Tue, Mar 24, 2009 - Page 4 News List

COMMUNITY COMPASS: Aspiring French reporters find warmth in Taiwan

STAFF WRITER, WITH CNA

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Journalism in Taiwan is more interesting than in France, say a group of aspiring French reporters who have just completed a two-week internship program in Taiwan.

The interns said in an interview that the warmth of the Taiwanese had disarmed them and completely changed their views about the country.

“It's very interesting to do interviews with local people because they are very kind and nice and they let us ask questions for hours, while people in France would just stop you after 10 minutes,” said Maud Noyon, one of the interns.

The program, the first of its kind organized by the Government Information Office (GIO), brought 17 aspiring reporters from the renowned Journalism Training Center (CFPJ) in Paris to Taiwan for a two-week internship.

The students, who are in their second year at the institute, were required to report on Taiwanese subjects. Their articles will be published in the school magazine as well as submitted to other French media.

Nyon said that on her travels to Chiayi, Kaohsiung and other places in southern Taiwan, the people she interviewed were much nicer and warmer than the French, whom she described as aloof.

“Sometimes it was quite overwhelming because we are not used to it. The French are not very kind, especially to journalists,” she said.

Another intern, Baptiste Touverey, said his view of Taiwanese had changed after several interesting conversations with local residents.

“It's a big surprise. They are not just kind, but also funny and witty,” Touverey said. “I never imagined that Taiwanese had such a good sense of humor.”

He said there was a stereotype of Taiwanese as being very serious.

Noyon agreed, saying that despite the language barrier, many of the people they interviewed tried to make jokes, which made her feel welcome.

Asked about the difficulties they encountered during their work, Marion Cocquet, who wrote feature stories on Taiwan's education system and cram schools, said that the language barrier was the biggest problem.

“It can be really frustrating because I felt that they had things to say to me, but they could only explain in simple words,” Cocquet said, adding that this made it difficult for her to determine the interviewees' feelings on certain issues.

The French students all said they had fallen for the kindness of the people in Taiwan and would love to return.

Founded in 1946 by two journalists, Philippe Viannet and Jacques Richet, the CFPJ has become one of the most prestigious journalism institutions in Europe.

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