News happens every day everywhere, from continents to regions, from states to people, which has proximity to our everyday life. As the era evolves, news has combined with the developed technology, transform itself from the old printed newspaper to the convenience online newspaper, which alters the way people engage with it through media convergence. The following will explain the topic in several aspects.
To commence with, with the developed technology, information nowadays can be accessed easily. In other words, news can be uploaded at once without the restrictions of areas, resources and time. Take the recent hot epidemic, COVID-19, as an example, confirmed diagnosis numbers can be immediately updated in government health or news websites (Australian Department of Health 3 May 2020). Information of regional epidemic can be shown on maps by colours on the media. People can get informed at any time. This successfully arouses public health concerns, which generates a trend of washing hands and wearing masks. Unlike in the past, epidemics such as smallpox (Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, National Centre for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases (NCEZID), Division of High-Consequence Pathogens and Pathology (DHCPP) August 30, 2016) and the black death (A&E Television Networks, 17 September, 2010) , technology was not developed. Infected numbers could not be updated real-time and news could be only delivered through printed newspapers. Publishing newspapers was very time-consuming in the past as the process was so complicated. It took lots of time to collect data, be repeatedly edited by sub-editors and editors, enter contents by typewriter and finally print it out. Thus, printing technology was not completely developed at that time. Since news could not be delivered quickly, people could not be aware of the epidemic timely, they didn’t adopt the corresponding public health measures promptly. 75 million people were killed by black death worldwide due to the low level of hygiene awareness (Wikipedia). And now, although COVID-19 infects over 3.4 million people (Taiwan News 3 May 2020) and caused 240,000 deaths(CAN News, 3 May, 2020), the public has already practised anti-virus measures in the early times. Quarantines, self-isolations, social distancing are implemented. Even it is a worldwide epidemic, the infected numbers and deaths were much less than smallpox and the black death. This clearly draws the point that news has become the channel that people can receive current affairs timely.
Not only news has become an informative channel, but it has also become the cohesion of our society. Through technological convergence, news can be visualised through elements such as text, images, audio and videos. Unlike the old newspapers, news nowadays includes these elements and can be visualised, which can be more easily comprehended in-depth. Therefore, when there’s a social threat, people can have more communication and get closer to fight against the threat after news reports. For instance, in 2017, the Blue Whale Suicide Game was very hot, and many teenagers suicided under the instigation by those ‘administrators’ worldwide while over 130 Russian teenagers died from it (Wikipedia). Through the news texts, people can know that the game duration is 50 days, participants must finish tasks arranged by the administrators, such as waking up at 4:20 am, carving a blue whale image on arms (Gemma Mullin, 2 Nov 2019), listening to the designated horror music and finally ending up their lives (Ant Adeane, 13 Jan). Through news photos, people could know how horror the game is and be aware of this social threat. Through news videos and audios, people can understand how horror music and films affect teenagers’ growth (Tareq Aronnyo 22 Feb 2018) and corresponding solutions. After news released, close communications were carried out among many different stakeholders such as schools, parents, social workers and teenagers. For instance, schools regularly held anti-suicide and emotional management talks, parents spent more time to stay with their offsprings, social workers and relevant organisations held activities and got more in touch with teenagers. At the same time, the “Pink Whale Challenge” was born in Brazil and came as an anti-suicide solution against the “Blue Whale Challenge”, which encouraged people to play games and exercise more with their friends and families (New Delhi, August 2 2017). As a result, news has successfully become the cohesion of our society through media convergence. Pick another example to illustrate the point clearer. In 2019, the Anti-ELAB protest was held in Hong Kong due to the corruption of the Hong Kong Government (Young Post of South china Morning Post, 9 Aug 2019). Every day there were protests and protesters strolling around the streets. The police misused their brutality by throwing tear gases and arresting people randomly. The local news media and organizations such as Apple Daily, TheStandNews， South China Morning Post and Hong Kong Free Press, delivered news timely through mobility such as doing live news reporting and uploading the record on social media like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube. People from everywhere around the world could know what happens at once and they could do something to help with the matter. The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) Conflict is a case to explain the point, it occurred on 11th November, the police rushed into the campus and used unreasonable violence towards the innocent students by shooting rubber bullets, driving specialised crowd management vehicles and use the dyed water gun to hit the students(Kris Cheng & Holmes Chan 12 Nov 2019). Once the audience knew happened, they could take actions to help: the local people drove their cars out and tried to pick up the students; some people even transported supplies such as masks, towels, asthma medicine, gauze and alcohol, by cars to the university (Lo Ting Ting & Dai Ming, 13 Nov 2019); the non-local people forwarded the news to let more and more people know about what’s happening in Hong Kong. Finally, the police retreated on 15th November, and the conflict ended. Hong Kong Police Force was critically blamed by international academia and lawyers for attacking and invading the university. Since then, Hong Kong people were much more united and the foreign forces such as the International Court of Justice has closer cooperation with the local political parties (The Epoch Times, 23 Nov 2019). This obviously shows that news has become the cohesion of our society through technological and textual convergence nowadays.
