How newspapers respond to technological change: a comparison between the UK and China

Mi Miao 2015. How newspapers respond to technological change: a comparison between the UK and China. PhD thesis University of Westminster Faculty of Media, Arts and Design

TitleHow newspapers respond to technological change: a comparison between the UK and China
TypePhD thesis
AuthorsMi Miao

This study investigates whether Internet technology and New Media innovations
have been homogenizing British and Chinese press journalism, and, if not, in
which ways and why they have responded differently.

The basic assumption of the thesis has been raised from Fidler's mediamorphosis
theory and it argues that the transformation of mass media is normally brought
about by a complex interplay between many variables (1996). To do this, the
study examines the complex processes through which news organizations have
been repositioning their brand identity and value, and through which journalistic
professionals have been redefining the notion of their craft and their work practices
in the UK and China. It first takes a historical perspective identifying the
commonalities and differences between press journalism of the two countries as
well as social and economic conditions that have in
uenced the ways in which
newspapers have responded to the development of communication technologies.
The thesis then selects four well-established newspapers from the UK and China
and compares the commonalities and differences between the online content they
produced, their editorial organizational patterns, established journalistic culture
in the four selected newsrooms. This study in the end discusses the impacts of
the complex interplay between historical journalistic traditions, commercial drives
and organizational structure as well as journalistic practices upon the ways in
which newspaper organizations in the two countries have responded to Internet
technology and New Media innovations.

This study finds that although all newspapers claim to be multi-platform content
providers, the two British newspapers, the Guardian and the Daily Mail, have
enhanced their brand value on the Internet by extending their journalistic values
and good practice online, while the two Chinese newspapers, the China Youth
Daily and the Southern City Daily, have faced a decline in brand credibility, a
decrease in journalistic integrity and an erosion of self-satisfaction among Party
journalists. This study identities the changes in organizational structure, as well
as the negotiations between the Internet's social and technical dimensions with
newsroom culture; and it goes on to evaluate how newspapers have managed to
achieve a good online strategy and excellent online journalistic practice, and have
enhanced journalists' self-perception.

However, the findings have also shown that there is a danger of deterioration in
the quality of journalism, and the reasons have been identified as: 1. requirements
for multimedia skills; 2. increased competition between 24-hour news channels,
online news portals and social media platforms; 3. the replacement of traditional
editorial judgments and journalistic practice through the availability of various
technical supplements.

The study makes two contributions to knowledge. First, the comparison between
the UK and China is a starting-point in seeking a new approach to the understanding
of media convergence and New Media phenomena, and a new way of
reasoning as to how the interplay between technological, cultural, commercial and
political pressures might shape journalism in terms of newsroom practice/routines
and organizational structure in different countries. Second, it is the first doctoral
study in the UK and other English{speaking countries to compare how newspaper
organizations practice online journalism in the UK and China as responses to the
development of Internet technology and New Media innovations, not only by
providing empirical evidence, but also by providing quantitative content analysis
of newspapers' online websites and a comparison between each newspaper's online
and onine versions. It will bring the understanding of Chinese journalism up-to-date.


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