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).
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.
One of the goals of media convergence in the reconstruction process is to modify the journalist–editor relationship by veering from ‘journalist-centred’ to ‘editor-centred’, such that journalists shall mainly undertake the role of information gatherer, whereas editors perform the role of information synthesiser. Regarding real news production, most new media centre editors are recruited from the members of society who are familiar with new media but inexperienced in news gathering and editing; thus, they are mere ‘stevedores’ rather than ‘processors’ of texts. Given that editors lacked the required qualifications, journalists were forced to undertake additional tasks (e.g., verifying information and converting statements from frontline journalists into text) that should have been performed by editors.
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’.
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.
59 95% confidence interval ranged between 55 and 90%. Old Wang is only 33% likely to read commercialized papers (95% confidence ranged between 24 and 42%). A dummy variable for having travelled to countries in Europe or North America was dropped from the analysis, because it predicted the use of commercialized papers perfectly. Results can be retrieved from the author upon request.
47 On 10 and 12 April, media briefings with Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang were convened. See http://www.fmprc.gov.cn, accessed 31 May 2007. For reports see Beijing Youth Daily, 13 April 2008, Jinghua shibao, 13 April 2005, China Daily, 13 April 2005. Similar announcements by the spokesperson of the Public Security Bureau followed. See People's Daily and Beijing Youth Daily, 22 April 2005.
Both viewpoints have consistent cores, that is, the adherence to the principle that ‘content shall dominate’, which underscores the importance of content resources in maintaining and promoting the influential power of newspapers and in assisting newspapers to step out of the ‘cold winter’. This situation further evokes the hesitation of and the resistance from the journalists of the Fujian press industry as they maintain their professional dignity with effort.
The term ‘domestication’ originally refers to the process of bringing wild animals or plants under control and using them for food or as pets. In journalism research, ‘domestication’ generally refers to journalism practitioners establishing an association between a foreign news event and the domestic audience by applying certain strategies of representation (Gurevitch et al., 1991). In this study, ‘domestication’ describes the strong institutional inertia under which new media outlets have been progressively involved in the orbit of newspapers. Accordingly, this process homogenises the new media outlets with the system, routines and cultures of traditional media.
In 2001, the Publicity Department of CPC, the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television, and the General Administration of Press and Publication issued the Opinions on Intensifying Reform on the Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television Industry, thereby establishing media groups concurrently operating across media and regions as well as initiating comprehensive adjustment over the capital structure of media groups. In late 2003, the State Council issued the Notice on Printing and Issuing Two Regulations on Supporting the Transformation of Cultural Industry Development and that of Cultural Institutions into Enterprises in the Trail of Cultural System Reform to separate operative resources, such as the contents of social service and mass entertainment, from present institutional resources, thereby realising capitalisation. Henceforth, the gap in the domain of ownership has been further filled, and media reform has entered the capitalisation stage.
In September 1992, the Fifth Plenary Session of the 14th Central Committee recommended that the main direction in future adjustments of the industrial structure should be to ‘actively promote the tertiary industry’. In 1993, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the State Council officially included the media industry in the tertiary industry in the Decisions on Accelerating Development in the Tertiary Industry, while maintaining this industry’s attributes as a propaganda and administrative institution.
For Western journalism researchers, media convergence generally refers to the ‘cooperation and collaboration between formerly distinct media newsrooms and other parts of the modern media company’ (Deuze, 2004: 140). Chinese scholars were considerably inclined to use the phrase ‘full-media’ (Quan Meiti) to describe the convergence process. Full-media, which is a term coined by Chinese media practitioners, implies a figure of oriental holism under the perspective of Chinese traditional philosophy (Ji et al., 2013). Mai (2012: 41) employed observation and in-depth interviews and defined full-media convergence as ‘a mode of structural integration of news production, dissemination and business operation on the platforms of new communication technology’.
