Fri, Sep 09, 2005 - Page 2 News List

Youth want better TV reporting

SURVEY A poll of Internet users found respondents were unhappy with the quality of TV news, while President Chen warned that bad reporting threatens freedom of speech

BY JEAN LIN  /  STAFF REPORTER , WITH CNA

Young Internet users think that unprofessional reporters are one of the biggest problems with TV news reporting, according to the results of a survey released yesterday.

Many TV reporters who appear on variety shows overstep their professional boundaries with paparazzi-style reporting, Hsu Yung-ming (徐永明), a media expert at the Academia Sinica, said at a press conference held by the Broadcasting Development Fund to announce the survey findings.

The survey was designed by Yam Digital Technology Co with the hopes that its results would help provide guidelines for the media.

Since the survey was conducted on a voluntary basis, the results should be accurate, said Hsiao Ching-teng (蕭景燈), vice president of Yam.

Exaggeration, strong political interference and violence listed as the primary flaws in TV reporting.

"The public wants balanced and unbiased news reports, professional reporters and good content," said Connie Lin (林育卉), the fund's chief executive officer.

Hsu said the focus of news channels should not be on achieving high ratings but on the quality of their reporting.

"News channels with high rating are not necessarily the most liked by the public," Hsu said. "People might hate a channel but continue to watch it so they can criticize it."

"Hopefully the survey results will halt the media trend toward conjuring up stories just for high ratings," Hsu said.

In a related development yesterday, President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) accused some in the media of helping spread "a culture of smearing" by basing their reporting on anonymous letters and warned that abusing the freedom of speech could endanger democracy.

In a posting on his online newspaper, Chen said that a key difference between an advanced democracy and a backward one lies in the abuse or respect of freedom of expression.

He said that in an advanced democracy with complete freedom of the press, those making public statements or contributing to news reports must also shoulder 100 percent of the responsibility for their statements or reports.

His comments came in response to recent media reports accusing officials of fawning over him.

Chen wrote that reports about "the bridge of sycophants" and "sycophantic troops" were examples of abuse of freedom of the press because both were based on anonymous letters.

One such letter, which triggered a whirlwind of reports and commentaries about a temporary bridge that he used to inspect the Hsuehshan Tunnel on the Taipei-Ilan Expressway, cast aspersions on the contributions made by thousands of engineers and workers, Chen wrote.

Another anonymous accusation hurt the feelings of hundreds of men and women in uniform who had worked hard to prepare for a presidential visit for an Armed Forces Day function, he wrote.

He said all members of society should reflect on the appropriateness of the media using unsigned letters to exaggerate so-called " news events."

Chen said every citizen should feel free to write or call any government agency to express their opinion about government services, but one critical condition for the agencies to respond to complaints is to first determine the source.

The government will not respond to any accusation or criticism coming from an unidentified source, he said, adding that officials can throw out such complaint to stop what he called the spread of "the ill wind of rumors."

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