Fri, May 23, 2008 - Page 3 News List

REPORTER'S NOTEBOOK: Ma mobile phone ban raises reporters' ire

ANNOYEDReporters covering the new president's first media conference were told to leave their phones with security, and only 14 were chosen to ask questions

By Ko Shu-ling 柯淑齡  /  STAFF REPORTER

President Ma Ying-jeou's (馬英九) first press conference with the local press corps irritated many of the reporters in attendance.

The event, hosted by Presidential Office Spokesman Wang Yu-chi (王郁琦), was attended by reporters from 38 local media outlets, who were immediately annoyed by a request to leave their cellphones with security.

Wang later came down to the press room to apologize for the inconvenience.

During the press conference, only four print media reporters were chosen to ask questions, while 10 TV reporters found favor in Wang's eyes.

CHOSEN ONES

The four print media outlets were the China Times, China Times online, The Journalist and China Review News.

Questions focused mainly on domestic affairs, and many of them concerned powder-puff issues such as the first lady's skirt, her role as a career woman, Ma's English and his chef.

One newspaper reporter said that it would have been a better idea to hold a separate press conference for print media and TV stations because they have different needs.

Besides, Ma might feel more comfortable talking about more sensitive issues when the cameras were not around, he said.

Another reporter, also from the print media, said he did not think it was necessary to have separate press conferences, but the way reporters were picked should be fairer because TV stations tend to prefer shallow issues.

Another newspaper reporter said he was not surprised at how the press conference was run because that was just the way the Ma camp operates.

He said that he realized Ma did not have much time, but he was wondering whether Ma really needed to keep such a tight schedule.

Taking yesterday as an example, he said, Ma had 11 engagements, including meeting nine leaders of the country's diplomatic allies.

"It seems like he is running the country like he runs an election campaign," he said.

The reporter also expressed the hope that Ma would be more specific when he fielded questions, although the reporter said he realized it was not one of Ma's virtues.

BLAMING THE MEDIA

However, the media is partly to blame because they rarely challenged Ma and so he was in the habit of lecturing on issues like a university professor, he went on.

The reporter said Wang still has a lot to learn, including ensuring that journalists from the print media, including Chinese and English-language, TV and radio stations had a fair chance to ask questions.

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