People’s Daily Explores New Mechanism for Integrated Development
In recent years, People’s Daily has directed equal attention to the development of both traditional and new media. It is transforming itself from a newspaper producer into a new mainstream omni-media and media group with over ten platforms and hundreds of terminals, including newspaper, magazines, website, web TV, webcast, electronic board, mobile news, Weibo, and WeChat apps. People’s Daily now has 30 branch newspapers and periodicals, 44 websites, 118 Weibo accounts, 31 mobile phone apps and 20,000 electronic reading boards. According to estimate, its total subscribers have surpassed 300 million.
In 2014, People’s Daily established a meeting system for integrated development of traditional and new media to study how to coordinate its work in this respect and work out corresponding plans in accordance with central government’s policies and the bigger picture of media development. By fully exploiting its omni-media platform, it has innovated its production chain of content planning, information gathering, editing and release to introduce a model in which news, once edited, is released on a variety of platforms. It is expanding its coverage by posting information on its Weibo and WeChat accounts and its mobile phone apps. Its influence and content building is strengthened by giving full play to its traditional strength of delivering in-depth reports, comments and opinion.
Its omni-media platform project, as the prerequisite and the strategic engine for boosting integrated development, is designed to realize the connectivity of news resources and business transformation and upgrading. The platform includes an omni-media news hall, a news production and management system, a news supermarket, and cloud services for media convergence. Among these, the omni-media news hall functions as both the project core, and the command and control center for news production. The news production and management system focuses on rebuilding the production flow. The news supermarket aims to share the editorial staff, content resources and distribution channels of media under People’s Daily and other national mainstream media, and its cloud services platform is committed to offering media convergence services to all kinds of media. Through optimizing its platform, improving the production process, integrating resources, readjusting the target subscribers, better management and decision making, and an innovative business model, it plans to boost its influence and profitability. In March 2014, People’s Daily Media Innovation was founded with a commitment to cultivating first-class and core teams for media technology in China.
(1) “Central Kitchen Style” Working Mechanism Starts Trial Operation
Based on the omni-media platform, this working mechanism integrates editorial forces and news resources to make news planning, gathering, editing and reporting an organic whole, to be broadcast on multiple platforms. It is done through a work flow offering differentiated contents, story-style news, and visualized data. Following the two sessions in 2014, People’s Daily started trial operation of this working mechanism. The trials and errors in experimenting with and exploring this new mechanism, in introducing new technology, and creating new products, offer valuable examples for full integration of contents, channels and platforms.
The “central kitchen style” platform has three teams responsible for coordination and promotion, content and visual products, respectively. These responsibilities are taken by liaisons, salesmen, servers and programmers to ensure that news, once edited, is released on a variety of platforms. Liaisons, or the coordinating group, contact and communicate information between reporters, editors, newspapers, websites, Weibo and WeChat accounts and apps through editorial software, WeChat group, phone and email to realize resource integration and improve efficiency. The sales staff, or marketing group, send news on the “central kitchen platform” to all its channels and apps, and then promote them to over 100 partner media units nationwide to cover as many terminals as possible and maximize its communication value. The servers, or content-making team, provide dedicated services to reporters and help them to produce a variety of political news. On average, one reporter is supported by four editors to optimize resource allocation and improve efficiency. The editors help design and coordinate in the early stage, and give deeper analysis and reprocess the news. Programmers, also the team for visualization, apply HTML5 (H5 hereinafter) to visualize these news items and turn them into news that is transmissible by internet and enables viewer participation.
At the two sessions in 2015, for example, the omni-media platform of People’s Daily released 118 news products of different types, 60 of which were reports on the work of the Standing Committee of the CPC Political Bureau, of which 35 were first published. A series of exclusive and in-depth reports, pictures, charts, videos and H5 products produced an extensive and better impact.
Before each major political activity, the “central kitchen” platform designs a menu in advance for producing quality news, which are produced according to three criteria. First, speed. While adhering to a strict review procedure, journalists and editors, through seamless connection, try to ensure the first release of news flashes on new media channels. Second, comprehensive. The report presents all related news facts and background by digging to the core of the political activity, combing historical materials, and summing up policy essence. Third, in-depth. The report gives an in-depth analysis of news topics while reviewing that day’s activity and historical facts to explain concepts of governance behind the activity. Through progressive analysis, the effect of reports achieves the best possible coverage of the two sessions.
