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.
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.
59 95% confidence interval ranged between 55 and 90%. Old Wang is only 33% likely to read commercialized papers (95% confidence ranged between 24 and 42%). A dummy variable for having travelled to countries in Europe or North America was dropped from the analysis, because it predicted the use of commercialized papers perfectly. Results can be retrieved from the author upon request.
Such standpoint has led local press groups to successively adopt diverse approaches over the past two years to cope with the challenge of new media. Among these approaches, the ‘extendedly ameliorated’ path, namely the implementation of incremental development of newspapers through flow reconstruction whilst retaining their original production system (Mai, 2012: 118), has become a common option of most local press groups. Although media convergence exerts an increasingly significant effect on these local press groups, relevant empirical studies remain limited at present. The current study analyses the perceptions of local newspaper journalists on and evaluations of media convergence through a survey and 20 in-depth interviews so as to disclose the effects of the dominant path of media convergence on local press groups based on the understanding of and reflection on the viewpoints of the ‘insiders’.
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.
Focusing on the ‘top-down design’ of media convergence, market-oriented research relatively lacks in social solicitude and theoretical construction; valuing the ethics and obligations of converging media, the norm-oriented research demonstrates intense social solicitude but hardly receives industry-wide recognition. Both types of research fail to explain the full influence of media convergence. Considering that journalists are the critical actors of news production, the advancement of media convergence cannot proceed without the institutional arrangement from the top to the bottom as well as without the commitment and involvement of journalistic practitioners, particularly journalists, from the bottom to the top. The interaction between these two processes ultimately determines the scope, intensity and nature of the influences of media convergence.
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.
Wénlín Hànyǔ xuéxí ruǎnjiàn (Wénlín Wánzhěngbǎn) hé zìdiǎn kuòzhǎn chéngxù de kāifāzhě, Wénlín Yánjiūsuǒ Shèhuì Mùdì Gōngsī (SPC) wèi Hànyǔ xuéxí, yánjiū hé kāifā, tígōng ruǎnjiàn jiějué fāng'àn. Wénlín de shǐmìng shì bāngzhù rénmen xuéxí Hànyǔ hé Yīngyǔ, cùjìn bùtóng wénhuà jiān de jiàoyù, lǐjiě, gòngchǔ hé hézuò; fāzhǎn yǔyán hé jiàoyù kēxué, jìshù hé jìqiǎo. Yù liǎojiě gèngduō Wénlín Yánjiūsuǒ Shèhuì Mùdì Gōngsī de xiángqíng, qǐng diǎnjī wenlin.com.
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.
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).