Wed, Jan 07, 2015 - Page 3 News List

Taipei to require journalists to wear press vests

By Lii Wen  /  Staff reporter

Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) yesterday said that reporters should wear press vests during demonstrations for identification purposes, after a recent plan by the Taipei City Police Department to restrict media to designated press zones was postponed due to strong opposition from journalists.

Ko has said that the city government will not implement the police department’s unilateral plan, but his new requirement for reporters to don press vests provoked equal resistance.

Since the government will soon require police officers to bear identification numbers on their uniforms — which will help identify individual officers in cases of police brutality — reporters should also be readily identifiable under the “principle of reciprocity,” Ko said.

Last week, nearly 600 journalists and netizens signed a petition against the city police’s announcement on Thursday that it would restrict reporters to designated “press zones” during demonstrations.

The measure was part of a new protocol that aims to regulate relations between police and the media, including plans to designate a media relations officer from the police during demonstrations.

Organizers of the petition blasted the plan, saying it would undermine freedom of the press and would prevent reporters from conveying the full picture to the public.

Following the announcement, Ko’s assistant, Hung Chih-kun (洪智坤), said on Thursday night that the city government was shocked when it heard the news.

On Sunday, in response to mounting public pressure, the police department said it had decided to “postpone” its plan to designate press zones during protests, but that the other parts of the new protocol would remain largely unchanged.

Later in the day, in an interview with Chinese-language Web site NOWnews, Ko said he disagreed with the police department’s plan.

“I don’t know why the Taipei City Police Department would come up with such a stupid policy,” Ko said.

However, his plan to have reporters wear press vests may be equally unpopular.

Hsu Chun-feng (許純鳳), a member of the production team of a Public Television Service news commentary show, said more importance should be placed on establishing regulations for the police to avoid instances of police brutality.

“Who will issue the press vests, and who will decide which people get to wear them?” Hsu asked, adding that many citizen journalism organizations have encountered difficulties with the police.

With journalists readily identifiable by their vests, police officers might infringe on the rights of demonstrators when reporters are not visibly present, Hsu said.

The Association of Taiwan Journalists — which has recently been criticized for taking part in discussions with the police on establishing press zones — said in a statement that press vests should not be used as method to bar citizen journalists from exercising their reporting rights.

The association added that the Ko administration should further discuss its plans with media outlet, reporters’ organizations and citizen journalists about how the policy would be implemented.

This story has been viewed 3810 times.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top