According to Mai (2012: 155–168), these two paths have rendered the cooperative interactions between the traditional and new media outlets far less frequent, if not totally suspended, and are likely to further alienate the newspapers from the original or latest new media departments. In other words, both paths create new administrative barriers whilst breaching or circumventing the original administrative barriers.
16 Expertise is defined as a source's “presumed knowledge and ability to provide accurate information.” See Petty, R. and Wegener, D., Attitude Change: Multiple Roles for Attitude Change (Boston: McGraw-Hill, 1998), p. 344. Objectivity refers to perceptions of media sources to be unbiased, accurate, fair and “to tell the whole story.” See Iyengar, S. and Kinder, D.R., Psychological Accounts of Agenda-Setting (Beverly Hills: Sage, 1985); Miller, J. and Krosnick, J., “News media impact on the ingredients of presidential evaluations: politically knowledgeable citizens are guided by a trusted source,” American Journal of Political Science, Vol. 44, No. 2 (2000), pp. 301–15.
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.
61 After 9 April those Beijingers with the most negative views of Japan avoided newspapers. See D. Stockmann, “What kind of information does the public demand? Getting the news during the 2005 anti-Japanese protests,” in S. Shirk (ed.), Changing Media, Changing China, forthcoming. Since non-readers were excluded from the statistical analysis, avoidance did not influence the empirical results presented here.
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.
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Understanding why most interviewed journalists also asserted that the assumptions that ‘multi-skilled journalists’ who can write, photograph and edit is unrealistic (if not entirely unreasonable), and claimed that newspaper journalists should be differentiated from specialised new media journalists who will transform into expert-type journalists in the future by delivering objective, rational and in-depth reportage on a certain subdivided domain. In this conception, new media practitioners remain quite distinct from their peers from the traditional media. However, such a difference has undergone slight changes, that is, traditional media practitioners have begun to admit and accept the possibility that their new media counterparts may be professionalised in the domain of news production. Journalists are consulting about their roles in reference to new media, although they are more inclined towards constriction rather than extension when adjusting their professional boundaries.
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.