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Tech-led transformation drives media reform

By Meng Wei | 2015-01-08 | Hits:
(Chinese Social Sciences Today)

Guidelines on promoting the integration and development of traditional and new media adopted at the fourth meeting of the Central Leading Group for Comprehensively Deepening Reforms include new measures for promoting media integration. The guidelines call for integration of traditional and new media as a national strategy conducive to promoting reform in publicity.

China has been making strides as a strong “cyberpower” amid rapid development of the Internet. Development of new media poses tremendous challenges to traditional and modern media models.

Since the mid-1990s, Chinese media has undergone a period of cluster development. The central government promoted new rounds of cultural reforms between 2003 and 2012. However, the traditional media still faces many problems due to its lack of innovation and decline in consumers.

The new generation of information technology brings a rare opportunity for the traditional media to speed up its transformation. The guidelines reflect the government’s determination to deepen media reforms. A technology-led media transformation is suitable in the current environment, largely advancing new media reforms.

Determining how to best integrate traditional and new media has become a global challenge. Based on China’s experience,  the union of the two so far has represented true integration. Integration should be realized in the following four aspects:

Firstly, news reportage must be more innovative. There are many deficiencies in current news reportage mechanisms within Chinese media. For example, editors in traditional media are highly professional yet lack innovation. Editors in new media, by contrast, are less professional yet more innovative by generating news that drives web traffic. It is urgent for media integration to address these problems.

Secondly, boundaries between different media groups must be broken and give way to a new media group. The guidelines observe that this requires establishing a new competitive, technologically advanced “mainstream media” that is both credible and influential.

Based on development of the media around the world, many Western media giants, including CNN and Viacom, have their own discourse power due to the cluster development. In the face of new development opportunities, a mechanism of capital operation must be introduced and regional boundaries need to be broken to form a modern communication system and enhance the Chinese media’s international discourse power.

Thirdly, old ways of thinking must be abandoned in favor of a scientific, efficient media management system. The formation of a new mechanism will inevitably lead to the improvement of management. The guidelines note that both integration and management require serious consideration. In view of deficiencies in management, a new stage of media integration should strengthen supervision, guaranteeing the fruitful development of a new type of media system. 

Fourthly, high-quality talents must be cultivated. Media integration relies on talented workers at its core. A large number of Chinese commercial media outlets, such as Sina and Tencent, have developed their talent resources over the past 20 years. Strengthening integration of human resources between traditional and new media and optimizing employment mechanisms have become significant steps for advancing media integration.


The author is the director of the Research Division of Network and New Media at the Institute of Journalism and Communication under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.