One of my favorite journalists, Helen Thomas, said the following statement about the state of modern journalism in her book Watchdogs of Democracy:
"Something vital has been lost--or have American journalists forgotten that their role is to follow the TRUTH, without fear or favor, wherever it leads them? The truth, raher an agenda, should be the goal of a free press"
Thomas, a seasoned and highly acclaimed reporter who covered nine US presidents, continued to say that "journalists , as purveyors of information, are the watchdogs of democracy."
If I had absolute power for even just one minute, I would wield the power to drill that concept into the heads and the reporters of CNA before it crusies further down the path of becoming the symbol of ass-sucking-news-manipulating-truth-hiding-facts-distorting-China-pandering-government-fearing news agency.
Since the KMT entered office in May 08, CNA has quickly dwindled down to being an utter embarassment from a revered news outlet. First of all, the slot of the deputy president was given to President Ma Ying-ma's old campaign spokesman Luo Chih-chiang. Luo has never been a reporter, editors, or even a coffee boy at a news agency for a day in his life. Yet he occupies the second-most important position in CNA. Hmm....
Secondly, CNA was the ONLY Taiwanese media specifically named in the 2008 US Human Rights Country report on Taiwan, which means even the US State Department is spotting something fishy. The International Federation of Journalists publicly condemned CNA for tampering with reports regarding the melamine scandal. As a response, CNA issued an statement that it upholds the most unbias stance towards news.
If, and HUGE IF, what CNA said was true about its unbias stance, then why was there NO English reports on former President Chen Shui-bian's latest international press conference? Why was DPP Chairman Tsai Ing-wen's criticisms on ECFA axed from the newslist? Why was there virtually no reports on the views of the protestors during the demonstration against Chinese envoy Chen Yun-lin last November?
Xinhua News Agency recently reported that a group of directors of major state-owned media from the Chinese mainland ended a nine-day tour to Taiwan on Friday to visit CNA and TVBS. (http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2009-03/29/content_11094078.htm)
Wen Hengquan, the editor-in-chief of People's Daily was quoted saying he is looking forward to further cross-strait cooperation on news reporting. Wait a minute, did I hear you right?? Why would the most media suppressive country want to joint hands with Taiwan, a country lauded for its press freedom, unless...just unless China sees these Taiwan-based outlets of sharing the same journalistic ideals as them--squash the truth and taint the facts?
The saddest thing, however, is the lack of integrity of the many CNA reporters who self-censor their stories. Of course I understand that's the easiest route to take when one has been completely demoralized, but some of the CNA reporters just simply don't care about seeking after the truth.
One thing I often hear from CNA reporters when they decide pass up a juicy story that could potentially marr the administration was "my agency wouldn't want this, so no point of writing it." Whenever I hear that, I always want to shake them by the shoulders and scream "AND WHO CARES!!! You answer to your readers, not to your boss!" Or better yet, we as reporters answer to our conscience, especially when it comes to monitoring the government. After all, isn't that what being the "fourth estate" is all about?
Journalists are given the solemn mandate of keeping the society informed. Adam Smith said a free market is impossible without an informed society. Helen Thomas said without an informed people, there can be no democracy. At this rate, CNA will be the very butcher to quickly knife away Taiwan's hardwon democracy, one self-censorship at a time.