A panelist at a conference yesterday voiced concerns about the independence of the press, particularly in the wake of advertorials placed by China in Taiwanese media.
Antonio Chiang (江春男), a consultant for the Chinese-language Apple Daily, told a panel at the “Democracy Building in Interesting Times” conference in Taipei that the most serious threat to the independence of the Taiwanese media was advertorials placed by China under the guise of news reports.
Chiang said this phenomenon was a concern because China was willing to put ads in Taiwanese media to promote its image, media outlets that receive funding for such placements then “self-censor” their news coverage to avoid embarrassing or angering Beijing.
“[However], independence of the press is more important than freedom of the press,” Chiang said.
Chiang did not name specific media during his presentation.
At a press conference on Dec. 26, journalism professors alleged that the independence of Taiwanese media was threatened by advertorials placed not only by the Taiwanese government, but also by China since 2008.
The controversy over governmental use of embedded marketing in media came under scrutiny after Dennis Huang (黃哲斌), senior reporter at the Chinese-language China Times, resigned last month in protest over what he called an “invasion of regular news pages by advertorials.”
Chiang said the matter of -advertorials was a “very, very serious problem” because its use by government agencies at all levels blurred relations between the media and the government, and because such placements were becoming the main source of revenue for media.
Chiang said he was also concerned with “highly partisan TV,” with political commentators “acting like priests and talking for hours every night.”
Chiang said the commentators created a new problem for Taiwan because they exacerbated social polarization.