Wed, Oct 25, 2006 - Page 8 News List

Turning a blind eye to global news

By Philip Yang 楊永明

International news has all but disappeared from the local broadcast media. Recent major East Asian events, including Thailand's military coup, the inauguration of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the summits between Japan and China and Japan and South Korea and North Korea's claim to have successfully tested a nuclear device, were largely ignored by the local TV stations.

This is not a recent problem, but rather a unique problem that has long plagued Taiwan. Despite the country's ongoing democratization and localization, it has failed to pay attention to the forces of globalization and international developments.

This has resulted in public indifference to international news and an unwillingness to face up to international competition, resulting in Taiwan's marginalization in the global and East-Asian communities. The importance of staying informed about international news is not limited to understanding world affairs; rather, it is about Taiwan's involvement in the international community, national development, educational level and personal benefit.

I therefore call on TV stations to broadcast more international news and the public not to switch channels during global news reports.

First of all, TV stations should report and analyze international news based on importance and proportional coverage. Most stations are reluctant to cover international news because it can have a negative effect on viewer ratings.

Current international news coverage is indeed a challenge to news stations given prevailing viewing habits. As a result, TV stations have steered clear of setting up independent international news programs. Instead, international news telegrams are read in 15-second soundbites interspersed with domestic news reports. This "fast-food" reporting style fosters indifference to, and an inability to understand, international news, and leads to Taiwan being out of touch with international affairs and a narrow-minded public.

I hope TV station officials will be able to provide more professional international news reports and analyses. Professionalism is not limited to technique and knowledge, but also includes judgment and persistence. Each TV news station should have editors and translators in their international news sections, with the ability to write sound news reports and analyses. TV station officials should give them the opportunity and help widen the public's know-ledge. Advertisers and the government should also encourage TV stations to produce in-depth international news coverage. We do not want propaganda-oriented placement marketing, but rather an investment in Taiwan's future.

On the part of the viewers, they should not skip or switch off TV channels that offer international news coverage. Parents, in particular, should let their children watch international news and help them develop a global perspective and world vision.

Judging from Taiwan's industrial structure and international connections, we should be quite an internationalized society. Maintaining a tight grip on international dynamics is where Taiwan's future lies. Future generations will face even more intense international competition and exchanges, and an understanding of global and regional issues is essential.

Common sense and knowledge through contact and education is vital to understanding international politics, economies, culture and societies. International news is not limited to issues like global military and political affairs or gossip. Rather, local TV stations should run more international reports on world issues, people and culture.

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