Efficient and wide-ranging news coverage results from close and tacit cooperation between reporters and follow-up teams, and an optimized news production and distribution line featuring integrated resources and uninterrupted channels. During the two sessions in 2015, the omni-media “central kitchen” platform of the People’s Daily released dozens of exclusive and in-depth reports like “Six Clues to Tell Xi Jinping’s Highlights This Year,” “Understanding Four Comprehensives — Further Analysis by Four High Officials,” “Li Keqiang’s Attitude to Power Use,” “Xi Jinping’s Four Concerns at the Two Sessions.” These articles, prepared with foresight and vision, are profound without being opaque, and the new media language style and expression help to hold a great appeal to a large readership and are widely reprinted.
(2) Big Data and Use of Visual Resources
The arrival of the big data era requires the media to pay close attention to tapping, analysis and use of data resources. The data center of People’ Daily in the making aims at building on omni-media platform technology to pool information resources from all channels and form a resource database capable of storage, integration and backup. The databank shares data resources through standardizing data format among different departments and analyzes related data to provide vertical and in-depth information services. Based on integration and analysis with big data thinking and technology, it incubates information services for media, finance, culture, health and advertising. It is exploring a mechanism to combine data and visualization — reporting news with the help of charts, maps or interactive tools to visualize the story and make it concise, interesting and interactive, so as to better communicate with the audience.
Since the establishment of the “central kitchen style” omni-media platform, H5 interactive media products have become a hot item in its reporting. It is now recruiting design and technical staff to build its technology team. During the two sessions in 2015, the platform released 18 interesting and highly interactive H5 products by combining ingenious contents, big data analysis, and H5 technology. According to server statistics, less than 48 hours after the release of “Secret of Seats Arrangement for NPC Deputies,” access requests surpassed 20 million, and page views over 1.2 million. “Questions for the Premier” had over 7 million access requests and over 2 million page views. In addition, reports like “Decipher the Statistics in the Government Work Report,” “How Are CPPCC Members Recommended?” “My Question for Ministers,” and “Red Envelope from the Premier,” all had several million access requests and hundreds of thousands of page views.
During the Bo’ao Forum for Asia 2015, the illustrated news reports and H5 products released by the omni-media center of People’s Daily were concise and entertaining. “One Chart Tells You All about 2015 Bo’ao Forum for Asia” which highlights the theme, participants and other basics, for example, was reprinted by more than ten online media. “Seeking Fortune on the Silk Road” and “Xi Jinping’s Speech Essence at Bo’ao Forum” were read 26,000 and 25,500 times respectively. The interactive game “Guess Who’s Coming to Bo’ao” was largely transmitted on WeChat platform. In July 2015, “How Many Anti-Japanese Battlefields Do You Know?” released by the omni-media center was read over one million times.
Xinhua News Agency Explores How to Reshape the Work Flow
The Xinhua News Agency has embraced the internet spirit of “openness, innovation and cooperation,” making information transmission mobile, intelligent, personalized and data-driven to strengthen top-level and strategic design in new media development and commit itself to intensive, large-scale and standardized development of new media. It takes new media information transmission capability as an important booster in building an “online news agency.”
It is building more powerful communication platforms, and updating the Xinhua News Agency apps and websites. On June 8, 2015, the updated version of Xinhua News Agency app was put online, sending its news to millions of netizens. On the launch day, the highest number of hits on one single piece of news exceeded 7 million, with over 70 million page views. By the end of 2015, the total downloads of the Xinhua app had surpassed 100 million, ranking top among all mainstream media apps. On June 15, 2015, the new version of Xinhuanet.com was launched as the first news website to become omni-media and mobile, with daily page views on desktop exceeding 120 million and mobile terminal coverage of subscribers surpassing 130 million.
The Xinhua News Agency focuses on upgrading contents on new media, offering subscribers specific services with big-data, visual, graphic and mobile news products. It values cutting-edge technology such as big data, artificial intelligence, and virtual reality to promote their full integration with news production. On November 7, it launched its robot writing system with express robot writer Xiao Xin, responsible for writing flashes and briefings on sports, the economy, and information on securities, producing more than 100 items per day. Xinhuanet.com is the first outlet to introduce unmanned aerial vehicles for news reporting, which helps offer a unique birds-eye perspective in coverage of emergencies and other such events.
