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Tue, Jun 15, 2004 - Page 23 News List

Opening a window on Taiwan

In the past five years, the 'Taipei Times' has helped bring Taiwan into the international community

By Lee Chang-kuei

Today is the fifth anniversary of the launch of the Taipei Times. Over these past five years, whenever the foreign media and politicians have visited our newspaper, they have often asked the following questions: What is the newspapers's market? How much does the Taiwan government subsidize the the paper? How many copies do we sell sell each day? And how much income does the paper generate from ad placements? These foreigners are often often fascinated to discover that I -- the media newcomer running this internationally renowned newspaper -- am actually an elderly gentleman. I tell them very sincerely that the newspaper is collectively run by more than 70 people -- members of our staff who come from as many as eight different English-speaking countries.

The founder of the Taipei Times, Lin Rong-san (林榮三), who is also the founder of the Chinese-language newspaper Liberty Times (自由時報), started this English-language newspaper with the goal of "bringing Taiwan to the world and the world to Taiwan." His intention was to make the Taipei Times a window through which Taiwan sees the world and the world sees Taiwan.

This newspaper was founded on the ideals and principles of professional journalism, which transcends political divisions, so as to impartially report on the developments and problems of Taiwan's evolving democracy, its politics, society, economy and culture. At the same time, we also report world affairs, so as to keep Taiwan connected with the world. Currently, based on the response of our overseas readers, we know that the paper has become Taiwan's most authoritative and trusted English-language news medium.

A main goal of the Taipei Times is to have a news section focusing on Taiwan's political, social, cultural, economic, arts, sports and financial events. The bilingual section, which targets the student reader market, is designed to help Taiwan become a truly bilingual country. It is our intention to publish a newspaper that is representative of Taiwan's voice and meets the needs of Taiwan.

From the very beginning we clearly realized that in running a newspaper in Taiwan we could not be over-dependent on the news stories published by the local Chinese-language newspapers. Nor could we simply reprint foreign wire news. Also, our communication with the global village could not rely simply on the publication of the printed newspaper. Nor could we simply rely only on local staff to do all the editing and reporting work.

Therefore, we recruited journalists from as many as eight different countries who embraced the ideal of "Taiwan first, democracy and freedom No. 1" to join us.

At the same time, we also designed and implemented an Internet news Web site capable of reaching out to all parts of the world. We were determined to become the best of the best.

This newspaper was finally launched on June 15, 1999. At the time, it was very difficult to recruit reporters who could write news stories in the English language. Now we have more than 30 local reporters with excellent professional journalistic writing ability in English.

Despite our ideals and passion, it was very difficult to publish in Taiwan, where there was no real market for English-language news media, an English-language newspaper on par with the standard of international media. In the past Taiwan had been shut out and confined to a small corner of the international community, lacking any news publications capable of making communication with the international community. The hard work of the Taipei Times over these past five years have brought Taiwan into the international community and this in turn has helped the newspaper win over the trust and respect of the international community.

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