Monday, February 24, 2014

Foreign Policy Blog Fail

New SRAM shifters and new bar tape, lovely old views. Nothing like 80 kms and 1100 meters of climbing to cure what ails.

Foreign Policy blog today offers a wonderful explanation of what is wrong with Taiwan's media. Oh, not by explaining, but by an outstanding display of all the faults of Taiwan's media in the article itself. Really as wonderful a case of irony-free writing as can be imagined. To wit, the blog explains some of the problems with the media:
Strong political beliefs among Taiwanese, Hong said, have emboldened media outlets to reveal their own political character, thus cleaving the country's media landscape into two halves, leading to highly biased reporting of almost any political or economic issue by media outlets sympathetic to one or the other political cause.
Prior to informing us about the Blue-Green split in the media, the blog cites several papers on the media in Taiwan. Let's see what they are...
In a Jan. 6 editorial in China Times, a Taiwanese daily newspaper,

Andy Hong, a reporter for Taiwanese newspaper Want Daily and a journalist in Taiwan for 20 years,

Joe Wei, managing editor of the World Journal, a U.S. and Canada-based Chinese-language newspaper owned by Taiwan's United Daily News,
The blog cites local Taiwan papers without ever informing the reader that they all report for the pro-China, pro-KMT side in Taiwan's politics and then goes on to piously inform us that the media has a political cleavage. I had to put my irony meters in strong lead-lined boxes to prevent them from exploding over this.

Quick, think of some media controversies in the last few years. Anyone remember that the government is a huge advertizer? (here) How about the controversy over control of public television? I'm sure you do. This report has a bad case of amnesia regarding the government-media relationship in Taiwan.

But it gets worse. One of the biggest problems with the local media is Chinese influence on it. This influence has been extensively, exhaustively discussed in the local and international media (see this AP report, for example). Yet it is entirely missing in this piece. How could this writer have missed it? Because... O the irony! The writer actually cites Want Daily, the newspaper run by possibly the most pro-China businessman in Taiwan, one that is enthusiastically pro-China, and which is often instanced by people pointing to the influence of China on Taiwan's media (recall the WantWant media monster? It set off protests in Taipei). After I read that I quickly moved my irony meters to my neighbor's house, so they would be out of detection range.

But it gets worse. Here's what the article said. Everything was peachy-keen until...
....But Hong [deputy director of Want Daily's cross-strait news division] claimed things changed around 2003, when Hong Kong-based Apple Daily, a web site and broadsheet with a tabloid flair known for publishing color photos of grisly crime scenes and scantily-clad women, entered Taiwan and "immediately attracted readers."
I had to send my irony meters to Samoa after reading that one. Because, readers will recall, the WantWant media monster was created by its desire to purchase media organs that Apple Daily was not permitted to purchase. Moreover, Apple Daily, whatever one may think of its tabloid antics, was generally seen by the public as the one paper not beholden to either political side. Moreover moreover, Jimmy Lai, the owner of Apple Daily, is a critic of Beijing whom Beijing does not much like. The writer thus offers us a paper dissing its competitor, a pro-China paper dissing a critic of the regime, and a pro-Blue paper dissing a neutral paper, all without context, and without telling us anything about how Apple Daily is currently received by the public, perhaps because then they would have to explain that all their previous sources had come from one side of the political divide.

In the final-but-one paragraph, the writer observes:
To be sure, Taiwanese investigative journalists do occasionally break real stories.
Does anyone know how I can get my irony meters off-planet?

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Michael Turton said...

Corrected version, originally I misidentified AFP as the source of the story.


TaiwanJunkie said...

There's almost a nostalgic longing for simpler times back in the days of singularity in news by these pan-blue journalists. In fact, this was best expressed when they talked admiringly about the People's Daily.

There's no question Taiwan's media sucks big time. But these guys make it sound like this is the fault of a press that is "too free" instead of a press that simply lacks basic professionalism.