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China Focus: Online media seeks further upgrade in face of evolving tech, COVID-19 impact

Abstract : Livestreaming, real-time app push notifications, video meetings… Under the impact of COVID-19, both media outlets and technology developers have gained a deeper awareness of the new ways that people acquire and exchange information.

SHANGHAI, Sept. 28 (Xinhua) — Livestreaming, real-time app push notifications, video meetings… Under the impact of COVID-19, both media outlets and technology developers have gained a deeper awareness of the new ways that people acquire and exchange information.

At a forum that concluded Monday, leading media providers and tech firms in China underlined the importance of further cooperating with each other to cope with changes taking place in the two industries.

Experts and representatives from the industries and the government shared their insights on media-tech integration during the two-day 2020 China Internet Media Forum held in Shanghai.

TECH PLUS MEDIA

During the COVID-19 pandemic, media outlets in China have acted rapidly to provide information to users, offering access to real-time COVID-19 dashboards, sending health tips via mobile phones, and sharing stories of those fighting COVID-19 on the frontline via livestreaming and short-video apps.

Using new technologies, online media platforms fought the virus in their own way, helping with the scientific and targeted nature of the COVID-19 response, said Baidu CEO Robin Li at the forum.

Baidu and other internet companies have forecast a trend of deeper integration between the media and newer technologies.

Artificial intelligence (AI) and 5G will further reshape relations between audiences, media and information, said Tencent CEO Pony Ma in a pre-recorded speech.

By developing information infrastructure for 5G, AI, big data, and cloud computing, China has provided a sound environment for the internet media industry, said Liu Liehong, vice minister of Industry and Information Technology. He noted that China now has over 500,000 5G base stations, with 130 million terminals connected to 5G networks.

New technologies will help media collect, transmit and process information, and diversify their methods to convey messages, Liu said.

NEW BUSINESS MODELS

When people were stuck at home during the epidemic this year, more time was spent online.

Tencent launched online visiting services for Dunhuang Mogao Grottoes, a renowned UNESCO World Heritage Site in northwest China’s Gansu Province, attracting nearly 20 million visits within half a year, eight times the number of visits to the tourist site last year.

Online retailing has also embraced new changes alongside the evolution of technologies.

According to a report released by the China Internet Network Information Center in April, the number of livestreaming users in China had hit 560 million as of March 2020, accounting for more than 60 percent of Chinese netizens. The number of e-commerce livestreaming users hit 265 million, higher than the numbers of game streaming, sports-related livestreaming, or live concert viewers.

Xiaohongshu, an Instagram-like Chinese fashion and lifestyle sharing platform with about 120 million monthly active users, has developed a new business model through live broadcasting.

“Livestreaming on our platform allowed many physical stores to gain access to customers online during the epidemic,” said Miranda Qu, co-founder of Xiaohongshu.

During a shopping festival held in Shanghai in May and June to stimulate spending, Xiaohongshu launched a livestreaming campaign to help stores in Shanghai showcase their products online. As a result, the customer traffic of shops in TX Huaihai, a shopping mall in central Shanghai, increased 400 percent on average.

Over 10 million livestreaming shopping events were held during the first half of 2020, with more than 400,000 influencers taking part, according to data released by China’s Ministry of Commerce.

SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY

Yet alongside the increasing popularity of internet media came new worrying signs.

Baidu’s Robin Li has warned of the risks of relying too much on technologies such as recommendation algorithms, which might lead users into “a narrower world” of information.

Algorithms should learn users’ higher-class demands, rather than simply following people’s likes, he said.

After the COVID-19 outbreak, Chinese tech firm Sina adjusted its algorithms to ensure more reliable and useful epidemic-related information could reach its users.

People are eager to hear reliable information from the authorities when facing public emergencies, said Sina’s Wang Wei, stressing that those managing algorithms must practice social responsibility.

A healthy internet should be an ecosystem that combines the aspirations of netizens, the concerns of the government, the responsibilities of platforms, as well as societal participation, said Pony Ma.

“If media platforms seek only profits and use all means to attract views, they will never go far,” said Zheng Yongnian, a scholar with the Chinese University of Hong Kong (Shenzhen). Enditem

About Xinhua Silk Road

Xinhua Silk Road (en.imsilkroad.com) is the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) portal. China’s silk road economic belt and the 21st century maritime silk road website, include BRI Policy, BRI Trade, BRI Investment, Belt and Road weekly, Know Belt and Road, and the integrated information services for the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

Source: China Focus: Online media seeks further upgrade in face of evolving tech, COVID-19 impact

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