Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Taiwan Media Forum

A "Taiwan Media Forum" was hosted at UCLA recently. For those of us longtime foreign media watchers, you'll get a kick out of this:

Los Angeles --- Students and journalists participated in a discussion about U.S. media relations with Taiwan at a panel last Friday that featured former CNN Beijing Bureau Chief Mike Chinoy and University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) communications studies professor Tom Plate.

The two veteran journalists spoke on a panel, hosted by Plate's newly formed UCLA Media Center, about Taiwanese development, the nature of its media and the ways in which the U.S. media covers Taiwanese issues.

"Taiwanese media is less censored now. They have shaken off the shackles of authoritarianism. It's a remarkably free place compared to the rest of Asia," Chinoy said.

Both speakers agreed that Taiwanese reporters are young, bold and tackle controversial and sensitive issues; Plate described Taiwanese journalists as "highly-competitive, commercial and 'tabloidy.'"

Taiwanese news outlets are often partisan, unlike major U.S. media outlets such as The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, which take a more balanced view, Plate said.

There's much here that is quite comical (citing the NYT and WSJ as example of "balance?") but this one really had me ROFLMAO. Here's the media forum on Taiwan repeating the basic error of all foreign media commenting on Taiwan: they go to the Beijing bureau chief. Here's a revolutionary thought -- brace yourself -- why not invite someone from Taiwan to comment on the Taiwan media and the foreign media?

No, that would be too earthshaking.

UPDATE: Maddog has the complete write up here atTaiwan Matters.

8 comments:

Portnoy said...

Ha, that is so true...a forum about Taiwan media without Taiwanese participating...

Anonymous said...

Boy, do you have a big chip on your shoulder.

Mike Chinoy is one of the best, certainly most experienced Western journalists in Asia today. He's worked in east Asia for 20 years. He's CNN's "Senior Asia Correspondent", and was also bureau chief in Hong Kong (before/after the hand-over) for many years.

There's no one staffed in the media backwater that is Taiwan that comes close to matching Mike's credibility on east Asia.

And compared to the Taipei Times, the NYT and WSJ are shining examples of objective journalism.

Michael Turton said...

I'm sure Chinoy is a very experienced correspondent. But the issue here is not whether he is experienced, but what he knows about the foreign media and Taiwan, and whether he is an appropriate choice when there are so many locals who know so much more.

The other problem with Chinoy is that he, like so many, has carelessly absorbed and repeats stock Chinese claims, as Jerome Keating has nicely put it:

Another clear example of lazy journalism is the one-sided phrases used in reporting on cross-strait issues. Who has not heard newscasters like CNN's Mike Chinoy and others prattling on about China? When Taiwan is mentioned, the stock phrase appears: "Taiwan, which China considers a renegade province." Fair game, for that is what China considers Taiwan. Unfortunately, these journalists never say what Taiwan thinks of China.

Wouldn't it be fair to respond in the same vein every time these journalists speak of the PRC? They could add a similar stock phrase such as, "the People's Republic of China, which Taiwan considers a grasping, corrupt totalitarian state ruled by control freaks with a warped sense of history."


In one way Chinoy is an excellent choice, because he illustrates the ambiguities of foreign media coverage. But in another way he is a terrible one, since both he and Plate were unable to spot those ambiugities and use them to comment meaningfully on the foreign media and Taiwan. Thus, the forum looks, at least from this angle, a lot like a failure.

And I don't have a chip on my shoulder. I haven't attacked you; so don't attack me.

Michael

Michael Turton said...

BTW anon, the keating article was actually online at Asia Media

http://www.asiamedia.ucla.edu/article.asp?parentid=50998

All they had to do was comb their archives.

Michael

Michael Turton said...

And compared to the Taipei Times, the NYT and WSJ are shining examples of objective journalism.

They're about the same IMHO. Remember when the NYTimes saved the Bush presidency by burying his constitutionally sick spying program? Let's not even talk about WSJ......

Michael

Anonymous said...

>>why not invite someone from Taiwan to comment on the Taiwan media and the foreign media?

Residency is by no means a qualification, but it should not escape your attention that Mr. Chinoy lives in Taiwan.

Michael Turton said...

Really? Perhaps I should refine my conditions then.

Tim Maddog said...

An anonymous commenter wrote:
- - -
Mike Chinoy is one of the best... There's no one staffed in the media backwater that is Taiwan that comes close to matching Mike's credibility on east Asia.
- - -

Maybe that was Chinoy himself commenting. ;-)

If not, could the commenter possibly be referring to the same Mike Chinoy who can't seem to pronounce the name of any city or town more than a few kilometers south of Taipei? As far as "cred" goes, what is that based on -- the number of times his face has been on TV? How's this for "credibility"?

Another anonymous commenter (or perhaps the same one) had this to say:
- - -
Residency is by no means a qualification, but it should not escape your attention that Mr. Chinoy lives in Taiwan
- - -

How do you know he lives here? If I were to make an educated guess, I'd say that he probably lives in Hong Kong and eats TVB memos for breakfast. It should not escape the commenter's attention that there's a huge difference between merely "living here" (backpacker?) and either living here long-term/permanently (married to a local, perhaps raising kids) or being born here. Michael Turton is certainly correct that someone from Taiwan would likely provide better perspective than Chinoy could if he lived here for 20 years.

As our knowledgeable blogger intimated:
- - -
No, that would be too earthshaking.
- - -

Yeeeeaaah, boyeee!

Tim Maddog