Media convergence draws top attention [China Daily: Africa Weekly]
(China Daily: Africa Weekly Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) It is highly noteworthy that, for the first time, the media were included in the national reform program by Chinese leader Xi Jinping in a speech on Monday.
Speaking at a meeting of the central leading group to deepen overall reform, Xi urged media to strengthen what he called the "Internet way of thinking" and speed up the "convergence" between traditional media and the Internet and mobile Internet.
Reform of the media was a new addition to the reform tasks outlined by the Third Plenum of the Communist Party of China Central Committee last November.
This is against the background that the use of the Internet has become a part of people's everyday life in China. The number of Internet users in the Chinese mainland was 632 million by the end of June, of whom 527 million access the Internet using mobile devices.
Some cases of official corruption were exposed on the Internet before they were brought to formal investigation, although at times the Internet has also been used to spread rumors.
Xi's focus on reforming the media also came against the background that even the media are not immune to corruption. Some China Central Television journalists and other staff members are under investigation for corruption.
Speaking on Monday, Xi urged the media to seek development in their technology as well as content, and to raise the level of their management.
He said China needs new, competitive "mainstream" media able to offer diverse content with advanced technologies, and several strong media groups enjoying a high level of public trust and influence; based on these, China's "modern communication system" will experience diverse and all-round development.
He also stressed that reform of the media should combine media convergence and management, in order to follow the correct path of progress.
China's media landscape largely divides between the more traditional State-run media and various new and more market-oriented media, from general portals and social network services on the Internet to newspapers targeting local consumers.
Liu Xiaoying, a professor with the Communication University of China, said Xi was "courageous" in taking the initiative and proposing reform of the media, which is an area where progress has yet to be made to match the progress of reform in other areas.
It shows the Chinese president "is quite clear about the media environment at home and abroad," Liu said.
The key to the success of the reforms will lie in the "integration of market forces and government plans" and should help the media raise their level of management, he added. Some media have raised reform slogans but have yet to do much in practice, Liu noted, adding their content lacks diversity and their management has many holes.
Huang Chuxin, a professor of media studies with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said he expected China's media development to "really see a breakthrough" in the current round of reform.
"We've been talking about media convergence for a long time. But for me, the key is not so much convergence as innovation, particularly innovation in media management. Convergence cannot be successful if it is just for the sake of convergence," Huang said.
Chen Weixing, a professor of communication studies with the Guangzhou-based Sun Yat-sen University, said the recent investigation into corruption at CCTV show that if reform continues to be slow, the media will lose the public's trust.
Rao Jin, a young entrepreneur who owns a small news website, said he was glad to hear President Xi's words and said he is willing to work with State-owned large media organizations.
But he pointed out that the so-called convergence can only be a transitional state in media development. At the end of the day, he said, all media, whatever channels they own, will have to operate under the "Internet way of thinking".
The author is a writer with China Daily. firstname.lastname@example.org
(China Daily 08/20/2014 page8)
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