Half of the respondents in an online poll felt that the Chinese-language Apple Daily published the most bloody simulated pictures in Taiwan, while nearly 70 percent voted to give the “Golden Guava Award” to the paper. The poll was published yesterday by an online media watchdog.
The “Golden Guava Award” takes its meaning from the words “golden” and “guava” in Hoklo (commonly known as Taiwanese). “Guava” in Hoklo is pronounced ba la and the pronunciation for the word “gold (金)” is a homonym for the word “real (真),” making the phrase a derogatory adjective meaning “very worthless.”
The Youth Media Watch Alliance, formed by multiple private organizations, gives out the dubious honor annually to media outlets to remind them that they should implement discipline in their journalism.
The alliance said the online poll asked respondents to share their views on three recent major cases involving young people as reported by the Chinese-language Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister paper), the Chinese-language United Daily News, the Chinese-language China Times and the Apple Daily.
The three cases were: a 15 year-old junior-high student murdering his girlfriend because she was cheating on him; a 17-year-old female student attending a sex party on a train; and the suicide of a family in New Taipei City’s (新北市) Shulin District (樹林).
The poll, conducted from May 21 to June 3, collected votes from 1,402 netizens, 50 percent of which were teenagers, the alliance said.
According to the results, 698 voters, 49.8 percent of the total, felt the Apple Daily had the most pictures that were unsuitable for children, while 967 voters (69 percent) awarded it the “Golden Guava Award.”
Fifty-two percent felt its headline on the 15 year-old murder incident was overly sensational, and 50.1 percent of respondents felt that the description of the case was too detailed.
Taiwan Alliance for Advancement of Youth Rights and Welfare secretary-general Vita Yeh (葉大華) and assistant professor Wang Wei-ching (王維菁) of the Campaign for Media Reform both felt that while journalistic discipline is continuing to improve, the competition between print and electronic media cause them to constantly veer toward the border of what is acceptable.
The government should not just stand by and let civilian organizations fight it out with media outlets, they added.
The Apple Daily has won the infamous award three years in a row and it should know by now that some of its “sensational” titles and “overtly detailed descriptions of criminal activity” are unnecessary, Yeh said, adding that news media should practice the principle of proportionality.
Taipei Women’s Rescue Foundation member Chang Kai-chiang (張凱強) said that a newspaper’s excessively detailed description of a criminal’s modus operandi forces its readers to endure visual violence. She added that media outlets should not use the excuse that the people have a right to know.
In response, the Apple Daily’s editing office said that since its foundation the paper has established a journalistic discipline committee as well as regulations for its reporters, and that it pays great attention to such surveys and would be more careful when reporting these kinds of news stories.
Additional reporting by CNA
Translated by Jake Chung, Staff Writer