From Reader to Practitioner, Tencent COO Shares Views on Media

Tencent hosted the 2017 Tencent Media Summit in Shanghai on November 16. With “media’s new planet” as its theme, Tencent and a dozen of the world’s leading and innovative media met to discuss the global media revolution.

“Six months ago, I was a reader of media. But over the last six months, I was basically a media practitioner. So I am in a position to share some views on the changes of current media from these two perspectives,” said Mark Ren, COO of Tencent, in his opening remarks.

As he was speaking, three AI products – Tencent’s WeChat “Zhi Ling” voice recognition technology, Tencent’s Translator tool and Dreamwriter, a robotic writer in service for several years – worked together and did a great job of translating and reporting the remarks for guests and online audiences in real time.

The following is the transcript of Ren’s opening remarks:

Good afternoon, friends in the media.

This is my first time participating in the media summit. Today, I am here as a learner. Over the last year, my role has changed. Six months ago, I was a reader of media. But over the last six months, I was basically a media practitioner. So I am in a position to share some views on changes in the current media from these two perspectives.

First, as a reader, I find media platforms have changed a lot. In the past, I browsed news portals, then turned to news apps on my smartphone. Today, I get my news from completely different resources. When I open a browser, I can see abundant news feeds; when I check some celebrities’ on Weibo, I can keep abreast of current events; when I use WeChat, the latest and hottest news is available. Today, we no longer need to look for news on media platforms. Instead, we can access the content anywhere. News feeds come from more channels than before. I used to read sports news, so I recognized the writers of some sports articles, especially the writers covering soccer. But today, since everyone can create content and be the media, news feeds are as likely to be populated by well-known journalists as unfamiliar WeChat authors and average people. A picture someone uploads to the Internet can cause a sensation. Generally speaking, profound changes have taken place in the source of media information, a phenomenon that enriches news content and erodes people’s trust. Many reports appear to come from alternate dimensions and sometimes are in stark contrast with each other. Consequently, I cannot help but wonder if I can find trustworthy reporting among all this information. In the past half year, I’ve observed the changes in the media industry not only as a reader but also as a practitioner. I’ve also been thinking about what media practitioners, platforms and content creators should do accordingly.

We put our ideas into practice. In terms of content, we prioritize its value. The concept of Tencent’s news differs enormously from what we had before, but we still emphasize the importance of real events. As a result, Tencent carefully examines the origin of any story, often checking multiple sources to ensure the content is real and improve readers’ confidence in us. Second, we do not publish vulgar content just to attract traffic. Third, we encourage different opinions. Tencent news is inclusive in that we try to present not only our own opinions, but also those from other media, writers or even readers. In this case, we hope to cover news in a multi-dimensional perspective to provoke thought and reveal truth. Content from other sources is placed along with our original content and selected according to the same criteria.

In terms of platform, we, as a media platform, should think more of providing better services for content creators via technology. For instance, WeChat official accounts have am advantage: the writer can interact and communicate with readers below in real time. Real-time communication is conducive to improving readers’ experience and writers’ future work.

Not long ago, on the Tencent Global Partner Conference, we announced an upgrade to Penguin media and a 30-billion-yuan plan to support content creation. We will use our technology to push the content from Penguin media to all Tencent’s platforms.

In terms of technology, we are considering using more cutting-edge technology to serve the media industry. Many content distribution platforms are recommending content. We do too, but our recommendations are not intended to replace the professional work of the media. Rather, we aim to improve reading experience by combining technology with the media’s professionalism. We are also trying new technology, such as AI writing. When I saw the latest version of chess AI, I realized AI has capabilities beyond our imagination. In the future, AI will be able to create art and compose works in the media industry. Perhaps one day technology will present us a whole new viewpoint.

This is the sixth year of our media summit. We have upgraded it to adapt to the era of media change. We are very honored to have leading media practitioners and innovators from China and abroad here with us, and we hope they will contribute their viewpoints to our media blueprint and lead us in the transition. Thank you!

This article originally appeared in Tencent Technology and was translated by Pandaily.