Fri, May 20, 2011 - Page 8 News List

The media made Teacher Wang

By Huang Chun-ju 黃俊儒

Politicians would sell their right arm to be able to get the sort of exposure his earthquake prediction did. What exactly did Teacher Wang do, apart from posting his prediction on a blog? Did he call a press conference? Did he splash out for advertising space? Did he force people to hoard food supplies and buy storage containers in readiness for the earthquake? If nobody had paid him any mind, would there even be any such thing as Teacher Wang today? The whole thing has been manufactured by the press.

News media have given this man the spotlight only to pelt him with eggs and sticks. In the process the media have succeeded in creating a story from which they emerge as being on the side of “justice” and “science.” It goes without saying that this has not exactly harmed their viewing figures, either. However, throughout the whole sorry affair, a great deal of resources have been wasted on illuminating what is basically a big non-story. Who hasn’t felt obliged to come out and talk about this case, to set the record straight? Members of the Cabinet, the Ministry of the Interior, the CWB, the National Science Council and the Ministry of National Defense have all offered their two cents on the issue. It’s not like there aren’t more pressing things going on in the country to which their talents would be better turned.

As far as the whole Teacher Wang spectacle is concerned, the media’s rather sanctimonious attempts at watching over society have, frankly speaking, degenerated into a circus in which everyone has been complicit. Some people might just shrug the whole thing off, arguing that Taiwanese society is quite rational, and saw it all as an interesting diversion, a bit of excitement. But look at how many resources have been frittered away on this circus. That rather light-hearted take on events now starts to look a little naive.

If society is happy to be complacent after all that has been spent on this Teacher Wang business, then we still have an awfully long way to go before we are able to deal, in any rational way, with all the problems the technological age is bound to throw at us.

Huang Chun-ju is an associate professor at National Chung Cheng University’s General Education Center.

TRANSLATED BY PAUL COOPER

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