Lights, camera, ACTION!
Without those, Taiwan President-elect Ma Ying-jeou just isn’t the same, say my reporter colleagues. Last week at an arts/culture awards event, Mr Ma was the guest of honor and awards presenter. Naturally, the press was there, not to cover the awards event, but to ask Mr Ma about the USD 29.8 mn foreign affairs scandal going on. On his way out, reporters shouted behind the cordoned area, “President Ma, should President Chen step down and take responsibility for the foreign affairs scandal?”
He smiled, waved his hand and murmured, “I can’t hear what you guys are saying,” and kept walking. Dumb question, but his reply, to the reporters, was even dumber. Some argue that there very little “real reporting” going on in the mainstream media in Taiwan. Whether or not the story is newsworthy, it gets done. Whether or not Mr Ma has anything to do or has a comment about a previous administration’s problems, the story gets done. So when he just kept walking and basically brushed reporters off, it really put them in a bad mood. One of the reporters from TVBS, fuming, said, “we should all just not show up at his appearances for three days in a row the next time he does that. No, better yet, we’ll only have FTV, Sanli and Liberty Times show up, without their cameramen, of course.” (FTV, Sanli and Liberty Times are traditionally pro-independence leaning and Mr Ma is on the other side.)
The reason the TVBS reporter said that is because Mr Ma really isn’t the same without cameramen and photographers present. When Mr Ma was still Taipei City Mayor, I went hiking with him once, on assignment, of course. In between filming, I chatted with the city government cameraman, who documents the mayor on his outings. He said, “you know, he really needs the press. He just lights up when flashes start going off and film starts rolling. He’s a totally different person when the media is present. When he’s among just people, he doesn’t have that glow and energy.”
Interesting, huh? The line between politics and show biz, especially in Taiwan, is getting blurrier and blurrier.