Wednesday, 9 May 2007

Media ethics in question once again

(Photo retrieved from Internet)

Taiwan's media ethics have been called to question once again. Following TVBS News' fabricated video of an gunman displaying weapons and threatening to kill his mob boss in March, and another TVBS story where a reporter failed to fact check a report that ducks that were said to be plucked using tar last December, today Sanli TV was accused of using video from a gruesome and violent Shanghai execution when in fact, the story Sanli TV was presenting was about the 28 February 1947 massacre in Taiwan.

(Photo retrieved from Internet)

Here's the full story in Chinese from UDN:
影片移花接木 三立228報導造假

(Photo retrieved from Internet)

And here is the response from the editor-in-chief of Sanli TV, also from UDN:
陳雅琳:母帶內容 三立未造假

(Photo retrieved from Internet)

Chen Yaling, the editor-in-chief of Sanli TV and also the host of the show called into question, responded in a press conference by saying she did not intend to mislead the audience, and said that the foundation whom they acquired the footage from did not tell them that the footage was not of the 228 massacre. She issued no apology.

Whether this is a case of footage misuse or failure to check facts remains a point of contention, but the quality of news reporting in Taiwan has certainly been called to question once again. Personally, I think this is just one of the manifestations of poor ethics and control in the industry here, and I'm not surprised that it's surfaced. The lack of ethics and quality that is generally prevalent in TV news here in Taiwan is really quite serious.

For an even more pessimistic point of view, please read a trusted colleague's blog here:

And to add a twist to all of this, seven KMT council members staged a protest at Sanli TV's headquarters after Chen Yaling denied any wrongdoing. They demanded that Sanli TV and Chen Yaling admit to false reporting and to apologize to the public for causing unnecessary strife among the Massacre victims' families and creating tension among society. However, some may think they had two alter motives - to draw attention to themselves and to draw attention away from the extent of the KMT's wrongdoings in the Massacre. I did a live coverage of the protest. And perhaps it looked like a highly charged stand-off on TV, but seemed more like a rehearsed show (like it always does) from where I was standing.

(Photo taken with my mobile phone)

Politicians from all sides are accused of abusing power to get media attention, and on my fourth night on the shift, the general sentiment was that it was the KMT's turn.

It's been a long day, but a mentally fruitful one. I worked on two stories in the afternoon, one in the evening, had a confidence-boosting screen test after that and spent two and a half hours on my feet in the cold outside of Sanli TV headquarters covering the protest. I'm just glad I was well prepared in my yellow and grey Mountain Hardwear jacket, platform heels and cute little backpack.

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