàn dāng kāifāshāng jìnxíng xiāngyìng tiáozhěng shí kěnéng huì jīfā zhèndàng.
4 Therefore, some observers suspected that “Anti CNN” messages were part of a larger propaganda effort to discredit reports that contradicted the official line of the state. See New York Times, 25 March 2008; Sueddeutsche Zeitung, 28 March 2008. Foreign Ministry spokesperson Qin Gang denied any direct links between the website and the Chinese government. http://www.chinese-embassy.org.uk/eng/zt/fyrth/t419160.htm, accessed 20 July 2008.
Prompts from new media centre editors that ‘users responded intensely’ are often believed as too trivial to be ‘worth writing about’, hence are ultimately ignored by journalists. Editors blame the journalists’ reaction on lack of awareness, that is, journalists lack knowledge of new media, underestimate the intensity of competition between the press industry and commercial new media and overlook user demands. In fact, journalists expressed their concern regarding increasingly intense market competition in both the survey and in-depth interviews. They sensed that when various types of newspapers obtain news clues from new media and as reportage becomes increasingly homogenised, newspapers are confronted with increasingly intense competition.
Understanding why most interviewed journalists also asserted that the assumptions that ‘multi-skilled journalists’ who can write, photograph and edit is unrealistic (if not entirely unreasonable), and claimed that newspaper journalists should be differentiated from specialised new media journalists who will transform into expert-type journalists in the future by delivering objective, rational and in-depth reportage on a certain subdivided domain. In this conception, new media practitioners remain quite distinct from their peers from the traditional media. However, such a difference has undergone slight changes, that is, traditional media practitioners have begun to admit and accept the possibility that their new media counterparts may be professionalised in the domain of news production. Journalists are consulting about their roles in reference to new media, although they are more inclined towards constriction rather than extension when adjusting their professional boundaries.
An in-depth interview was thereafter conducted to provide an explanation for journalists’ attitude towards new media as well as to answer the research questions 2 and 3. A total of 12 respondents who left their contact information were recruited as interviewees. Given that media convergence is a process of integration among all newspaper offices within one press group, the recruitment of the interviewees was conducted with the press group unit rather than the single newspaper office. Apart from journalists, the leadership and editors of new media centres who had worked in the newspaper newsroom were also recruited as interviewees to obtain an improved understanding of the influences of media convergence on the press industry. The different degrees of experience in news gathering and editing of these directors and editors could be beneficial, particularly their insider’s viewpoint, which will compliment and support that of the journalists. From February to March 2016, the authors recruited eight directors or editors of new media centres for in-depth interviews through snowball sampling.
Zhou, BH (2014) Chinese journalists’ social media usage and its influential factors: A survey on young journalists in Shanghai (Zhongguo xinwen congyezhe de shejiao meiti yunyong jiqi yingxiang yinsu: Yi xiang zhendui shanghai qingnian xinwen congyezhe de diaocha yanjiu). Journal of Journalism and Communication (Xinwen yu chuanbo yanjiu) 120(12): 34–53.
Though holding relatively positive attitude towards new media as revealed in the survey, local journalists in Fujian’s press groups did not embrace the convergence with new media enthusiastically. The main change brought about with the convergence, after the establishment of the new media centre and the reconstruction of the news production workflow within Fujian’s press groups, is the journalists being currently expected to feed news to the centre so that the gap of contents for the new media outlets will be filled. During the interviews, directors, editors and journalists unanimously agreed that media convergence enhanced the requirements for timeliness and accuracy of news production as well as increased the intensity of journalists’ workload, but failed to radically alter the methods of selecting and writing news, thereby bearing no significant influence on journalists. A few journalists indicated their willingness to commit immediately to the convergence of news production; however, other journalists refused to cooperate with the new media centre.
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).
Simply speaking, media convergence is the process of integrating new media into the system of traditional media. Thus, journalists’ attitude towards the new media constitutes the foundation for better understanding of journalists’ attitude towards the convergence between traditional media and new media. Moreover, media convergence carries a prognosis that news production will move further to the direction towards timeliness, interactivity and use-centredness. Given that the newsroom routine adjusts rapidly, particularly as the audience increasingly engages in news production and professional boundaries blur further, the following questions need to be answered: Will the viewpoint of journalists towards new media become considerably negative? How will this attitude affect their perception of the convergence process between new media and traditional media?
Although the effects of media convergence from a journalist perspective are waiting to be further examined, a comprehensive view of the influence of new media on news production has been achieved by Chinese scholars. Existing studies indicate that journalists’ attitude towards new media is complicated. On one hand, the use of the Internet and we-media, such as QQ, Weibo and Wechat, has been considered to boost the work efficiency of journalists, enhance the interaction between journalists and readers and increase the transparency of news production (Wu and Zhang, 2015). On the other hand, an increasing number of journalists are also inclined to attribute the loss of ‘journalistic ideal’ to multifarious pressures provoked by new media (Ding and Wei, 2014). Given the development of mobile Internet and prevalence of we-media since the beginning of the 21st century, information and opinions from netizens have gradually become a vital source of news for traditional media and the public (Wu and Zhang, 2015; Zhou, 2014), and the objectivity of news and journalists’ authoritativeness have been impaired (Bai, 2013).
