Only six days after the first Mop post about the video, the kitten killer’s home was revealed as the town of Luobei in Heilongjiang Province, in the far northeast, and her name — Wang Jiao — was made public, as were her phone number and her employer. Wang Jiao and the cameraman who filmed her were dismissed from what the Chinese call iron rice bowls, government jobs that usually last to retirement and pay a pension until death.
However, the official belief of ‘sole responsibility for one’s own profits or losses’ that has been established since the marketisation of Chinese media industries made it impossible for the Fujian press industry to gain sustainable financial investments from the state. Hence, the present objective of media convergence has been to explore new pathways towards profitability. To date, only a few new media outlets in the Fujian press industry have garnered gains. This ‘adventitious feebleness’ in profitability is deemed by local journalists as a consequence of the ‘congenital deficiency’ in content as exacerbated by the censorship system.
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.
As part of a political project to seize ‘the commanding heights’ of information dissemination, namely to strengthen the traditional press’s influence in shaping public opinion, practices of media convergence within Fujian’s press groups are substantively compliant with the ‘top-down design’ that is aimed to effectively circumvent political risks and maximise fiscal investment and market return. To bypass the political minefield and manage other risks that the new media centre may encounter whilst promoting convergence, Fujian’s press groups built a three-phase censorship system of ‘editor–new media centre director–press leadership’, among many other measures. Rigorous controls over convergence risks have enabled the Fujian press industry to gain the anticipated policy bonus. For example, the new media centre, for which the Xiamen Daily Group invested over one million Yuan, significantly affected municipal leaders, thereby earning over 20 million Yuan of financial subsidies for the centre in 2015.
After filling the gap in policy, advertising has significantly promoted its proportion in media revenue. As of October 1992, domestic newspapers that achieved financial independence had accounted for one-third of the nationwide total (Zhao, 1998: 50). Since then on, advocating and promoting economic development and strengthening of media industry have become a dominant agenda of China’s media reform.
This decision means that the Chinese media must be dedicated to Party and government propaganda whilst earning profits and seeking for industry development. This institutional framework enabled the metropolis newspapers to emphasise the function of profitability that emerged in the mid-1990s. Differing from the party organs, the metropolis newspapers have consciously catered to the preferences of the audience in terms of content, including considerable emphasis on the timeliness, relevance and interesting aspects of the news, concentration on social and personal stories and a continuous increase in the proportion of entertainment and leisure contents. Zhao (1998: 159) opined that these measures are more about supplement than disobedience to the party organs, thereby extending the official ideology further to the social, personal and even mental domains.
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).