22 Interviews no. 38, 27, 4. See also Z. Zhao and F. Cai, “Maohe er shenli: cong chuanbo neirong de jiaodu kan xinwen yu xuanchuan de chayi” (“Apparently harmonious but actually different: difference between news and propaganda from the perspective of communication content”), Eighth National Conference on Communication Studies, Tsinghua University, Beijing, 2004.
A professional company was commissioned to transcribe the anonymously processed materials. The tape scripts were then analysed in three phases. Firstly, a preliminary coding was accomplished by performing a line-by-line coding of the transcription as well as by defining the segments relevant to the issues under investigation. Secondly, new codes were formed by synthesising the preliminary codes, with focus laid on frequently occurring segments. Lastly, the new codes, between which the association was explored, were rearranged where it was used as basis for the construction of a consistent theoretical exposition.
For Western journalism researchers, media convergence generally refers to the ‘cooperation and collaboration between formerly distinct media newsrooms and other parts of the modern media company’ (Deuze, 2004: 140). Chinese scholars were considerably inclined to use the phrase ‘full-media’ (Quan Meiti) to describe the convergence process. Full-media, which is a term coined by Chinese media practitioners, implies a figure of oriental holism under the perspective of Chinese traditional philosophy (Ji et al., 2013). Mai (2012: 41) employed observation and in-depth interviews and defined full-media convergence as ‘a mode of structural integration of news production, dissemination and business operation on the platforms of new communication technology’.
To answer the research question 1, the authors analysed the attitude of local journalists of Fujian towards new media with the method of survey. Available studies (cf. Wu and Zhang, 2015; Zhou, 2014) were used as bases to categorise the measurement of journalists’ attitude into two dimensions: The perception on the changes that new media have brought to news production and the overall appraisal of these changes. Measurement of the perception involves the following six items: (1) New media expanded the sources of news, (2) New media facilitated contact with work-related groups, (3) New media deepened knowledge on audience, (4) New media enhanced the requirements for journalists’ expertise, (5) New media intensified competitions with journalistic peers and (6) New media marginalised news gathering and editing inside the press group. A five-level scale was adopted (ranging from 1 to 5; 1 represents ‘strongly disagree’ and 5 represents ‘strongly agree’). The overall appraisal of those changes was measured by one item: What do you think of the overall influence of new media on news production? A five-point scoring was likewise adopted (1 representing ‘extremely negative’ and 5 representing ‘extremely positive’). Thereafter, demographic factors were measured, which included age, gender, educational degree, years at work and type of newspaper. At the end of the questionnaire, the respondents were asked if they are willing to accept an interview about their opinions on media convergence and leave their contact information.
The recruitment of interviewees was conducted for two rounds. Given the demonstrative effect of the media convergence of the Xiamen Daily Group within the province and even the entire industry, the authors contacted seven media practitioners from this organisation to undergo the first round of interview. Consequently, one director, one editor and five newspaper journalists were involved as interviewees in this round. After developing a preliminary knowledge of the opinions of the Xiamen Daily Group journalists towards media convergence, the authors conducted a second round of interview. Three directors, three editors and seven journalists were recruited as interviewees from several other press groups, including Fujian Daily Group, Fuzhou Daily News Press and Quanzhou Evening News Press, thereby promoting the diversity of the interviewees in the aspect of age, years at work and newspaper type. Except for one journalist from the Fujian Daily Group who was interviewed via telephone, all the 19 others underwent face-to-face interviews (Table 1).
Jenkins (2004) stressed that media convergence should be viewed as a ‘culture’ because it changed the relationship among technology, industry, market, product type and audience. By scrutinising the relationship between media institution and practitioners, the culture-oriented approach can facilitate the re-examination of the interaction mechanism between the institutional arrangement of media convergence and the logic of actors, as well as reconsideration of the social structure on a microscopic scale, thereby narrowing the gap between the media economics and media performance approaches.
