17 participants from 13 countries across the Asia Pacific region converged in Beijing from 10 till 19 October 2018 for a 10 days workshop. In the AIBD / CGTNC Regional Workshop on Convergent Journalism, they were given deep insights into the emergence of media convergence; trends, experience and success story of China in media convergence; and innovation for media tools and products for handling the challenges of media convergence.
These participants who were reporters, journalists, editors, TV or Radio producers, research officers, Head of Social Media or News Unit; learned that no matter how great storytellers they were and no matter how attractive their stories were, the young people in their countries today are not listening to radio news or watch TV nor read newspaper but rather believe that social media is the truth. Their TV stations, public and private, and mainstream papers are facing hard time to keep business going.
Faced with the challenges of this New Convergent Media on Big Data Platform where contents were driven by Artificial Intelligent technology, these participants converged in this workshop which was mooted by AIBD and CGTNC to find answers.
Many renowned professors from Communication University of China (CUC), Beijing were invited to the workshop to share their research findings on media convergence in what is called as China`s nutshell of prosumers (producers + consumers=prosumers).
The lecturers comprised of:
1. Mr Shen Hao, Professor and Director, Big Data Mining and Social Computing Laboratory, CUC who spoke in Session1: Data Value and Visual Communication in the Era of Big Data
2. Mr Cao Peixin, Professor, Faculty of Journalism and Communication, CUC for Session 2: Understanding China`s Media Theory: History and the Present
3. Mr. Cao Sanxing, Professor& Deputy Director, New Media Institute, CUC for Session 3: AI +VR + Blockchain, Innovation and Reformation of New Media in Broadcasting and TV
4. Mr Ye Mingrui, Assoc. Professor & Master Supervisor, Faculty of Journalism & Communication, CUC for Session 4: User Thinking and Media Product Transformation in Convergent Environment
5. Mr Zeng Xiangmin, Professor & Doctoral Supervisor, Faculty of Journalism & Communication, CUC for Session 5: Content Innovation of Media Convergent
6. Mr Fu Xiaoguang, Assoc.Professor & Master Supervisor, Television School, Faculty of Journalism & communivation, CUC for Session 6: Content Production L Logic Under Internet Thinking
7. Mr Ji Deqiang, Assoc.Professor of Communication, National Centre for Communication Innovation Studies, CUC for Session 7: Media Convergence with Chinese Characteristics
8. Ms Liu Shan, Assoc .Professor, School of Information Engineering, CUC for Session 8: Smart Labels Opens a New Era of Media Content Production.
The emergence of prosumers in New Convergent Media
Amongst highlights of the workshop, was Assoc. Prof. Ye Mingrui, who gave an overall view of Chinese Media organizations transforming in a convergent environment. In his paper –The Transforming Media Audience: New Media ? New Audience?– he said with the emergence of the new media, traditional media can no longer tell the audience/consumer the stories or news the way they want them to believe. In the present China`s new era, the role of audience/consumer has changed the digital media. The audience/consumers control the way news or story to be told, they have become the prosumers.
He spoke of the need to revisit the features of media audience in current informational circumstance, analyzing media users ‘behavior in the new media environment, understanding traditional media users and the newly emerged media users, and what kind of personal behavior should be recognized as producers in today`s information convergent environment?
For Assoc. Prof. Fu Xiaoguang, he believed that understanding online behavior from an active user perspective is the effective way to tell a story on internet. He said, “In the past, we just produce a report by locating a topic, prove the point and give a conclusion but today, we design online user behavior and pose a challenge to attract everybody to participate. On the internet you produce consumer behavior and consumers design the content. Audience has thus become prosumers.”
Role of Big Data and AI in New Convergent Media
The participants learned that consumer behavior is determined through collection of Big Data which is analyzed by Artificial Intelligent (AI) technology. According to Prof.Liu Shan, Big Data are structured data, digital satellite imaging, texts and scripts and are everywhere- in mobile handphone, computer, social media and network (FB, You Tube, Twitter, Flicker), website, purchase online, bank card, google site etc. Big Data captures and manages lots of information for use to analyze the content, profile people and product.
Meanwhile Prof. Ji Deqiang, advocated the sharp decline of the direct usage of traditional media, the quick increase of using social media as gateway to a convergent / integrated media environment, and a consumption-driven transformation that pave the way for the media convergence in China and A Digital China Vision 2019. However, he said not a single media system model has grasped the dynamics of media development in contemporary China this far yet.
Prosumer– influenced content production in New Convergent Media
The participants had a few enriching on -sites learning. At the All New Media (OMNI) Centre of CUC TV, they were shown how CUC students were taught the course of using AI for big data analysis of social behavior and visualization for prosumer-influenced content production in a convergent environment. All were mesmerized with the innovation, technology and studio facilities for the convergence of internet and mobile media; amongst which were the panorama, virtual and 4K high tech studio (built in 2016), the command and control centre for big data information and real-time news analysis and production with cloud computer system.
At the China Daily site visit, the participants were informed that after 37 years in the traditional print media, China Daily has to turn towards the new digitalized media in a convergent platform. Their Deputy Director shared their challenges of how they had trained their conservative journalists to embrace new media to sustain business survival. All the participants seized every opportunity to learn and ask extensively in the classroom and on-site teaching.
Besides these on -site learnings, the participants were also taken to some arts and cultural visits in Beijing – Yangliuqing Cultural town and the 798 Art District to witness the transformation of the Chinese artistic and creative society in the era of Big Data and convergence environment towards A Digital China Vision 2019.
The workshop ended with Mr Yike Qiao, Deputy Director of Strategic Investment Department, CGTNC, remarking that new media is just a technological platform while content is still the most important component in the past and for the era to come even though its prosumer– influenced content production. He reminded all that media needs big data for easier mass understanding and AI cannot substitute human. There is indeed no denying convergent journalism is the dawn among those who are still the traditional media and soon to be the way forward in the era of Big Data and AI for all.