Calling for higher-quality news coverage, media representatives yesterday decried the rumor-based reporting methods that have recently become more common, especially allegations made against government officials without solid proof.
Connie Lin (
Politicians have taken a liking to "soap opera" style revelations, feeding information to reporters whenever they want and reminding the public to wait for the next "episode" or disclosure, Lin said.
The media has become a tool of these politicians, she said.
Chuan Po-chung (
"Some `scandal revealers' can be trusted while many others cannot. The media must be able to tell the difference," Chuan said.
Information from a text message or an anonymous tipster is not always accurate, he said, and if such rumors are reported, the media's job is to do a thorough follow-up to see if the rumors are true or false.
Lu Shih-hsiang (
"When one dog barks, all the others bark too, without knowing the reason," Lu said.
"It's unbelievably basic, but the media forgets that they cannot `bark' without knowing the evidence," he said.
The media should refuse to become rumormongers, Lu said.
Political commentator Chien Yu-yen (
"It's not that we reporters don't have consciences," Chien said. "The whole system is problematic. We have to report scandalous rumors because if we don't, our jobs are on the line."
Yu Ying-fu (尤英夫), an attorney specializing in media law, reminded journalists that people targeted by rumors or caught up in scandals are "innocent till proven guilty."
"The media cannot presuppose that they know everything and that they can reach the verdict on their own," Yu said.
Yu said that according to Article 23 of the Broadcasting and Television Law (廣電法), if a person feels that a television station broadcast erroneous information about them, they are entitled to an opportunity to clarify and defend themselves on the same station within 15 days.
A TV station has to respond to the person's request for clarification and defense within seven days.
However, Yu said, he urges victims to sue because the law is on their side.
Lin said the media should apologize after false information has been reported and that it should remember the social responsibilities it has.
"The media needs to remember to do reports based on evidence, not guesswork," she said.
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