Writer's Block

The USA is the place I was born. Canada is the place I was raised. Taiwan is the place in my heart.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Yes, I’ve oft complained that the media in Taiwan, particularly television, has a tendency to sensationalize and scandalize the news by focusing on negative reporting, shocking, tragic stories, and crimes committed. So how is this any different from news reporting elsewhere you ask?

In Taiwan, it's not really an exaggeration to say that people are bombarded by the television news practically 24 hours a day. This is in large part due to the way that national television networks organize their programming.

The three major national television networks in Taiwan separate their programming into two categories (and therefore two separate channels): news programs and entertainment programs. Each major television network effectively runs two parallel channels.

As a result, there are three “news only” channels (representing each of the three major networks). The programming on these “news only” channels consists of hourly news reports and daily/nightly political talk shows.

Each station also runs “entertainment only” channels; the programming on “entertainment only” channels include soap opera dramas, cooking/food shows, variety shows and made for television movies.

Because of this separation in programming, every hour, on the hour, there is an hour long news report run on the news only channel. We're not just talking about an announcement of late breaking news at the top the hour, but a full blown hour long report on local news. And how much news could there be to report on here in Taiwan- an island that is merely 35,563 square kilometers in size?

Basically the television news that is reported each hour becomes very repetitious, cycling and recycling through every hour with only slight superficial changes; a different news anchor every few hours, a change of voice, a change of attire, but basically the content is the same. This cycle lasts for about 12 hours from 7am to 8pm daily. So any major news story quickly gets blown out of proportion, over reported, round the clock three times over, sending viewers into overload. I’ve noticed that many people complain about the quality of the television news here and consequently, don’t actually watch it much.

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