TAIWAN: Technology a boost to monitoring the media

The ease of digital recording and the rapid growth in Internet access have made it easier to keep track of what officials and journalists say

Taipei Times
Tuesday, December 9, 2003

By Cody Yiu
Technology breakthroughs are changing the nature of news reporting as well as enabling public supervision of the media, said a group of social, technological and cultural experts yesterday at a seminar in Taipei on the impact of the Special Report VCDs.

"From the Internet to BBS, to broadband access, to digital media, technology is rapidly changing to better suit the needs of the people, resulting in a media revolution," said Lin Yi-fang, the chief executive officer of Taiwan Voice.

"To put it bluntly, news anchors are no longer needed to report stories as long as there are news tickers running across the TV screen" Lin said.

Digital technology offers the public a simple media-monitoring tool.

"Current online technology enables anyone with broadband Internet access to digitally record TV news or current affairs talk shows and to catch the many slips of the tongue that occur. That's exactly what the production team for Special Report did," Lin said.

Lin said he didn't think much of the VCDs, but saw them as a true narrative of the thoughts of the Taiwanese people.

"I don't think the Special Report [VDCs] are such a big deal or contribute that much to society. However, they do present the bare thoughts of the people without any additional packaging," Lin said.

Online circulation of clips of TV recordings is a revolutionary way to monitor the media.

"In the wake of the Pachang Creek incident in 2000, a Web site,KO-Media [www.socialforce.org], was established to keep the speeches made by public figures in check by posting recorded clips online," said Lu Shih-hsiang, chief executive officer of the Foundation for the Advancement of Media Excellence.

"Today, this Web site is very popular among media professionals," Lu said.

Many people at the seminar hosted by Taiwan Northern Society believe the Special Report VCDs signified a technological and social breakthrough for the media industry.

"It used to be that a political point of view needed a medium as a source of circulation. Normally, such a medium requires a large capital investment to be established," said Liu Chin-hsin, an engineering professor at National Taiwan University of Science and Technology.

"Today, however, people can take full advantage of technology to voice their opinion without investing too much money," Liu said.

Seminar participants said there is a need for the public to monitor the media because of the lack of media ethics.

"The New York Times has a weekly column dedicated to making corrections of its reporting errors -- this is an example of responsible journalism. Although the Apple Daily is criticized by some groups for its contents, it is the only newspaper in Taiwan which makes an effort to make corrections everyday," Lu said.

"Taiwan's media does not treat fact-checking seriously. The US press refers to responsible journalism as reporting the truth and checking facts. Clearly this ideology has no parallel in the Taiwanese press," Liu said.