4 Therefore, some observers suspected that “Anti CNN” messages were part of a larger propaganda effort to discredit reports that contradicted the official line of the state. See New York Times, 25 March 2008; Sueddeutsche Zeitung, 28 March 2008. Foreign Ministry spokesperson Qin Gang denied any direct links between the website and the Chinese government. http://www.chinese-embassy.org.uk/eng/zt/fyrth/t419160.htm, accessed 20 July 2008.
Despite the party-market corporatism, Lee et al. (2007) explained that significant multiplicity continues to exist in the developmental path of local media because of differences in power structure and market maturity. Guangzhou media represent the ‘market competition within party-state ideological limits’ pattern. For example, three press groups in Guangzhou compete fiercely with separate content strategies, while Guangzhou Daily and Yangchen Evening Daily cater primarily to daily life relevance and avoid ‘grand narratives’, Nanfang City Daily and Nanfang Weekend often expose official wrongdoings and advocate liberal ideas. Beijing media that are hierarchically structured in parallel to national, ministerial and municipal levels of administrative authorities compete both horizontally and vertically for power and market on behalf of their patrons and constituencies, thus represent the ‘managed diversity through a precarious of the emerging interest politics among counterbalancing power bases’ pattern. For example, as the authors put it, the supreme leader Mao had to turn to the Shanghai press to wage wars against the Beijing Daily on the eve of the period of the Cultural Revolution because his influence at that point could not fully reach the constituency of the Beijing Daily (Lee et al., 2007).
Moreover, the decline of influence on public opinion is definitely another key factor that triggered the convergence within Chinese press industry. It is fairly illustrated in Secretary-General Xi Jinping’s ‘8•19’ speech on ‘boost the convergence between traditional and new media, and completely apply new technology in innovating the forms of media communication to seize a commanding height in the field of information communication’ (Liu, 2014). This situation is relatively similar to that of the media conglomeration in the late 1990s, when the legitimacy of reform stemmed from the policy of making domestic media ‘bigger and stronger’ to pre-empt the anticipated foreign competition in the World Trade Organization era. Meanwhile, a majority of domestic press groups were established based on administrative decrees rather than on business demands (Chen and Lee, 1998). Eliminating ‘dispersion’ and ‘chaos’ in the public opinion domain is the key factor that catalyses both media conglomeration and media convergence.
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.
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.