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Media need to diversify global coverage: audience

Taiwan is known for its society that is open-minded and diversified. But these good qualities are sorely lacking when it comes to the public's intake of global news.

In fact, a bulk of the international news in Taiwan is culled from the so-called mainstream media, such as U.S. cable channel CNN and Japan's NHK TV, while news from other sources is lacking, such as from Al Jazeera, a Qatar-based news network.

“I think it's critical to have diversified sources and viewpoints,” Chen Hsiao-yi, president of the Association of Taiwan Journalists, told CNA in an interview.

While the local media rarely reports news events in Europe, much less Africa or the Middle East, and usually favors those in the United States and Japan, the extent of Taiwan's global news coverage remains unsatisfactory to local residents, she said.

“News channels should report international news in each of their news sections, or arrange for an exclusive broadcasting section for international news,” Chen suggested.

Lin Fu-yueh, director of public affairs at Taiwan Media Watch, said the quantity of global news coverage in Taiwan was quite miniscule, and that TV channels often broadcast such news during the lean period, rather than prime time.

In his opinion, Lin said, global news should amount to at least five to eight minutes during each news bulletin of 40 to 50 minutes, while newspapers should devote two to three pages to global news, he said.

Another problem is that the current global news in Taiwan usually focuses only on entertainment and interesting episodes, unless there are big accidents or disasters in other countries, Lin said.

Wu Sing-yue, 32, a career diplomat, termed Taiwan's global news coverage as “insufficient” and “lacking in diversity,” as the media reported too many unimportant local news and repeatedly broadcast entertainment news.

Lin Cian-yu, a 23-year-old graduate student at the National Chengchi University, suggested that local newspapers should print a global news outline on a daily basis, instead of on a weekly basis to make the most of a printed page's limited layout.

Scott Lin, senior vice president of Taiwanese computer maker Acer Inc. and its president of Greater China operations, said his company prefers news on consumption demand and trends in other countries, as it is targeting global markets.

“We need more in-depth information for reference,” the Acer executive said.

Rock Hsu, chairman of the Chinese National Federation of Industries in Taiwan, urged Taiwan's TV channels to increase their emphasis on financial news because it affects market positioning and strategy for export-centric Taiwanese firms.

What also matters is news about technology applications and product innovation, which will impact local companies' product roadmap in the long term, said Hsu, who is also chairman of Compal Electronics Inc., the world's No. 2 contract laptop PC maker.

Hsu also noted that information about the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is lacking. ASEAN already accounts for roughly 16 percent of Taiwan's exports, ranked as the second-largest market behind the 40 percent export share of China and Hong Kong.

In other words, maybe the criticism leveled by two-time Oscar-winning Taiwanese director Ang Lee that TV operators in Taiwan have a tendency to report trivial rather than big global events is correct.

“It's really ridiculous,” he said of Taiwan media outlets' news programs during a televised discussion recently, urging TV operators to live up to their expectations and report more major international news.

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A viewer flicks through international news stations broadcasting in Taiwan on Saturday, June 15. The bulk of the international news in Taiwan is culled from the so-called mainstream media, such as U.S. cable channel CNN, while other sources are severely lacking. (CNA)

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