Message from the President

What We Expect – Spring Will Come Again to the Media of Taiwan

Since December 2011 as I joined the Board team, I have been privileged to volunteer in Taiwan Media Watch (Media Watch). Before joining the Team, I spent more than thirty years of dedicated work in journalism, including the pursuit of studies in school, the frontline job in the media, and the teaching career at universities. And then I turned to serve in administration at National Chengchi University and later in the Ministry of Education, Taiwan, and had become deeply involved in higher education for ten years or so. So then, why do I turn back to my original professional pursuit, even after so many years in educational administration? There are a few reasons.

First and foremost, the media have tremendous social impact, which creates a powerful incentive for many young professionals, especially for those with a strong sense of mission for justice. Besides, media professionals get public attention easily, which offers another strong incentive for young people to come to this profession.

Second, times have changed: the number of media today is sharply increased, and various forms of media come to emerge – magazines, books, newspapers, movies, radios, cable TVs, internet, etc., which are ubiquitous in the daily life of the young and the old. These media come to shape our knowledge and understanding about people, events, and the world, and deeply influence our values, attitudes, and behaviors. Their impact on our perception and cognition is little by little, and the process is nearly imperceptible. It is often said that the media today, just like our sunshine, air, and water, are already taken for granted in our world. Even worse, what information as well as how the information is transmitted, is usually being modified, even sometimes being manipulated.

Finally, today’s media environment is deteriorating. Media companies become heavily driven by profit at the expense of press freedom. Besides, most of them are overly influenced by political parties and political ideologies, hardly being able to be back on track or even to speak the truth for the public. Media professionals used to be socially admired, but today they do not seem to live up to public expectations.

Who shall bear the responsibility for today’s chaotic environment? Undoubtedly, the government and the media cannot relieve themselves from the responsibility, and neither can the rest of the society, including political parties, schools, advertisers and advertising agencies, market research companies, and the large audience. As long as each and every social participant considers it crucial to share the responsibility, we have the reason to expect a just and fair society and media environment. As a major media monitoring NGO in Taiwan, Media Watch aims to promote the public interest and strengthen democracy. We will not be overly optimistic about future developments nor will we be pessimistic about our endeavors. Rather, we expect to create the platform for diverse civil groups, and further integrate these groups to build a powerful social movement.

We truly expect that when spring comes around, Media Watch will be the first to report the good news!

Sincerely yours,

Jei-Cheng Cheng, Ph.D.