Unlimited Freedom in Taiwan

By YingTing Tseng (YXT5059)

In Taiwan, the role of media has been dramatically changed in recent decades; the value of journalistic professionalism is also being questioned by the society.

(Are you short sighted?) Yes...

(Are you short sighted?) Yes…

In 2005, Mark Magnier published an article, They Can’t Handle the Truth, in the Los Angeles Times: “Part of the Taiwanese media’s character reflects its evolution, what some refer to as the transition from lapdog to mad dog. Until 1988, major newspapers and TV stations served as government mouthpieces controlled by the ruling Nationalist Party, which had maintained an iron grip for decades.  Less government control has led to privatization, but several important stations are still owned by political parties. In a polarized society where politics is a blood sport — fistfights in the legislature were not uncommon up until a few years ago — media objectivity is spotty at best”.  Magnier used the term “from lapdog to mad dog” to describe the environment of Taiwanese media.  As a Taiwanese, I accept all the advices from Magnier; unfortunately, eight years later, some Taiwanese now call journalists 記者 “prostitute” 妓者, because this profession lost all the respect and credibility from the public already.

Since 2012, a Hong-Kong based Next Media Ltd. announced its decision to sell its Taiwan print and television operations to a number of Taiwanese corporations.  This news provokes a huge conflict due to one potential buyer, Tsai Eng-Meng 蔡衍明 who owns multiple businesses in China and has been advocating closely with China.  It is because of the threat of media monopoly, ever since the year of 2012, a series of non-stop protest events continues to bring more attention to the society.  This March, the founder of Next Media Ltd., Jimmy Lai, decided to stop the sale.  Although this result is what most of us expect, media scholars and related associations still keep an eye on the further regulation and lawmaking process.

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In Magnier’s article, “We have a poor democracy and a poor medium (in Taiwan),” said Chen Hao, senior vice president of CTI Television.  However, to me, we are immature because we are still young; in other words, we have a young democracy and a young medium.  This is why we need some encouragement and improvement in order to move forward, and also we need more time.

References:

Lam, Oiwan. “Taiwan is Sick: Student Protesters Tell the Minister of Education · Global Voices.” Global Voices · Citizen media stories from around the world. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 Apr. 2013. <http://globalvoicesonline.org/2012/12/10/taiwan-is-sick-student-protesters-tell-the-minister-of-education/>.

Magnier, Mark. “They Can’t Handle the Truth.” Los Angeles times 28 Feb. 2005: n. pag. Los Angeles Times. Web. 4 Apr. 2013.

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2 thoughts on “Unlimited Freedom in Taiwan

  1. I agree with your statement about Taiwan having a “young democracy and a young medium” due to the fact that they are overshadowed by their neighbors. Time and media maturity will certainly take its course in Taiwan, but you have to look at how the media has changed over time to predict how it will look in the future. In any country, it is imporant for the people to have faith in their various media outlets (television, print, radio, etc) in order for the people to flourish intectually and garner their own personal beliefs without the government having to be a mouthpiece for them. Improvements are neccesary in the Taiwanese media to bring back crucial credibility and trust within the people–because journalistic unrest affects a country in many ways.
    It is crucial for Taiwan to avoid a media monopoly–as this would only skew the way people get their information (government/business controlled). The jounalistic environment will change in time, as poltical parties relinquish their grip on the media. But as you stated, Taiwan is virtually in its infancy in both their democracy and medium–so continued encouragement and improvement will certainly aid in helping gain back trust within a currently fragmented system.

  2. I found this post very interesting. Mainly because of the transformation in Taiwanese media from mainly government controlled to private. That’s a huge step in the progress of a young country. It’s unfortunate to see that journalists have lost the respect of the Taiwanese public. According to Reporters Without Borders, Taiwan tops the list of Asian countries in terms of press freedom. To top that list of all countries in Asia for a relatively young country is a pretty terrific accomplishment. However, Taiwanese media outlets are also known for sensationalism, which is part of the reason that the public has lost respect for journalists. I think you make a great point about Taiwan being “immature.” I agree that Taiwan is still in its infancy and needs more time for its media systems to mature.

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