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.
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.
Two alternative paths are presently available for the local press industry to thoroughly address the issue of content for new media outlets. The first path is to remove the administrative hierarchy between metropolis newspapers and party organs, with the new media centre providing news to both newspapers and new media outlets for further editing. In this case, the new media outlets are not incorporated into the new media centre but remain at the same administrative level as the traditional media departments. Hence, the vertical communication between the new media centre and various new media outlets increases, yet the horizontal interaction between newspapers and new media outlets dramatically reduces. The second path is to insulate the newspapers from converging news production, with the centre producing content independently for new media outlets.
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).
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The major obstacle to journalists’ willingness to collaborate is not their unawareness of the immense influence that new media has upon the press industry but their professional dignity. That is, the fiercer the competition that the press industry encounters, the greater the urgency that the journalists feel in defending the boundary between themselves, professionals and amateurs, who encompass all types of emerging information providers on new media. This elitist imagination of the profession motivates journalists to resist collaborating with the new media centres and inspires those who actively adapted themselves to converging news production.
Li, M. (2017). Jishu chuanbo xingzhi kecheng de sheji yu shixian tansuo: yi tongji daxue shiyong yingyu xiezuoke weili (Design and practice of courses with TC features—Case study of practical english writing course at Tongji University). Shanghai Ligong Daxue Xuebao (Shehui Kexue Ban )(Journal of University of Shanghai for Science and Technology), 39(2), 101–107. [李梅. (2017). 技术传播性质课程的设计与实现探索——以同济大学实用英语写作课为例.《上海理工大学学报(社会科学版)》39(2), 101–107].Google Scholar
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.
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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.
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