Last year or the year before, I went to the trial over a deputy mayor in Fuzhou. Only another journalist and I went to the whole course of the first trial. He (a newspaper department supervisor) demanded strictly at that time that the number of online figures could not exceed 500. Plus, the next day he scolded (another journalist) in a loud voice, ‘It’s too foolish of you to have (only) offered them the lead of the foregoing news. You should have cut out a bit from each paragraph. You giving these 500 figures to others, who would read the newspaper?’ (Interviewee No. 14)
Wénlín 4.2 fābù de tóngshí, gōngsī wǎngzhàn de zhěngtǐ chóngxīn shèjì yě jiēzhǒng'érlái, xīn wǎngzhàn bāohán le Hànyǔ Pīnyīn, jiǎntǐ, fántǐ xíngshì de fānyì. Wénlín 4.2 Bǎn kě zài wǎngshàng (wenlinshangdian.com) shēngjí, shēngjí fèiyòng jǐn shí Měiyuán, yòngyú zhīchí chǎnpǐn kāifā. Wénlín zuìjìn fābù de Yuēhàn Luósēnnuò biānjí de “Hàn-Yīng Yànyǔ Cídiǎn” ruǎnjiàn de fùfèi yònghùmen: Hànyǔ Yànyǔ ABC Cídiǎn (Hàn-Yīngyǔ Cídiǎn), yě kě zài wǎngshàng yǐ 19.99 Měiyuán gòumǎi, hái jiāng miǎnfèi huòdé Wénlín 4.2 shēngjíbǎn.
Wénlín de héxīn shǐmìng, rú gōngsī xīn zhāngchéng zhōng suǒ guīdìng, shì wèile bāngzhù rénmen xuéxí yǔyán, zhǔyào shì Hànyǔ hé Yīngyǔ; cùjìn bùtóng wénhuà jiān de jiàoyù, lǐjiě, xīnshǎng, hépíng, hézuò, tuánjié yǐjí duōyàngxìng; fāzhǎn yǔyán hé jiàoyù kēxué, jìshù hé jìqiǎo. Duìyú Wénlín Hànyǔ Xuéxí Ruǎnjiàn hé ABC xìliè cídiǎn dāngqián jí wèilái de yònghùmen, chúle tōngguò wéihù, kuòzhǎn, gǎishàn, xǔkě hé chūbǎn zhèxiē zuòpǐn hé qítā zuòpǐn lái zhīchí tāmen, Wénlín hái zhìlìyú wéihù zhèxiē zuòpǐn de wánzhěng, shēngyù hé yuánzé, bǐngchéng le tóngshí shǐyòng pīnyīn (pīnyīn wénzì) hé Hànzì (gèzhǒng xíngshì de Hànyǔ wénzì) de yuánzé miànxiàng Hànyǔ xuéxí, zhēng chuàng zhǔnquèxìng, xuéshùxìng, kěkàoxìng, gōngpíngxìng, xiàoyòng hé zhìliàng de zuìgāo biāozhǔn. Cǐwài, zuòwéi yī ge SPC zǔzhī, Yánjiūsuǒ huì chuánshòu wǒmen de zhuānjiā tuánduì shǐyòng de jìnéng, ràng hòurén yánxù wǒmen de shìyè.
Accordingly, the following questions must be answered in the context where the tension between newspapers and new media departments seems persistent: What will be the destiny of metropolis newspapers if they deviate from converging news production? Will other types of newspapers, due to their loss of market competitive edge to new media outlets, shift to the role of ‘Party Mouthpiece’ that has previously been performed by the party organs? Evidently, these questions can be explored in future research.
As national policy is further loosened, the Chinese media have begun exploring diversified modes of business operation. In 1996, the Guangzhou Daily Newspaper Group announced its foundation, thereby unfolding the prelude of conglomeration of Chinese media. However, the process of conglomeration accelerated significantly only during the turn of the millennium, which has also benefited from the promulgation of a series of polices.
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.