Media professionals yesterday criticized the pro-unification newspaper United Daily News for its handling of former Tuntex Group chairman Chen Yu-hao's (陳由豪) accusations against first lady Wu Shu-chen (吳淑珍) and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
Ten experienced media figures discussed the issue of media ethics when covering news related to the presidential election yesterday at a forum held by the Association of Taiwan Journalists.
The topic under discussion was the recent allegation by fugitive tycoon Chen Yu-hao (
On March 1, reports about Chen's allegation appeared in the United Daily News and China Times, followed by the publication of Chen's fourth public letter to the president in the United Evening News and the China Times Express on the same day.
"Some reports about Chen's allegation ... lacked factual verification. Acting as a monitor should be the most important role of the media," said Yang Hsien-hung (楊憲宏), a senior media figure, who added that the media should enjoy total freedom to report.
"However, because they are given total freedom, media personnel should realize the importance of self-discipline even more," Yang said.
Lu Shih-hsiang (盧世祥), chairman of the Foundation for the Advancement of Media Excellence, explained the role of the media as follows: "On behalf of the Media Monitor Alliance, I want to say that all members of the alliance have come to the conclusion that there are four important ethical considerations a media outlet should keep in mind -- be a bystander, not a government mouthpiece; verify the facts; serve the public and base commentaries on facts."
The United Daily News' Ong Tai-sheng (翁台生) said that his paper's interview with Chen had been conducted by an experienced and credible journalist.
"This journalist, who did a 20-hour-long interview with Chen, has worked for the United Daily News for a long time and has built a very strong credibility. This journalist used his professional judgement to discern whether certain things Chen told him were true," Ong said.
"Given Taiwan's delicate political situation, as well as the lack of independent prosecutors and information transparency, the burden of proof in reporting is a very difficult topic," Ong said.
The other participants were Shih Jing-wen (石靜文), president of the Association of Taiwan Journalists, Feng Chien-san (馮建三), president of Media Watch, Clara Chou (周玉蔻), an ETFM radio host, Chuke Chun (諸葛俊), deputy manager at TVBS, Yang Hsien-cun (楊憲村) of the China Times, Ong Tai-sheng (翁台生) of the United Daily News, Tzou Jiing-wen (鄒景雯) of the Liberty Times and Chang Cheng-lin (張正霖) of the Taiwan Daily.