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A Taiwanese woman's journal of her pursuit of an MBA, a meaningful life, love and her observations of the world along the way! Blogger based in Taipei.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Can some reporters be inaner?

While the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairman Ma Ying-Jeou is enjoying his high-profile trip slash interview prior to the 2008 Taiwan Presidential Election, many TV stations in Taiwan also sent their correspondents or news crew to tag along. However, as I sat and watched the news on various cable TVs day by day, the news quality in Taiwan makes me wonder: Can the news programs be more sensational and lack of sense than they are now? Regrettably, I think some of the news crew may well enjoy a promising career in producing the Taiwan version of American idols, if they decide not to follow the political beat.

Those who have seen Ma Ying-Jeou's interview on BBC must be impressed, to an extent, by Sakur's savvy professionalism in combination with a thorough understanding of the interviewee's background. Although the ban on media in Taiwan has been lifted for a long time, I've never seen any Taiwanese reporter who dares to challenge a politician in such a probing yet honorable way. Not to DPP leaders (well, to them the media mostly use bitter sarcasm and metaphor) and most certainly not to the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairman Ma Ying-Jeou, as KMT traditionally controls most of the capital in TV stations. While behaving unsophisticated is one thing, acting completely stupid is really way over the limit a TV audience can bear. This phenomenon peaked when I saw (on ETTV or CTITV) a group of Taiwan reporters surrounding Ma Ying-Jeou and San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom in their meeting. Not only did the news clips look more like a fan club event than a talk between mayors, a reporter even concluded the news by asking Newsome the following question: "Do you think Ma Ying-Jeou is handsome?"

Geez, do you think that's what the audience in Taiwan want to know? If ETTV or CTITV would send someone all the way to the US just to ask such a stupid question, I think they might as well save that money to buy more clips from the wire agency.

12 Comments:

Blogger Michael Turton said...

Damn! I've been interviewed by reporters a couple of times. They didn't treat me any better.

Scary......

9:58 PM, March 27, 2006  
Blogger mike said...

"Do you think Ma Ying-Jeou is handsome?"
An improper question is supposed to be asked by young and female admirer of his. However, according to the radio comments this morning (3/28), the voice of the guy asked the question was recognized as the top correspondent in DC of China Times. I could not understand he could be 60 - 65 years old and uttered words like this in public. It is a record in the history of journalism.

8:28 AM, March 28, 2006  
Blogger Kanwa-Kyudai said...

Jen-san,

I watch news programs censored by the Communist Party every day here in China. Everyone in those news is an eloquent speaker and says plausible things, which usually do not have much substance, with a straight face. Japan also has a lot of stupid reporters just like yours, but they might be a bit better than those in the communist country in a sense.

8:50 PM, March 28, 2006  
Blogger Jen said...

Kanwa-San,

You mentioned censorship of TV programs in China and that's very interesting. I accidentally spotted an article on Business Week this morning about how CCP controls people's mind and the article contains some very interesting measures that the CCP employs and statistics. I will try to find that article again to share with you. ;-)

Gotta get off work now. I'm working too much.

Cheers - Jen 9:20 pm

9:29 PM, March 28, 2006  
Blogger Jen said...

Michael,

Sometimes you need to create some photo opportunities for the press, for instance, considering to expose your thigh and insist to jog in shorts although it's zero Celsius degree outside. Plus, send out invitations of your work-out schedule so that interested reporters can tag along.

Haha, just kidding... Hope you won't mind this little joke.

Jen

5:57 PM, March 29, 2006  
Blogger Jen said...

Kanwa-san,

As promised, here's the link to the Business Week article on "How China controls the Internet". I saw some more stats yesterday but it didn't show in this article. Will find out those stats to share, as it is interesting to see in a nut shell how much effort and money CCP has spent to keep the power of information in its hand.

Jen

6:42 PM, March 29, 2006  
Blogger Kanwa-Kyudai said...

Jen-san,

Thank you veru much for your kindness. I have just read the article and the "The Great Firewall of China" link in it. I am afraid that the censorship of the Internet in China is gathering more momentum than I expected. Time is not on our side.

I hear that some leading IT companies in the West are cooperating with the CCP to develop The Great Firewall. I wonder why the US government does not regulate the high-tech drain to China. Ironically, Mr.Bush always demand China's democratization.

Just for your information, I need to use a proxy server to visit your site from China. Moreover, I was shocked when I found that even the Wikipedia was blocked here. Finding competent proxy servers is one of my important tasks to carry out.

