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Change is the only guarantee from selling of Next Media

What's next after Next? That's the question probably many of us have asked and tried to answer after news came that Hong Kong media mogul Jimmy Lai had struck a deal to sell all of his Next Media operations in Taiwan.

Next will definitely continue to be a major force in the local media industry. But will it be the same?

The introduction of the tabloid-style Apple Daily into Taiwan about a decade ago and then the Next weekly magazine revolutionized the local media. In a good or bad way? It really depends on how you look at it. It has injected vitality into the market, but at the same time greatly increased the presence of tabloid journalism in the local media.

Taiwan was not without its own tabloid publications before Next arrived, but Lai managed to make tabloid mainstream. The huge success of Apple Daily and Next Magazine sent almost every other media establishment in Taiwan — both print and electronic ones — scrambling to follow the Lai style.

Did Lai change the value of Taiwan's society and its people, or did he just hit the right button and release what had already been there — a kind of perverse curiosity and voyeuristic desire? Sociologists may have to answer that question for us.

But what we have been seeing is the love-hate attitude that the general public and media have for Lai's tabloid publications.

People condemn their sensationalism, paparazzi methods, sex, gossips; yet the publications have been number one in terms of circulation. Media personnel criticize their digging up of celebrities' secrets; yet have remained keen to find out the latest Apple Daily and Next Magazine revelation, always with an eye to having their own follow-up stories. They don't see their follow-ups as an intrusion into others' privacy, because they are just picking up what Apple Daily and Next have disclosed.

Is this hypocrisy? We'll let you decide.

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