Males and females accounted for 49.6% and 50.4%, respectively, of the total number of respondents. The respondents with a degree of and below junior college accounted for 1.8%, those with bachelor’s degree accounted for 83.5% and those with a master’s degree or above accounted for 14.7%. Among the respondents, 33.2% came from party organs, whilst 66.8% came from metropolis newspapers. The mean age of the respondents was 31 years old (M = 30.63, SD = 6.35) and the mean number of years at work was 8 (M = 7.62, SD = 6.50).
On the event of the shipwreck in the Yangtze River last year, I sent (passengers’ identity numbers) to the editor-on-duty of the website. He said, ‘Tell me the number of (Fuzhou) people’. I told him he could roughly estimate the number by counting those identity numbers starting with ‘35’. He said, ‘You might as well help me count’. I was being busy on the spot. And I was expected to be the one managing such trivial matters! (Interviewee No. 14)
Starting from the emergence of online newspapers, traditional media departments, particularly their leadership, were rather ‘antagonistic’ against new media departments based on the concerns over newspaper circulation. Nevertheless, the competitive relationship between the two types of departments remained unclear because new media departments were situated in a relatively marginalised position inside the press industry. After media convergence along the dominant path was officially launched, original new media departments have been integrated into the new media centre. Vast financial support, manpower and material investments were put to the new media centres of the Fujian press industry, which had reinforced the position of new media department as a ‘rival’ to newspaper offices.
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’.
For the Fujian press industry, the local journalists’ attitude towards the new media is moderately positive, which is inconsistent with their negative attitude towards the convergence of newspapers and new media. In other words, the journalists’ pessimistic views on media convergence are not because of their dislike of new technology but a manifestation of the institutional, organisational and individual complexities within the local press industry. The demographic factors that affect the journalists’ attitude towards new media, including age, years at work and type of newspaper, have unique connotations under the Chinese media system.
A total of 300 journalists from 11 newspapers (i.e., Xiamen Daily, Xiamen Evening News, Haixi Morning Post, Strait Herald, Fujian Daily, Strait Urban News, Fuzhou Daily, Fuzhou Evening News, Quanzhou Evening News, Southeast Morning Post and Strait Urban News (South Fujian Edition)) in the cities of Xiamen, Fuzhou and Quanzhou responded to the survey. After eliminating the ones in which over half of the questions were left unanswered, 274 copies of effective questionnaires were retrieved (completion rate = 91.3%). Two researchers input the data into SPSS19.0 and performed mutual proofreading to correct the errors in the manual input process. The findings were obtained through analysis of variance (ANOVA) and correlation analysis.
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.