Its omni-media platform is designed to reshape the work flow. The platform was set up on December 31, 2014, and became operational on July 7, 2015. It is led by the Editorial Office of the Xinhua News Agency, and supported by the Domestic News Department, the International News Department, the Department of Home News for Overseas Service, News Photo Department, the Department of Audio-Visual News, Xinhuanet.com, the New Media Center and the Technology Department. The omni-media platform integrates resources and optimizes work flow to increase the Xinhua News Agency’s communication capacity, influence and credibility.
(1) Rolling Out a Series of Influential Reports on Both Traditional and New Media through Xinhua All-media
The omni-media platform integrates resources of Xinhua News Agency to produce Xinhua-style all-media headlines, making it both front page story on traditional media and adapted eye-catching news on new media.
Each omni-media headline report is composed of a leading manuscript and news products combining texts, pictures, video and other new media formats. They are further categorized and released on corresponding platforms. News reports can be texts, pictures, charts, videos, games, surveys, light apps and dynamic effect products. They are released on wire copy, new media, apps, WeChat and Weibo accounts, and highlighted on Xinhua Daily Telegraph and Xinhuanet.com. In this way, the key reports cover both traditional media and new media outlets, with quicker access ensured by QR codes.
Based on the omni-media platform, a so-called incubator, or testfield, produces over 300 pieces of Xinhua All-Media headlines all year round thanks to improved integration of resources. As a result, its news reports cover both traditional and new media outlets and carry wide influence. For example:
In terms of important political news, the exclusive report of Xinhua all-media platform on February 13 — “Back to Home: Xi’s Visit to County Fellows in Liangjiahe Village” represented a breakthrough in reporting a leadership inspection. The exclusive coverage and more than 20 on-site pictures became the sole source for all media reports. Within one day, its click rate surpassed 35 million on Tencent news platform alone.
In terms of emergencies, when an 8.1-magnitude earthquake hit Nepal on April 25, its omni-media platform immediately organized and sent reporters to the frontline. Its exclusive and original reports “Transfer in Zhangmu Town” and “Li Dong: Calm Commander in Earthquake” produced jointly with its Tibet branch and related departments through omni-media, were widely reprinted by traditional media and frequently posted by social media, effectively guiding public opinion at home and abroad.
On June 1, when the Eastern Star passenger ship capsized in the Yangtze River, Xinhua All-Media released a series of reports such as “Yangtze Rescue — A National Endeavor,” “Never Give Up — Report of the Yangtze Rescue,” special picture news and exclusive video clips of “Before the Shipwreck.” The press releases of these reports were reprinted by some 75 media, their click rates surpassed one million, and page views of one report alone were more than 10,000.
In terms of reports-based onoriginal research, from June 22 to 24, Xinhua All-Media platform released three sets of research reports on poverty relief. It sent nine groups to the poorest areas in nine provinces in the central and western regions. After release, one report alone was published by 106 media. All major news apps put these reports in headlines or on front pages, triggering hot public debate, and attracting generous public support for poverty relief work in the following 13th Five-Year Plan.
In terms of major reports on hot topics, after “Unified Standard for Pension: Postponed Retirement under Scrutiny” and other reports were released on January 26, the single report was the most published manuscript, reprinted by 355 media. Related news reports such as “Illustration of Impact of Postponed Retirement,” and “Foreign Experiences in Using Pension,” were acclaimed for their content-rich and interesting information.
In addition, cutting-edge technology is applied in news reports. For example, in reporting a landslide in Shenzhen on December 20, omni-media platform released a report by applying virtual reality technology — “Virtual Reality: On-spot Experience of Rescue at Night,” as the first domestic media to use this technology in reporting emergencies. This report gave the audience an immersive experience disticnt from traditional reports with text, pictures, or videos. It was also very well received on new media platforms.
At present, Xinhua All-Media is expanding its influence through its popularity with users and audience. In the eyes of experts and peers, it is providing diversified news information by maximizing all kinds of media outlets in an innovative move, which will surely improve Xinhua News Agency’s communication capacity, influence and credibility, in a comprehensive and effective way.
