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.
To answer the research question 1, the authors analysed the attitude of local journalists of Fujian towards new media with the method of survey. Available studies (cf. Wu and Zhang, 2015; Zhou, 2014) were used as bases to categorise the measurement of journalists’ attitude into two dimensions: The perception on the changes that new media have brought to news production and the overall appraisal of these changes. Measurement of the perception involves the following six items: (1) New media expanded the sources of news, (2) New media facilitated contact with work-related groups, (3) New media deepened knowledge on audience, (4) New media enhanced the requirements for journalists’ expertise, (5) New media intensified competitions with journalistic peers and (6) New media marginalised news gathering and editing inside the press group. A five-level scale was adopted (ranging from 1 to 5; 1 represents ‘strongly disagree’ and 5 represents ‘strongly agree’). The overall appraisal of those changes was measured by one item: What do you think of the overall influence of new media on news production? A five-point scoring was likewise adopted (1 representing ‘extremely negative’ and 5 representing ‘extremely positive’). Thereafter, demographic factors were measured, which included age, gender, educational degree, years at work and type of newspaper. At the end of the questionnaire, the respondents were asked if they are willing to accept an interview about their opinions on media convergence and leave their contact information.
In light of the relationship between newspapers and websites, Mai (2012: 118–119) classified the path of media convergence of Chinese press industry into three types: extendedly ameliorated, establishing a convergence platform with newspapers as the core without changing the mechanism of content production and the structure of press industry; new media driven, setting up a convergence platform with new media as the core to push forward newspapers to progressively transform the flow, relationship and concept of news production; and fully transformed, replacing the original structure of the press industry with a brand new structure. Of the three, the ‘extendedly ameliorated’ approach has become the dominant path of media convergence because it rarely challenges the intrinsic structural restriction of press groups.
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.
To date, the pioneers of media convergence have been thoroughly studied by Chinese scholars. Other press groups as ‘followers’, particularly the local press groups that adopted the dominant path of media convergence, are less highlighted and rarely focused within journalism studies, although they are precisely what have crucially endowed the landscape of Chinese media convergence with regional diversity. The deficiency in relevant studies has entailed the urgent choice of Chinese scholars to focus on media convergence of the local press industry.
Conversely, although the Chinese government has promulgated a series of laws to regulate the content on the Internet since the implementation of the Interim Provisions on Internet Publication Management in 2002, commercial we-media have gained highly substantial market return by virtue of the size effect and flexibility of user-produced contents. Given that the main rival of Fujian’s local journalists for the role of opinion frontrunner in information dissemination does not undergo the direct regulation of the publicity sector, the ‘VIPs’ of we-media have public credibility that is comparable to that of traditional media.
Such a characteristic of we-media has further squeezed the price bidding space of the new media of Fujian press industry in the area of content in local journalists’ eyes. What is worse, the procedure of three-phase censorship that deviates from the logic of new media is not strictly followed during the course of converging news production. Delays in the course of censorship have not only impaired the market competitiveness of the new media in terms of content, but also considerably reduced the willingness of journalists to collaborate with the new media centre.