The environmental protection group Taiwan Watch Institute recently announced the discontinuation of the printed version of the Taiwan Watch (看守台灣) journal starting this month, putting an end to the paper version of the oldest journal published by the nation’s environmental protection groups.
The first issue of the magazine was published in January 1999, and for 15 years it was distributed without fail, with a new edition published every three months.
More than 60 issues have been published over 15 years.
The journal analyzed many of the environmental problems the nation faced over the years, from the pollution of the Erjen River (二仁溪) which runs through Greater Kaohsiung and Greater Tainan and the dissipation of dioxin in the atmosphere from industrial incinerators to more recent concerns such as plasticizers, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), endocrine disruptor substances (EDS) and land justice issues, making it an important contributor to the protection of Taiwan’s environmental debates, the institute’s secretary-general Hsieh Ho-lin (謝和霖) said.
Although the institute was set up with generous funding of NT$300,000 (US$10,173) raised in 1998 by academic Liu Chih-chien (劉志堅), one of the founding members of the institute, and the writers of the articles did not ask for remuneration, leaving the institute with only printing expenses of NT$10,000 per issue, the group still had to employ a full-time editor for NT$25,000 per month, which made the paper version of the journal a dead weight to the group, Hsieh said.
The group’s limited manpower, along with the popularization of the Internet, prompted the institute to discontinue the journal’s paper version.
The institute will now focus on the online version of the journal, which is freely downloadable and was launched in 2005 due to the difficulty of expanding the paper journal’s readership.
The institute is looking to alter the frequency of articles and making the articles more focused in subject matter and publishing them when they are ready rather than at a set time, Hsieh said.