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Taiwan: Media Riot

There have been many complaints about mainstream media practice in Taiwan. Some feel that it hampers Taiwan from developing into a matured democratic society. Recently the whole island's news reports have covered nothing but the rallies either opposing or supporting Taiwan's President Chen Shui-Bian. Many Taiwanese bloggers are furious at what they see as the performance of Taiwanese mainstream media.

Senior reporter and blogger Guan-yu asks big media to care more about the natural environment. She says:

前陣子還會被那些偏激言論弄得心浮氣躁、甚至怒氣沖沖,後來突然想通了:「許多偏激言論的背後目的,就在煽動所有人的怒氣,當人失去平靜,就很容易失去理性。但為了保護我所愛的故鄉和土地,平心靜氣就是面對動盪最好的盾牌。」電視新聞為了提升瞬間收視率,以二元對立手法操作、不斷放大某些偏激的言論和少數的衝突,確實某種程度撕裂著台灣,這部份是令人擔憂的,但關掉電視回到人民生活現場,我對未來時局還是比較樂觀,因為各角落都還是有人在默默奉獻、支撐著社會…

Earlier on, I was so frustrated and even angry because of those exteme opinions, but then I suddenly realized that “most extreme opinions have a hidden agenda to abet everyone's anger. When people lose their control, it is more easy for them to lose their rationality. But in order to protect my beloved native homeland, keeping calm is the best shield against the unrest.” In order to raise their temporary viewing rates, T.V. news manipulates antagonism to magnify extreme opinions and a handful of conflicts; to a certain degree they are tearing Taiwan apart. It worries me. But once I turn off the TV and return to the land of the living, I feel very optimistic about our future because around every corner there are still people who dedicate themselves to society…

Another senior reporter Chui Yung from Hong Kong quotes an article written by a Taiwan T.V. program producer, Lio Shi-feng, to back up his previous comments that Taiwan's media put their political stands before facts and emotions before objectivity.

兩位參選人的知名度,藉著街頭衝突一夕打開。雖然我們一再告誡記者和編輯注意措辭不要激化對立,但是在新聞台激烈的競爭下,我們被迫跟著政客的劇本走。

The two (city congress) candidates gained publicity through streetfight incidents. Though we cautioned our journalists and editors not to stir up antagonism, under the fierce competition between news channels, we were forced to follow politicians’ scripts.

PipperL does a “news filtering” test on a news report in China Times and finds out that 74.51% of news comes from unidentified sources (zh).

Dreamf asks: Who are the mob? (zh) He is not happy seeing people worshipping some kind of hero in either rally, nor is he satisfied watching heroic portraits of political celebrities in the media. “The real heroes are these nameless people ,” he says.

Lavendersea designs a Taoist magic figure to express her anger toward mainstream media.

Annpo writes down her wishes: “Don't be controlled by media. Voice yourselves!

在藍綠的意識形態鬥爭中,現在能在背後狂笑的就是媒體了(雖然媒體記者加班加到很想哭)。台灣目前最大的危機,並不是總統府裡的那位先生,也不是凱達格蘭大道的紅衣民眾,或是那個每天都要愛肝的施先生,而是,24小時不休息的新聞台跟平面媒體。還有忙著趕通告上電視說嘴的那些人。雖然新聞學中老說媒體要中立,我們也知道媒體不可能中立,但不能連裝裝中立都那麼無能吧?!

In the ideological war between “blue” and “green”, laughing in the background is the media (though the reporters are crying because of over time work). The major crisis is not the Mister in the Presidential Palace, not the people in red gathering in Ketagalan Boulevard , not Mister Shih Ming-teh with liver problem, but the 24-hour non-stop news channel and print media, and a bunch of TV talk show guys. Though our journalism classes say that media should be neutral, we all know that is impossible. But they even failed to pretend?!

But she does not fully support the “Don't Watch T.V. campaign”, because:

「矇上眼睛,就以為看不見」,只是自欺欺人。被影響的、被綁架的人,仍然是無力反抗、過濾新聞訊息的人。正是因為我可以不被影響,我們才該監督、才該批判…當然,選擇冷漠也是一種,就是不要搞對立的仇恨。

“Cover our eyes and pretend that we can't see” is just cheating ourselves. Those who are influenced and kidnapped (by TV news) are powerless to fight and filter the news messages. Now that I can keep myself from being influenced, we should take up the task of monitoring and criticizing … Of course, choosing to be detached is also a way…just don't provoke antagonistic hatred.

Benla Kung, a college teacher of journalism, analyzes that the real reason for all news channels keep staying in Ketagalan Boulevard is because of low cost:

只要2、3台SNG車,讓分佈凱道不同角落的記者四處觀察各樣的偶發事件,再加上一群有話想說的民眾,以及主動尋找舞台的政客,記者無須用力採訪,自然會有不少新聞議題與人物自動湧現,填滿不斷重播的新聞時段…這種廉價與膚淺的資訊,再次透過新聞頻道強暴我們的視野。

You need only 2 or 3 SNG vehicles and send out reporters to different corners to observe the scene, because people want to be heard and politicians are actively searching for a soapbox. The reporters don't need any efforts finding materials; there will be many issues and characters filling up the ever-rep eating news section… this kind of cheap and shallow information once again assaults our vision through news channels.

2 comments

  • Blogging off…

    A little late in the day. But here is the full text of an article I wrote for the BBC’s Focus on Africa magazine about the (alledged but denied) great Ethiopian blog blockage. It was written just before the Blogspot……

  • Great post!

    Michael

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