The last two sections show some potential changes in the dominant path of media convergence adopted by the local press industry. Existing studies indicate that institutional and organisational factors considerably influence the journalists’ perception of their professional roles (Tao and Zhang, 2014; Wu et al., 1996; Zhang and Wu, 2016). Long-term attention is equally worthwhile with regard to whether the future structural adjustment of the local press industry in the area of media convergence will change the journalists’ identification of their roles.
Lā Qiáolā (La Jolla), Jiālìfúníyàzhōu -- Wénlín Hànyǔ Xuéxí Ruǎnjiàn hé CDL zìtǐ jìshù de kāifāzhě -- Wénlín Yánjiūsuǒ, yóu yī jiā pǔtōng qǐyè (gōngsī) zhuǎnxíng chéngwéi “shèhuì mùdì gōngsī” (SPC gōngsī). Tāngmǔ Bìxiǎopǔ (Tom Bishop) zhǔxí jiěshì le zhè yī juédìng: “Wǒmen de jiàoyù shǐmìng, cǐkè, zài fǎlǜ shang, chéngwéi le wǒmen cúnzài de gēnběn yìyì. Zhè yī xīn dìngwèi wèi ràng gèngduō de rén cānyù dào wǒmen de zǔzhī zhōng pūpíng le dàolù, tóngshí jiāng wǒmen de fāzhǎn tíshēng dào xīn de shuǐpíng. Xiànzài wǒmen yǒuquán yě bìxū zài wǒmen gōngsī de zhāngchéng zhōng guīdìng: jiàoyù jí qítā shèhuì mùdì shì wǒmen de zuìgāo zōngzhǐ.” Chúle yào kuòchōng yī zhī yōuxiù tuánduì, bāokuò cídiǎn biānzuǎn, yǔyánxué, biānchéng hé jiàoyù de dǐngjiān zhuānjiā, Wénlín Yánjiūsuǒ Gōngsī SPC dǎsuàn bǎ cídiǎn hé qítā xuéxí cáiliào fābù dào wǎngshàng, ràng quánqiú fúhé zīgé de gòngxiànzhě kěyǐ xiézuò gǎishàn bìng xiūzhèng Zhòng-Yāng zīyuánkù. Gōngsī de xīn dìngwèi biǎomíng línjìn fābù de Wénlín Hànyǔ Xuéxí Ruǎnjiàn 4.2 bǎn jiāng yǔ zhòngdà shēngjí hòu de gōngsī wǎngzhàn tóngbù lóngzhòng tuīchū.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In addition, technology is equally a vital impetus for China’s media reform. Since the reform and opening-up, the popularisation of satellite technology, the Internet, mobile Internet and other technologies have changed the microscopic form, industrial structure, business model and operational mentality of Chinese media as well as accelerated the progress of media reform (Xiong et al., 2010).
The survey (see Table 2) indicates that from the viewpoint of local journalists in Fujian, new media has generally expanded the sources of news and facilitated contact with news-related groups. However, new media has also raised considerably high requirements for journalists’ expertise and spawned fierce peer competitions. Moreover, the respondents relatively agreed with the influences of new media in terms of enhancing journalists’ knowledge about the audience, although they disagreed with the belief that new media has marginalised news gathering and editing. The respondents took relatively positive attitudes towards the overall influences of new media on news production.
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.
The impetus for junior journalists to participate in the converging news production is the same consideration that prevents senior journalists from collaborating with the new media centre, that is, to achieve the balance between gain and cost. The industry and the journalists ‘inside the system’ (tizhinei) are likely to opt for political safety over financial return, whereas their counterparts ‘outside the system’ (tizhiwai) ascribe considerable importance to the latter than the former.