Wed, Mar 13, 2013 - Page 3 News List

PROFILE: Professor fights for media diversity, independence

By Chen Hsiao-yi and Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter, with Staff writer

“In the latter scenario, as these businesspeople’s assets and profits are held hostage in China, they have no option but to run errands for China as its stooges,” Chang said.

A spearhead of media reform movements, Chang has for years been on the front line of efforts to prevent media monopolies from dictating views.

In an effort to warn the government against a “media monster” in the making, Chang compiled a 50-page question-and-answer document titled “Why the Government Should Veto the Next Media Merger Case,” which included opinions from several academics.

She was also among the initiators of a signature drive last year that sought to halt the Next Media takeover, striving to prohibit media, as a social utility, from falling into the hands of a few profit-driven consortiums.

While both Chang and her husband, National Taiwan University philosophy professor Lin Huo-wang (林火旺), are both members of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), they have been vocal critics of President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration.

“It is our [Chang and Lin] common belief that we must put the [interests of the] nation and the people above [those] of political parties,” she said. “For the betterment of the country, one is obligated to come forward and point out mistakes even if they were made by one’s own political party.”

Chang said that while attempts to offer words of advice to the government or seek to make a difference in society often involved mismatched tussles between “small shrimps” and “big whales,” each individual is still capable of playing a decisive role in the country.

The task of pushing media reform is arduous and difficult, as press freedom advocates are vulnerable to litigation by big conglomerates, some of which even use their media resources to launch tirades against media campaigners, she said.

“Because what we advocate is a challenge to some media proprietors with a vested interest in the industry and who are unlikely to report issues that are unfavorable to them or to support reform to change the current system, the road to media reform is especially difficult,” Chang said.

However, Chang said she continues to be motivated by a sense of justice to do what is right.

Although history shows that none of the media reform movements had ever succeeded, Chang said they did accomplish one thing: raising public awareness about media monopolization to prevent further backroom deals involving business and government.

“From now on, media mergers are subject to public participation and close scrutiny by civic groups. Increased public awareness [about media concentration] is the most valuable experience we have gained from years of media reform campaigns,” she said.

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