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.
A total of 300 journalists from 11 newspapers (i.e., Xiamen Daily, Xiamen Evening News, Haixi Morning Post, Strait Herald, Fujian Daily, Strait Urban News, Fuzhou Daily, Fuzhou Evening News, Quanzhou Evening News, Southeast Morning Post and Strait Urban News (South Fujian Edition)) in the cities of Xiamen, Fuzhou and Quanzhou responded to the survey. After eliminating the ones in which over half of the questions were left unanswered, 274 copies of effective questionnaires were retrieved (completion rate = 91.3%). Two researchers input the data into SPSS19.0 and performed mutual proofreading to correct the errors in the manual input process. The findings were obtained through analysis of variance (ANOVA) and correlation analysis.
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.
5 See, for example, Li, C.-c., Voices of China: The Interplay of Politics and Journalism (New York: Guilford Press, 1990); Lynch, D.C., After the Propaganda State: Media, Politics, and “Thought Work” in Reformed China (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1999); Esarey, A., “Cornering the market: state strategies for controlling China's commercial media,” Asian Perspective, Vol. 29, No. 4 (2005), pp. 37–83; Zhao, Y., Communication in China: Political Economy, Power, and Conflict (Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2008); Polumbaum, J. and Lei, X., China Ink: The Changing Face of Chinese Journalism (Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2008).
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.
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)
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.
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.
Wénlín 4.1.1 dàiyǒu yī zhǒng chuàngxīn de héxīn jīchǔ jìshù hé chuàngzuò gōngjù, yòngyú shūrù, chuánshū hé zhǎnshì Unicode zhōng wèi bāohán de xīn zì, yìtǐzì, shēngpì zì děng Hànzì. Zìxíng Miáoshù Yǔyán (CDL) shì yī zhǒng chǔlǐ Zhōngwén, Rìwén hé Hánwén (CJK) zìtǐ hé shùjù de gèng jǐncòu, gèng gāoxiào, gèng zhǔnquè de fāngfǎ, tā de chūxiàn jiějué le cāozuò xìtǒng hé xiǎoxíng shèbèi píngtái kāifāzhěmen xīwàng jiějué de wèntí. Wénlín CDL kě chǔlǐ 3000 ge zuì chángyòng zì, xiàoguǒ yōuyú Unicode, tóngshí wúxiàn kuòzhǎn le zìfújí, wèi shìjiè qítā de yònghù tígōng le gèngduō zìyóu hé biànlì. Yǔnxǔ zhōngduān yònghù zài 4 bǎnběn zhōng shǐyòng CDL jìshù, zhè wèi géxīn CJK gōngnéng pūpíng le dàolù.
Such a characteristic of we-media has further squeezed the price bidding space of the new media of Fujian press industry in the area of content in local journalists’ eyes. What is worse, the procedure of three-phase censorship that deviates from the logic of new media is not strictly followed during the course of converging news production. Delays in the course of censorship have not only impaired the market competitiveness of the new media in terms of content, but also considerably reduced the willingness of journalists to collaborate 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).
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.