Say (there is) a fire disaster, which is often reported as an explosion. We often rush to fire disasters, chatting and interviewing with firemen on the site, (to know) there are lots of detonations in fire disasters. Even if not all detonations correspond to explosion, people who have not experienced the scene would likely label the sound ‘Bang’ as explosion before recording in Weibo the ‘explosion’ of fire somewhere… (Journalists) have discrimination, which is something lacked by ordinaries. (Interviewee No. 2)
In the early 1990s, Chinese press industry strategically expanded policy limits by using the tension between the state and capitals (Akhavan-Majid, 2004). For example, the operation management strategy through structural ‘zoning’ (Pan, 2000) and the content strategy pursuing newsworthiness to the maximum within the permissible policy scope (Zhao, 1996). Thus, newspapers that transform from ‘Party Mouthpiece’ to ‘Party Publicity Inc.’ (Lee et al., 2006) gained substantial rewards from the market whilst performing their propaganda function.
Both viewpoints have consistent cores, that is, the adherence to the principle that ‘content shall dominate’, which underscores the importance of content resources in maintaining and promoting the influential power of newspapers and in assisting newspapers to step out of the ‘cold winter’. This situation further evokes the hesitation of and the resistance from the journalists of the Fujian press industry as they maintain their professional dignity with effort.
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.
Wénlín de héxīn shǐmìng, rú gōngsī xīn zhāngchéng zhōng suǒ guīdìng, shì wèile bāngzhù rénmen xuéxí yǔyán, zhǔyào shì Hànyǔ hé Yīngyǔ; cùjìn bùtóng wénhuà jiān de jiàoyù, lǐjiě, xīnshǎng, hépíng, hézuò, tuánjié yǐjí duōyàngxìng; fāzhǎn yǔyán hé jiàoyù kēxué, jìshù hé jìqiǎo. Duìyú Wénlín Hànyǔ Xuéxí Ruǎnjiàn hé ABC xìliè cídiǎn dāngqián jí wèilái de yònghùmen, chúle tōngguò wéihù, kuòzhǎn, gǎishàn, xǔkě hé chūbǎn zhèxiē zuòpǐn hé qítā zuòpǐn lái zhīchí tāmen, Wénlín hái zhìlìyú wéihù zhèxiē zuòpǐn de wánzhěng, shēngyù hé yuánzé, bǐngchéng le tóngshí shǐyòng pīnyīn (pīnyīn wénzì) hé Hànzì (gèzhǒng xíngshì de Hànyǔ wénzì) de yuánzé miànxiàng Hànyǔ xuéxí, zhēng chuàng zhǔnquèxìng, xuéshùxìng, kěkàoxìng, gōngpíngxìng, xiàoyòng hé zhìliàng de zuìgāo biāozhǔn. Cǐwài, zuòwéi yī ge SPC zǔzhī, Yánjiūsuǒ huì chuánshòu wǒmen de zhuānjiā tuánduì shǐyòng de jìnéng, ràng hòurén yánxù wǒmen de shìyè.
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.
These findings provide an empirical foundation to organise the interview outline and the type of interviewees that should be recruited in the following interviews. More importantly, the results mentioned above indicate that journalists in Fujian do embrace new technologies. In this case, the journalists are not resisting media convergence because they have negative attitudes towards new technologies but due to institutional, organisational and value reasons, which will be discussed thoroughly in the next section.
To date, only a few studies have evaluated the influences of media convergence from a Chinese journalists’ perspective. Limited research has reflected the equivocal attitude of journalists towards media convergence and disclosed various factors that affect journalists’ attitude. Chan et al. (2006) conducted a survey involving full-time journalists in Shanghai and Hangzhou and indicated that journalistic websites founded by traditional media have higher credibility than their counterparts founded by commercial portal website. However, the perceived credibility of mainstream media organisations’ websites and commercial portals varies with the beliefs of journalists on journalism. A case study of the Shenzhen Newspaper Group conducted by Yin and Liu (2014) revealed a pessimistic view of media convergence from this organisation’s journalists and emphasised that the analysis of media convergence in non-Western countries must be contextualised within the relationship between state and media. Based on previous studies, a conclusion can be drawn as follows: To provide an insight into the effects of media convergence on the Chinese press industry, the relationship among state, media and journalists should be considered.
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.
Last year or the year before, I went to the trial over a deputy mayor in Fuzhou. Only another journalist and I went to the whole course of the first trial. He (a newspaper department supervisor) demanded strictly at that time that the number of online figures could not exceed 500. Plus, the next day he scolded (another journalist) in a loud voice, ‘It’s too foolish of you to have (only) offered them the lead of the foregoing news. You should have cut out a bit from each paragraph. You giving these 500 figures to others, who would read the newspaper?’ (Interviewee No. 14)