I don’t know when Taiwan’s TV news reporters started having to put themselves in danger to stimulate ratings. The danger is designed to keep viewers on the edge of their seats.
Such reporting should not exist in a civilized country. Take flood news for example. We see reporters standing in waist-deep water while delivering live news.
Sometimes they squat in the water to exaggerate the depth. During landslide coverage, we see reporters walking into danger zones to show the horror of such disasters.
When Super Typhoon Jangmi hit Taiwan, we once again saw TV stations sending female reporters to seashores, riversides, open ground or dangerous hills.
They could hardly stand upright and were exposed to dangerously strong winds, turbulent waves, floods and mudslides. When a natural disaster occurs, the government warns the public to stay away from disaster areas to avoid injury.
To inform the public of the scope and damage of a disaster, reporters risk injury reporting at the scene. But they take the risk because they have no choice. It is unethical for them to risk their lives or even make false reports in order to boost ratings.
If reporting at the scene is the only way to cover a disaster, shouldn’t reporters also drink toxic milk until they get kidney stones in order to show the negative effect of melamine to viewers?
By risking the lives of reporters, TV stations may be breaking laws concerning manslaughter and injury through negligence, stated in Articles 15, 276 and 284 of the Criminal Code (刑法). Article 8 of the Labor Standards Law (勞動基準法) stipulates that “an employer shall take precautions for his employees against occupational hazards and set up proper work environments and welfare facilities.
“All safety, health, and welfare matters related thereto shall be governed by the provisions of applicable laws,” it says.
Why don’t the authorities prevent this from happening and why don’t the local journalists’ associations stage a protest?
Are the Taiwanese people really so cruel as to take TV news reporters as easy targets?
In October 2004, Taiwan Television (TTV) cameraman Alex Ping (平宗正), 31, drowned while reporting the launch of a flood-diversion tunnel as Typhoon Nock-Ten hit Taiwan.
The incident served as a warning. How can TV stations overlook the safety of their reporters?
Kuo Cheng-deng is chairman of the Healthy Taiwan Society.
Translated by Eddy Chang
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