When it comes to media, you get what you deserve
The China Post news staffIt's easy to decry the current state of the news industry, and to long for the good old days when media outlets cared more about freedom of speech and democracy, and reporters wished for the truth, and nothing else.
January 9, 2013, 12:09 am TWN
The only problem, according to U.S. radio host Brooke Gladstone, is “the good ol' days were never as good as we like to believe.” In her recent book, “The Influencing Machine: Brooke Gladstone on the Media,” which retraces the media industry from ancient times to the present, she clearly argues that the U.S. media have always been imperfect because “they're only giving us what we demand.”
In a convincing and easily digestible argument, she urges media consumers to reject any type of bias and invites news outlets to better train their reporters to the various forms of partiality that can creep into their writing.
Back in Taiwan, it's equally easy to look at local media these days and fear that they are worse than they've ever been. The problem is that we only get the media we deserve, too.
Contrary to all expectations, a biased, slanted and lying media has long been a part of our culture. But most people are more than willing to accept or denounce such bias according to their political stance — and the party in power.
The most recent example of this happened less than a week ago. An estimated 1,000 university students from the Youth Alliance against Media Monsters (YAMM, 反媒體巨獸青年聯盟) spent their New Year's Eve at Liberty Square to protest what they considered to be Want Want China Times' monopolization of Taiwan media.
Want Want's purchases of China Network Systems (CNS) and Next Media have triggered a heated debate. Many members of opposition parties, university professors and students argue the acquisition could lead to media monopolization, thereby endangering press freedom. In the words of Nat Bellocchi (白樂崎), a former chairman of the American Institute in Taiwan, “this takeover would be alright if Tsai was a pro-democracy media magnate who respected the freedom of the press and journalistic and editorial independence.”