(2) Reshaping the Work Flow Compatible with a Modern News Agency to Promote Full Integration of All Elements, Resource Sharing and Media Connectivity
The omni-media platform has basically functioned as the test field or incubator for integrated development. It has launched the reporting model of “one plus N”: on the one hand, it uses the “central-kitchen style” platform to command coordination and cooperation from different departments. On the other, it constantly innovates concepts and means of omni-media report, to ensure news spreads on both traditional and new media outlets. The omni-media platform actively explores and practices this new approach to news reporting and has acquired some experience in innovation.
First, it transforms the work flow, trimming it into a process in which information is first gathered by multiple media, then processed by editors, and finally released on various platforms and apps. This platform now produces reports in the project work system and is organized according to the work flow. Once a theme is determined, this platform will further improves its contents and criteria and promptly forms project teams in line with the “menu,” such as those for the contents and for promotion. The news gathering, editing and release are done jointly by various departments under unified planning.
Second, it integrates editorial resources to explore cross-department and cross-branch cooperation. With the omni-media platform working by centering around the established proximal goal, i.e., with the omni-media platform as the “one” focus and the departments and branch offices concerned as “N” units, a cross-department, cross-field and cross-terminal business platform is built to integrate reporting resources more effectively and smoothly.
Third, it solidifies technology support, to guide and facilitate omni-media report and explore the work pattern applying technology well into editorial process.
CCTV Actively Promotes Integrated Development of Media
In 2015, CCTV took the decision to actively promote integrated development of media, and made substantial progress in all its endeavors. Embracing the development model of “TV plus new media,” it focusesd on content, applies advanced technology, carries out major projects, and boosts the integration of TV and new media in content, channel, platform, operations, and management. It has created an innovative structure for its staff.
(1) Strengthening Top-Level Design, Building an Innovative Structure, and Making Breakthroughs in Integrated Development
In 2015, CCTV set up a leading group for media integrated development responsible for overall design, coordinating the work of different departments, and supervising the implementation. Pooling the efforts of all staff will ensure the task is carried out in a systemic, consistent, and cooperative manner. The leading group is also responsible for studying and formulating mid- and long-term plans to prioritize goals, key products and programs for each phase. It seeks innovation in systems, production flow, channel building, management framework, operations, and personnel training.
In terms of operation, as the unified new media center of the station CCTV.com promotes its platform building by meeting the requirements of CCTV’s integration of operations. CCTV.com now has the most comprehensive new media platform, covering almost every terminal, such as desktop internet (CCTV.Com), mobile internet (CCTV.Com, CBOX, CCTVNEWS apps, communication platform in public space, 4G integrated broadcast control platform), broadband internet (IPTV, Internet TV) and social media platform (Weibo, WeChat, overseas social media accounts, etc.). Through open platforms built on CCTV.Com, and integration of excellent programs launched on both station and CCTV.Com, programs are tailored for broadcast on multiple platforms so as to create a unified platform of CCTV new media. Exclusive services should be provided to key channels and hot programs to upgrade them into omni-media program producers, breaking the barriers between TV and new media to connect two user groups, and bringing CCTV’s strength in program making and personnel to new media platforms.
CCTV.com and news center have set up a special working group to integrate news through a new organization structure and co-working. CCTV.com has a special team for its Children’s Channel and makes programs every week to feed the new media. The programs are accessible on both media outlets, sharing function and users, with unified management and program launch. CCTV-1 has set up a production team together with CCTV.com to build a people search platform with programs such as “Wait for Me.” Its 2016 Spring Festival Gala project team was composed of major program centers, the technology support department, CCTV.com and the advertising department. It designs all programs and ensures their release or broadcast on all platforms such as TV, internet and mobile phones.
(2) Maximizing the Demonstration Effect of Key Projects to Promote All Media Content Production
In 2015, CCTV highlighted the demonstration effect of key projects and chose the right breakthrough points in promoting the upgrade of content building — making the content products accessible on all media. Programs like the Spring Festival Gala (which used shake-shake audience interaction), the Chinese Riddle Quiz Game, the APEC meeting and the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the war against Japanese aggression serve as examples to promote all-media program production and communication, with satisfactory effect.