After 2008, ‘full-media’ became a keyword with which scholars discussed China’s press industry. Studies that focus on the effects of full-media are categorised into two approaches: media economics and media performance approaches. The media economics approach generalises the experience and lessons of convergence practices and evaluates the influence of media convergence on newspaper development mostly from a business operation perspective by adopting case studies combined with the personal observation of researchers (cf. Tang and Cao, 2015; Yang, 2013). By contrast, the media performance approach analyses the method of content delivery on the new media platforms of newspapers as well as predicts (through content analysis) the influence of convergence on the progress of society’s democratisation from the media ethics perspective (cf. Huang, 2013; Cai, 2011).
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.
Over the past two decades, China’s media convergence has undergone three stages (Li, 2017; Yu, 2015). Stage I lasted from the mid-1990s to the late 1990s, during which the content of traditional media was transplanted onto the new media platform. Stage II began in the early years of the 21st century, during which traditional media co-produced content with new media. Stage III started in 2006 and continues to the present, during which traditional media collaborated with new media in many aspects. All the stages of media convergence concur with the conglomeration and capitalisation of Chinese media industries. China’s media reform has constituted the basic context of domestic media convergence. For the past 40 years, the main drive of China’s media reform is the state. Each critical time point of media reform cannot proceed without the propulsion of the national policy from top to bottom.
Debates on the social influence of information technology have constantly been conducted around the ‘technology and democracy’ theme. The introduction of information technology, particularly the Internet, was once lauded with immense optimism and was thought to provide journalists with substantial latitude of free speech. Unfortunately, the media convergence of the Fujian press industry clearly demonstrates that the tensions between politics and technology fail to generate significant journalistic freedom in the Chinese local press industry. In fact, the logic of technology has been incorporated into the political logic such that new media outlets have assimilated the structure and routines of traditional media. This tendency is not unique to the dominant path of media convergence but prevails in every local press industry that is in pursuit of converging news production. Accordingly, the effects of such development on the ecology of China’s journalism must be further explored.
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.
La Jolla, Jiāzhōu — Wénlín Yánjiūsuǒ yǒuxiàn gōngsī (SPC) zhèngshì fābù Wénlín Hànyǔ Xuéxí Ruǎnjiàn 4.3 háohuá bǎn (Wénlín Wánzhěngbǎn). Xīn fābù de 4.3 bạ̌nběn wánquán zhīchí wánzhěngbǎn Hànyǔ Dà Cídiǎn suọ̌yǐn, suọ̌yǐn jīngguò gēngzhèng, kuòchōng bìng àn zìmǔ shùnxù páiliè, zuòwéi fùjiā chéngxù kě yǔ Wénlín ABC cídiǎn wánměi rónghé, jǐn shòu 49 Měiyuán. Wénlín ABC HDC suọ̌yǐn ruǎnjiàn bǎn kě ràng yònghù qīngsōng chákàn HDC ruǎnjiàn zhōng dàiyǒu de 350, 000 ge duōyīnjié tiáomù. Wénlín ABC HDC kuòzhǎn chéngxù shì yī zhǒng xiānjìn de yánjiū gōngjù, gòng shōunàle chāoguò 568, 000 ge tiáomù. Tōngguò cānkǎo HDC tiáomù, nǐ kẹ̌yǐ gènghǎo de lị̌jiě hěn duō ABC dāncí (bụ̀lùn shì-fǒu chūxiàn zài HDC). Tóngyàng de, HDC hángàile xǔduō wèi shōulù zài ABC cídiǎn de tiáomù, dàn yǔ ABC cíkù jiéhé qǐlai huì gènghǎo lị̌jiě. ABC+HDC de cházhǎo gōngnéng jīngcháng huì dǎoxiàng xiāngguān xìnxī, wúlùn shì Wénlín zhíjiē lièchū de liànjiē huòshì tōngguò Wénlín xīn tuīchū de wǎngluò sōusuǒ gōngnéng. HDC suọ̌yǐn yǔ ABC Hànyǔ cídiǎn xìliè zhǔbiān Méi Wéihéng (Victor H. Mair) jiàoshòu, (láizì Bīnxīfǎníyà dàxué), xiě dào︰ "Kàndào Wénlín fābùle yǐ dānxiàng páixù zìmǔ suọ̌yǐn wánzhěngbǎn «Hànyǔ Dà Cídiǎn» de diànzǐ bǎn, wǒ fēicháng gāoxìng. Zhè duì chīmí Hànyǔ yánjiū de měi yī gèrén lái shuō quèshí shì yī ge fúyīn".
As part of a political project to seize ‘the commanding heights’ of information dissemination, namely to strengthen the traditional press’s influence in shaping public opinion, practices of media convergence within Fujian’s press groups are substantively compliant with the ‘top-down design’ that is aimed to effectively circumvent political risks and maximise fiscal investment and market return. To bypass the political minefield and manage other risks that the new media centre may encounter whilst promoting convergence, Fujian’s press groups built a three-phase censorship system of ‘editor–new media centre director–press leadership’, among many other measures. Rigorous controls over convergence risks have enabled the Fujian press industry to gain the anticipated policy bonus. For example, the new media centre, for which the Xiamen Daily Group invested over one million Yuan, significantly affected municipal leaders, thereby earning over 20 million Yuan of financial subsidies for the centre in 2015.
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