9:05 PM, March 29, 2006  
Blogger Jen said...

Kanwa-San,

I think one the reader's comment on "The Great Firewall of China" really hit home.

JohnB said, "Review: There is something just very unpleasant about this. The West - "We believe in the fundamental principle of freedom and justice for all." China - "Here's lots of money" The West - "That will do nicely sir." So there is a price now on morality - a price that says "we will close our eyes and ignore what we believe in if you show us a big wallet". So how far does this go? If the principle of "freedom of speech" can be avoided at a price, what about a few more freedoms? A quick invasion maybe, the odd bit of genocide perhaps? Is this where globalisation is getting us - anyone can do anythng if they have enough money to pay for Western silence?

As a prospective applicant to the world's top MBA schools, I care much about topics like this as it involves business ethics and code of conduct. It appears to me that multinationals have learned to employ a double standard when it comes to the hot money in China. I don't want to sound cynical, but doesn't it look like everything has a price even for universial values such as freedom of speech?

4:10 PM, March 31, 2006  
Anonymous Michael C said...

Thanks for changing the blog setting. I hope you don’t get any more crap from anonymous people.

I thank god everyday for remote control because it allows me to go from channel 46, Japanese shows on my system, straight to channel 65 HBO, skipping all the insanity that is on the news channels of the 50’s.

For a country of this size, Taiwan seems to have a very large number of news media, especially TV. The competition is surely intense, but instead of weeding out the weak via selective process, it brings everyone down to the lowest common denominator. If they are feeding the market demand, does it mean that people in Taiwan prefer sensationalism to consistent coherent logic and hard probing journalism?

The mass media reporters and reportees have a symbiotic relationship that goes hand-in- hand with Taiwanese notions of leaving a person some face. My wife works for a cosmetic company. When they have a press conference for a new product launch, they always prepare a gift bag for the reporters. Some company will even take them to an oversea press junket. In return, you rarely see any reviews that criticize any product. Same goes for political news, if you are an aspiring journalist who ask probing intelligent questions, you will not get invitation to conference or receive tip off for exclusives. However,if you can make a hollow mannequin looks like a responsible in-charge mayor, then you will treated as a part of the in-crowd. Poor ethic, but it's how things work.

12:15 AM, April 01, 2006  
Blogger Vincent said...

We already knew that most of Taiwan's news reporters are poor-educated. They don't have the ability of thinking. That's why Ma enjoys the media so much. Everyone should turn off TV and go hiking.

9:59 AM, April 01, 2006  
Anonymous Echo said...

There was this example that I will never forget in my whole life.

The wedding of President Chen's daughter was a huge news in Taiwan. The day after the wedding, a group of reporters gathered in front of the newly wed house, trying to capture the first glance of them after the wedding. (Man! that does 100% looks like a fan club).

Then Chen's daughter came out. Reporters tightened their circle toward her. The first question she was asked:

"Did you have the happiness last night?"
(請問你昨天晚上『幸福』嗎?)

HUH? What the fxxxxck is a quesiton like that ? I couldn't believe what I heard. It made me sick and almost throw up.

I think the reporters in Taiwan are not only unsophisticated and stupid, but also "sick". Very seriously sick.

3:21 AM, April 03, 2006  
Blogger Jen said...

Michael C. said, "I thank god everyday for remote control because it allows me to go from channel 46, Japanese shows on my system, straight to channel 65 HBO."

You bet! That's pretty much what I do when I watch TV in Taiwan, just jumping around between channel 5, channel 65 ~ 71.

"If they are feeding the market demand, does it mean that people in Taiwan prefer sensationalism to consistent coherent logic and hard probing journalism?

Michael, you and I and I believe many other TV viewers are sane people so I doubt that people in Taiwan really prefer sensationalism than professional journalism. I can't deny that some may disagree with our taste, as they probably find news programs in Taiwan more exciting than soap operas. Meanwhile, I think the watchdog has not done their part of ensuring the TV audience's rights of quality news programs.

My wife works for a cosmetic company. When they have a press conference for a new product launch, they always prepare a gift bag for the reporters. Some company will even take them to an oversea press junket. In return, you rarely see any reviews that criticize any product. ... Poor ethic, but it's how things work."

Tell you what, I used to work in PR so I lived through what you've described above. That's why since I stepped into PR, I realized that many things appeared in the news are not "real" news; instead the messages have been designed, carefully crafted and projected in a way so that they look like news. Scary, but true.

3:42 PM, April 08, 2006  

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