Since the launch of “APEC on Vguan” in 2014, the micro video of CCTVNEWS has become a name brand in the new media sector. It has clocked up more than 520 million exclusive page views. “G20 on Vguan,” and “Xi Jinping’s State Visit on Vguan” netted over 810 million page views.
In commemorating the 70th anniversary of war against Japanese aggression, CCTVNEWS selected and composed features to publicize the significance of the victory of this war, its status and its contribution to the world anti-fascist war. These reports were released separately on special dates as new media products — “In Honor of Heroes on Tomb-sweeping Day,” “Days of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression,” “Big Parade on Vguan,” “Double Screen Interaction of Big Parade.” The content included both special coverage and highlighted stories, complementing CCTV’s coverage on TV and new media outlets. “Big Parade on Vguan,” with over 98.23 million micro plays, won more than 200 million upticks. The parade on September 3 exceeded 4.65 billion page views, pushing the amount of users to over 735,000, and its live show on CCTV.com received more than 49 million impressions, a record high in its new media live broadcast history.
The 2015 Spring Festival Gala introduced the WeChat “shake shake game” during its live show to deliver program lists, distribute New Year greetings by Stars, and send red envelopes, producing 11 billion interactions by mobile phone users. By the end of the Gala, 41.9 million family photos had been uploaded and the maximum rate of “shakes” had reached 810 million per minute, a sign of the popularity of the Spring Festival Gala worldwide. CCTVNEWS new media platform held a panoramic live show featuring interactive games, real time Q&A, big-data analysis and barrage comments, each realizing user volume growth of millions on New Year’s Eve, a record high in interaction.
During the second World Internet Conference, CCTVNEWS introduced innovative tools such as panorama camera, aerial drones and GoPro motion cameras to take pictures and film, and transmit videos by 4G. This equipment helped it release exclusive reports on its new media platforms, and interpret President Xi Jinping’s speech as early as possible. It released 187 reports on domestic and overseas social media and apps, attracting 40.85 million visits from independent users, covering 55.63 million users, and receiving 526,000 thumbs-ups, comments and reposts. They were watched more than 1.5 million times.
(3) Working Out New Pattern of Media Integrated Development while Playing a Leading Role of Its Flagship Products
While playing a leading role in apps such as CBOX and CCTV.com, CCTV developed new media products based on CCTVNEWS, CCTV-2 (finance), CCTV-3 (variety show), CCTV-5 (sports) and CCTV-15 (music), exploiting the strengths of each channel and its key programs.
In 2015, the new media platform of CCTVNEWS expanded its platform, upgraded its products, reorganized its structure and optimized its work flow. CCTV app is responsible for releasing micro video, and WeChat is responsible for posting original reports, while Weibo focuses on updating news. It has also opened accounts on “Miaopai” (Sina video app on Weibo) and “Toutiao” (headline news) apps. By December 25, CCTVNEWS had 220 million users on all platforms, with CCTVNEW app users exceeding 30 million in November 2015.
CCTV-9 (English news) integrates its communication resources both at home and abroad to promote multi-media integration while enhancing its brand. CCTVNEWS has 21 official accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Google+, Wechat and Weibo. Other platforms such as YouTube, apps, Apple TV also serve to make China’s voice heard around the globe. By the end of December 2015, CCTVNEWS accounts had more than 21.7 million active followers around the globe, with over 20.05 million from more than 200 countries and regions. Many of these are Western main-stream media personnel, experts, scholars, government employees and CEOs. The overseas exposure rates surpasses 8 billion, visits of independent users from abroad is 4.4 billion and click rates are more than 337 million. According to a sample survey by Nielsen in Greater New York in March 2015, followers of CCTVNEWS accounts on social media in this area equaled to its satellite and cable TV subscribers, making it an important channel for overseas audience to know and understand China.
Motivated by the effect of flagship products, all channels are actively embarking on operating and innovating on the new media platforms such as Weibo, WeChat and apps. By the third quarter of 2015, CCTV had set up all together 184 WeChat accounts, receiving 20.64 million hits; 323 Weibo accounts (on Sina Weibo alone) with over 171 million followers; and 37 apps with 186 million downloads. The users of its Weibo, WeChat and apps exceed 278 million.