Will convergence help traditional media?

Updated: 2014-08-29 07:39

By Wang Wubin(China Daily)

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The fourth meeting of the Central Leading Group for Comprehensively Deepening Reforms on Aug 18 issued a clear guideline on the convergence of traditional and new media and their development. President Xi Jinpng's vow to develop "new, competitive mainstream media with advanced technologies" and set up "several powerful media groups with a high level of public trust and influence" means the convergence of the two forms of media is now a national policy.

Traditional media face two major crises. First, media organizations such as newspapers are facing financial problems, because their major source of revenue, that is, advertisement, has been in continuous decline and they have not been able to work out a new business pattern. And second, politically speaking, traditional media have been losing their power, credibility and influence with the rise of new media. Financial stability will decide whether traditional media will survive in the market, and regaining their power and influence will determine whether they will continue to draw people's attention.

The most direct appeal from China's top leadership is to push forward the convergence of traditional media and new media to help the former overcome the second dilemma. The question is: Will the convergence help traditional media take on the historical responsibility at a time when the Internet has become the main battlefield of public opinions, which relates directly to China's ideology and State power?

Since economic conditions could influence the function of politics, there is no option but to empower the media with strong competitive edge so that they could "occupy the high ground for information dissemination". New and competitive mainstream media and emerging media groups, which mainly will reflect public opinions, are exactly what the central government is planning to build. But we cannot ignore the fact that market success is a necessary but not binding condition for influencing public opinions, and that solid material foundation may not necessarily win public credibility.

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