More than above, news is also the motivation of growing the culture. When there’s a trend, attractive and catchy words and phrases will be shown in news headlines so that people can easily remember them. This encourages more and more people to join in the trend and imitate it. Derivative works are hence created. In 2012, Psy’s Gangnam style blew a viral hit wave all over the globe, the official video has 3.5 billion views on YouTube and has been one of the most viewed videos for years. People started to imitate the horse-riding dance and create music with the familiar melody and beat. In 2013, Ylvis released his new song, ‘What does the fox say”, while Da Zhang Wei’s ‘Bei Er Shuang’ was released in 2016. In the following years, there are also familiar examples, such as The Chordettes’s “Mr Sandman” Challenge (2015), Pinkfong’s ‘Baby Shark’(2016), Vicetone’s “Astronomia” (The Coffin Dance) (2020) and Pikotaro’s “PPAP’ (2016). These songs have won popularity among the audience. Many news organizations from around the world, such as Apple Daily (Hong Kong)( Apple Daily 10 Oct 2016), SETN (Taiwan)(Chow Wing Sun 11 Nov 2016), BBC (The UK)( Heather Chen, 27 Sep 2016) and CBC (Canada)(Ken Moritsugu 28 Oct 2016), reported them. People make videos by copying dance beats or try to perform music in funny ways: the American famous pet key opinion leader (KOL), Maple Cat, made a video about a cat doing the baby shark dance (Maple Cat 14 Feb 2019); the Indonesia hot pet KOL, Mew_Pawmily took the “Mr Sandman challenge” and uploaded a video about ways to take the challenge (Mew_Pawmily 22 Sep 2019); Lord Vinheteiro, the popular Brazilian musician, performed Astronomia by various different instruments such as rubber chicken, piano, flute, MIDI keyboard and drum (Vinheteiro 25 April 2020). From this case, we can see a point that through media convergence, news can motivate people’s creativity and hence grow the culture.
Apart from being the motivation of growing culture, news is also becoming propulsion of developing technology with the benefits brought by media convergence. Whenever a new technology pops out, it contributes to form a piece of news, which can draw much attention from the public. Novelty content about the new technology attracts the readers to buy it, which means news can also act as an advertisement. Hence, more and more people buy products and generate a greater economy. Take Samsung Galaxy Note 10/ Note 10+ as an example, Samsung held its press conference in August 2019 and explained what’s new and why their new products are the lead. At that time, the products nailed the best-selling rank in many countries such as Taiwan, South Korea, Japan and China. This invisibly raises up the competitiveness in the industry field, which push the other rivals, such as Apple and Sony, to release products with more developed and convenient technology. Once Note 10+ came out, iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max were released, they came with a higher waterproof depth grade (4m (Apple):1.5m (Samsung)). We can see news can push human technology forwards through industrial convergence from this example. To illustrate the point clearer, let’s take a glance at Apple’s iPad, which was released in 2010. This reinvigorated the tablet market. Tablet devices were widespread after the news released. Since then, Samsung ran its Galaxy Series tablets in the same year while HP released its new HP Slate500, which could run Window 7 on it (Wikipedia). More developed and the latest version of tablets such as Xperia Tablet Z and iPad Pro were released in the following years. Once there is a new technological product, the news arouses the public attention, and this also impels other companies to strive for a more developed technology in order to beat down their competitors and to earn more interests. And this indirectly pushes the development of human technology forwards. There is no doubt that news acts as the main propulsion of evolving technology through industrial convergence.
Undoubtedly, through media convergence, news transformed its old form — printed newspaper, to a modern form with text, images, videos and high mobility. It has significantly altered the way people engage with it. But some people may see flaws in this statement. They stated that there are too many sources of news nowadays as the information is too easy to access. Fake news is everywhere as every news media and organisation wants to draw attention from the people and hence earn more money. People may not trust the news as its credibility is not high enough. Therefore, the news cannot affect people much, which means its influence is small through media convergence. However, this argument is not fully correct. In other words, it is one-sided. Fake news is everywhere, it may not be trustworthy enough to bring an impact on people. But this provokes people’s critical thinking, which has significantly changed the way people engage with it, from trust blindly to trust wisely. We are living in an informative environment now with the mobility of the Internet. Therefore, people used to think twice before they trust the news media and organisation. From this, we can see that news has significantly altered the way people engage with it through media convergence.
All in all, media convergence gives benefits to news such as high mobility, vivid content and convenience. These make news more easily a part of people’s everyday life. People can watch and read the news anywhere at any time, unlike in the past, they need to go downstairs and buy inky newspapers to know the old news. With no doubt, media convergence has altered the way people engage with news.