The convergence of the Chinese press industry is thus not merely driven by the effects of market and technological logic from the beginning, unlike in Europe and the US. Actually, administrative fiat plays a pivotal role in each stage of media convergence. In the mid- and late-1990s, the ‘touch the Internet’ (Chuwang) action of traditional news media, namely to establish online newspapers, has expanded from the top to the bottom ‘with the state as the sponsor’ and ‘national media as the leader’ (Yu, 2015). Similarly, the establishment of the collaborative relationship between newspapers and new media on news production at the beginning of the 21st century could not be realised without the intervention of administrative power, including approval for the construction of major news websites to produce original contents. The wave of media convergence that began in 2006 is also inseparable from the official ‘top-down design’. In the beginning, the General Administration of Press and Publication was concurrently the project sponsor and supervisor. Thereafter, the media convergence of the central and local press industry has been highly dependent on financial funding from the government.
The press groups in Fujian have adopted the extendedly ameliorated path of media convergence. Firstly, they hired a technology company to establish a platform for converging news production. Secondly, a new media centre was established. Thirdly, a group of editors from the press newsroom were transferred to the centre to handle the new media outlets, particularly the website, Weibo, Wechat and APP. Lastly, a process reconstruction of the news production was undertaken by uniformly importing information from multiple sources into the centre for processing and delivering to new media outlets.

Zhang, ZA, Wu, T (2014) The dual declinings of propagandist and watchdog roles: Chinese Journalists’ media role perception, the changes and antecedents (‘Xuanchuanzhe’ yu ‘jianduzhe’ de shaungchong shiwei: Zhongguo xinwen congyezhe meijie juese renzhi, bianqian ji yingxiang yinsu). Journal of International Communication (Guoji xinwenjie) 6: 61–75.

The historical course of China’s media reform is coincidental with the intrinsic logic of the transformation in national political ideology from contradiction theory to economy-centric theory (Li and Hu, 2013). However, this situation does not mean that political determinism would suffice to explain the China’s media reform. The transformation towards media groups did not result in mere innovation in the size, structure and managerial ideal of the media industries but also the ‘self-consciousness’ of actively promoting economic gains and the tendency to transform capitalism, ownership and other concepts into the reasonable kernel of media reform (Li and Hu, 2013). These have transcended far beyond the scope of what ‘political correctness’ can explain.


* This article is part of a book project examining the impact of media commercialization on news content and public opinion in China, tentatively titled Propaganda for Sale. For fruitful research collaboration I would like to thank Iain Johnston, Shen Mingming and the members of the Research Center for Contemporary China. I am also grateful for financial support provided by the Harvard-Yenching Institute and the Center for Chinese Studies at the University of Michigan. Many thanks as well to the participants of the Chinese politics workshop at the University of Wisconsin, Madison for helpful comments and to Wang Mingde for research assistance.
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)
The effects of the dominant path of media convergence on the mid-size press industry are the focus of this study. The path chosen by the press industry in other regions of China may differ from the dominant one in Fujian due to the nuances of power structure, level of economic development, size of press group and other factors. For example, the Nanfang Media Group’s choice of the fully transformed path has a bearing on its pioneering spirit and remarkable investment, which are derived from its distance from the centre of political power, the prosperity of the market economy in Guangdong and the surrounding areas, and the considerable assets from accumulation within the media group in the past decades (Yin and Liu, 2013). Nevertheless, Fujian’s case discloses the common challenges that the Chinese press industry will face as they further advance the convergence regardless of which path they choose. This study also develops an analytical framework based on the interplay amongst the state, media and journalists to be used in future research on China’s media convergence.
The insistence of local journalists to maintain professional boundaries results from the ideology of professionalism that has permeated throughout China’s journalism education and practice since the reform and opening-up policy. Such insistence also manifests the responsive identification of these journalists under the context in which the journalistic profession is increasingly declining (Donsbach, 2010).
The authors adopted a semi-structural interview and provided an outline for the journalists that mainly revolved around the following nine questions: (1) When did you start using new media in your daily work? (2) What is your reason for using new media? (3) What do you think is the role of new media in news production? (4) What measures have been adopted by the press group that you are currently working for in terms of media convergence? (5) Did such measures result in changes in your daily work? If yes, what are such changes? What can you say about these changes? (6) How do you interpret the effects of media convergence on journalists based on your personal experience? (7) What is your overall evaluation of the media convergence within the press group you are working for? (8) Are you aware of the measures of other press groups in terms of media convergence? What is your opinion on their measures? (9) What can you say about the viewpoint of the local press industry that media convergence is the way out for its current predicament? Specific to the interviewees of other categories, the questions varied in terms of how they are stated and their order of arrangement.
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).
Although the competitiveness of commercial new media are discerned, the interviewed journalists remain inclined to regard the contents of new media as ‘superficial’, ‘fast food-like’ and ‘targeting lower-level readers’. Accordingly, the journalists believe that the poor quality of the content provided by the nonprofessional new media outlets further highlights the importance of the journalists’ professional expertise of separating falsity from truth.
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Whereas the day-to-day operation of the new media outlets are gradually involved into the political orbit of the Chinese media system, there is a barrier to the convergence which arises from the competitive relationship between the traditional and new media departments for more resources and market rewards yet to be surmounted. The new media centre has difficulty in gaining the support of newspapers, particularly metropolis newspapers in content production, which may accelerate the adjustment of the administrative structure within the local press industry.
The majority of the scholarly analyses of convergence under the culture-oriented perspective have focused on its effects on routines, skills and roles. Several studies indicate that media convergence has changed the routine of information gathering, editing and reporting within newsrooms (Phillips et al., 2009); made journalistic practices considerably stressful with the emergence of multiskilling (Wallace, 2013) and posed severe challenges on the traditional roles of news media, such as ‘gatekeeper’ (Williams and Delli Carpini, 2000) and ‘agenda-setter’ (Quandt and Singer, 2009), as the tendency of convergence between professional- and user-produced content becomes increasingly appreciable. Other studies that employed the same approach indicate that although journalists are confronted with multiple challenges, they do not necessarily take a negative stance to evaluating media convergence. Accordingly, the degree of media convergence (Saltzis and Dickinson, 2008) and size of a media organisation (Mishra, 2014) can affect the perceptions journalists have on convergence journalism, thereby affecting their attitude towards media convergence.
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