Cho Seung-hui, the culprit behind the killing spree at Virginia Tech on April 16, video-taped a statement about the massacre at the university and mailed it to the television network NBC midway through his shooting rampage. When the parcel unexpectedly arrived at NBC, it was a morbid temptation for the station's management.
For the next 12 hours, the station was torn between viewer ratings and journalistic ethics. Finally, after an intense seven-hour closed-door debate, NBC management decided to inform the FBI and Virginia State Police and hand over the DVD and the associated material to law enforcement officers, keeping copies and continuing their analysis to confirm its authenticity.
Not until after the police announced in the afternoon that NBC had received the parcel from Cho and agreed to NBC airing it did the network air the footage that evening after carefully editing out offensive and sensational footage.
Despite this cautious handling, because this was the worst campus shooting incident in US history and it touched on the sensitive topic of ethnic conflict, it was not surprising to see NBC overwhelmed by a wave of sharp criticism from academic circles and society as a whole for broadcasting Cho's video.
What was unexpected, however, was that this media controversy -- which is being so hotly debated in the US -- has been used by TVBS to quell criticism of its mishandling of the gangster footage scandal. TVBS, when reporting news about the Virginia Tech shootings, has stressed that in the pursuit of the truth even internationally known NBC chose to broadcast the highly controversial footage.
When commenting on NBC's coverage, Taiwan's Satellite Television Broadcasting Association (STBA), a media watchdog which has hardly ever dealt with media discipline since its establishment, actually said that NBC's broadcast of Cho's images was as terrible as the gangster footage filmed and directed by TVBS reporters, and that since each country follows different criteria for media control, the association is now at a loss as to what to do.
I can not agree with this rationale.
The NBC and TVBS incidents are totally different in nature. It was not NBC that filmed Cho's video footage. Instead, it was Cho himself who sent the video he shot to NBC. TVBS' gangster footage was shot by the station's own reporters who then lied to the police saying they had received the video from the gangster.
In short, TVBS claim that it received the parcel from the gangster was not true, and that's why police are still investigating who actually instigated the video in the first place. Compared with NBC's handling of Cho's video, TVBS' handling of the gangster video is not a comparable circumstance.
The TVBS video footage has tarnished the image of Taiwan's TV stations and damaged public trust in the media. At this juncture, do we really need the illogical pairing of these events?
The nation's media should learn from NBC's cautious handling of the Cho footage before it decided to broadcast it and from the way other US media outlets showed self restraint and self discipline after NBC's airing caused severe criticism. We viewers should learn from the civic awareness displayed by Americans who refused to watch these violent images and the parents of victims and the school staff who protested by refusing to perform previously agreed-upon interviews.
Lilian Wang is an associate professor at National Chengchi University's journalism department.
Translated by Daniel Cheng
On Sept. 27, 2002, the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste (East Timor) joined the UN to become its 191st member. Since then, two other nations have joined, Montenegro on June 28, 2006, and South Sudan on July 14, 2011. The combined total of the populations of these three nations is just more than half that of Taiwan’s 23.7 million people. East Timor has 1.3 million, Montenegro has slightly more than half a million and South Sudan has 10.9 million. They all are members of the UN, yet much more populous Taiwan is denied membership. Of the three, East Timor, as a Southeast Asian
Chinese strongman Xi Jinping (習近平) hasn’t had a very good spring, either economically or politically. Not that long ago, he seemed to be riding high. The PRC economy had been on a long winning streak of more than six percent annual growth, catapulting the world’s most populous nation into the second-largest power, behind only the United States. Hundreds of millions had been brought out of poverty. Beijing’s military too had emerged as the most powerful in Asia, lagging only behind the US, the long-time leader on the global stage. One can attribute much of the recent downturn to the international economic
Taiwan has for decades singlehandedly borne the brunt of a revanchist, ultra-nationalist China — until now. Ever since Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison had the temerity to call for a transparent, international investigation into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, Beijing has been turning the screws on Canberra. This has included unleashing aggressive “wolf warrior” diplomats to intimidate Australian policymakers, enacting punitive tariffs on its exports, and threatening an embargo on Chinese tourists and students to the nation. A tense situation became more serious on June 19 after Morrison revealed that a “sophisticated state-based actor” — read: China — had launched a
Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴) is to be Taiwan’s next representative to the US. Hsiao is well versed in international affairs and Taiwan-US relations. In her days as a student in the US, she was a member of the Formosan Association for Public Affairs (FAPA) and served as chief executive of the Democratic Progressive Party’s US mission. She is familiar with a broad spectrum of Taiwanese affairs in the US. FAPA hopes that Hsiao, after taking up her new post, would continue to deepen and normalize relations between Taiwan and the US, and that she would try to get a free-trade agreement