Monday, August 10, 2009


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On the other hand.......

Media consolidation and convergence enhance the capacity of the media serve as a guard to help hold down disagreements and criticism through lack of resourceful accesses within the media. However, it may not benefit a country that depends on a diversity of opinion from the media sources. The main reason is that the quality of democratic decision-making is closely linked to the quality of information provided by the media as the media serves two different roles, in terms of the media-forum and information provider. It is impossible to have the exact definition of “information provider” as every individual of the public has different needs and interpretations abilities based on the news contents. This shows that comprehensiveness will be the core element in such case and interpretation of issues from the public are of equally important as well in the ever-increasing complexity of political issues selectivity in the society. One way of reducing the complexity viewpoint of the political world will be biasness information given from the media as it will definitely lead to ongoing debate on a particular value preferences and beliefs among the public. Thus, information quality and the need for orientation are vital in a country on starting their new democracies, especially during the period of following the breakdown of the old ruling systems as people need information for their decision-making process and to reach a fair decision as well.

Therefore, McQuail had included ‘social order’ alongside ‘freedom’ and ‘equality’ in his theory of media performance that these are the three basic communication values that are necessary to be implemented in a media organization and on the journalistic practice of a country. The debate topics between freedom and public interest can be expected to be the main conflict in a country with new democracies, deep social divisions, unfinished nation-building, making integration (McQuail, 1992).

These also bring up the possibilities on the changes of aggressive reporting on the practical effect of this consolidation and convergence within newsrooms, such as bringing in harder and more sensation questions and harsher criticism of the government and other elites in the news reporting. The reason is that the media is not just a mass medium for conveying messages to the public, they are also active participants in the creation of political messages and have significant impact on what is being communicated to the people of the public sphere as well. For Apple Daily, the editors and publishers viewed dramatization personalization and eye-catching business strategies and publications are examples of what journalists regards as the good sources in making of an interesting story to attract more readerships and also serve as chances to portray greater opinion from the public.

In conclusion, there is a distinctive bottom-up two asymmetrical flows of communications with feedback loops between the Apple Daily and its readers, whereby the readers provide feedbacks to the print media, and they accept these feedbacks and publish them to make known to the rest of general public. Thus, a credible public sphere was created through the online communication network adopted by the Apple Daily. However, the current status of Taiwan’s democracy still faces unknown challenges in the coming years even though significant changes had take place in the country before.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

The needs of Apple Daily for the existing political power from China

As new democracies had moved away from the existing political power, the old authoritarian political systems still tried to hold tightly in order to maintain its political status and power in the country in a desperate manner. This is a typical case of Taiwan and the People Republic of China whereby the Kuo Min Tang (KMT) still tried to maintain its effective control of civil society through a combination of coercion and cooptation trough the development of a “patron-client relationship” between the state and the media. The examples will be the major publications of both the United Daily News and the China Times in Taiwan, which show China still wanted to pursue a policy of dependent development close to the KMT so as to surpress the public participation to depoliticize and demobilize the public sphere. These show that the media do play an increasingly active and significant role as political agents, especially the case of Apple Daily, so as to providing the chance of a platform for the alternative sources of voices and perspectives. As the instruments of popular mobilization and responsive politics, the media can both promote and support regime change and democratic consolidation of the media; also, they can be the mouthpiece for political authoritarianism, helping to preserve a conservative style of government.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Media changes in Taiwan

The media in Taiwan had changed, but as compared to China, these changes had revealed the potential influence of deliberate elite-led political reforms that are shaping Taiwan into a modern democratic society. Despite the tight political associations with the mainland of China, the media in Taiwan still enjoy full professional autonomy from state interference, and have the opportunity to scrutinize and challenge political power without the threat of political reprisal common in authoritarian Taiwan (Gary D. 2001). This supports the case of Apple Daily, whereby the public sphere itself is regarded as a specific domain, which shows as the public domain versus the political domain. The reason is the owner of Apple Daily, Lai, is against the ruling Nationalist Party (Kuo Min Tang) so even though Habermas’s public sphere stated that it helps to boost an island’s political system to achieve media consolidation of democracy, sometimes the public appears to be opposed to the authorities.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Apple Daily promotes Civic journalism

Habermas’s public sphere is useful to explain the dynamic relationship between Apple Daily and its readers as the theory conceptualise civic journalism’s goal of creating a public space where citizens can debate on public issues in a much informal ways. The Apple Daily had facilitated a democratic participatory of the public sphere it had created in the media and these civic journalism movements were echoed through the two asymmetry way of communications between the public and media publication. To make such democratic public discourse a reality, all of the large-scale institutions within society have to become more democratic, piece by piece. In the case of the media, more democratic structure was needed to increase public access and counteract the concentration of ownership and the growth of media conglomerates. (Calhoun, 1993). This kind of national and international media models that incorporates media literacy requires “radical media activism”(Downing, 2000). This definitely improves the journalism by promoting alternative opinions of both the print and broadcast medias for democratic discourse. The main point is that the public are educated individuals, listeners and spectators, and they can benefit themselves through the market of the objects and topics that were subject to discussions. Therefore, media must be open to mass participation by the public to encourage civic journalism media reform movements. Thus, citizen issues were made topical and took on shape trough the rise of modern state.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Moving towards a liberization society

China and Taiwan have very different political and media cultures. First, China is an example of a neo-authoritarian country whereby the government exercise tight controls over the media freedoms. The reason is to pursuit of a developmental agenda that privileges political interests and the continuity of the political status of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Also, the independence of the Chinese media is politically constrained, offering the appearance of a system that can be understood only by a state-centric perspective. The contents of the messages conveyed by both the print and broadcast medias are closely supervised and managed by the authorities from the government sector. Examples of such sources are the national television and press, as well as the political news and information.

On the other hand, after the victory of the presidential election for Chen Shui bian on 18 March 2000, which also marked the end to Kuo Min Tang’s fifty-five years of continuous rule over Taiwan, Taiwan had encouraged and created new opportunities for a brand new public spaces into their society, such as to be open for popular mobilization, protest, and participation in the political processes in its country. The is the main reason of the increase in readership for Apple Daily as they company use new communications technologies, such as the mobile telephony Internet forums and outdoor focus groups to amplify the alternative opinions of the grassroots so as to be heard in a greater extends.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Dynamic relationships with readers

It is important for newspaper publications to understand their readers’needs, such as what kinds of news publications the public prefer and want to know more on. Also, to engage in their potential readers as well so as to provide better news coverages that are relevant to readers’ lives and increase the readerships, and Apple Daily had accomplished these areas successfully though the effective strategies they had used. They had included several innovative interaction mechanisms in its publication, such as the focus group, corrections and comments section in the paper and web message boards that systematically gather readers’ feedbacks and making sure readers’ preferences can be reflected in the daily news selection. These show that the Apple Daily cares about their readers’ preferences more than other newspapers, as it treats newspapers like a "commodity" and believes that it is much more important to publish stories that readers prefer to read.

Moreover, a public community was created by the media, especially the news media after the lifting of political restrictions on newspapers in 1988, as both the formal structures of government and the informal structures of civil society turn to this forum for information. This is when the tabloid style newspaper Apple Daily was introduced into the already competitive newspaper market and it had established a dynamic relationship with their readers by involving them in news production processes. This means that the readers are concerned about the press and the role it plays in a democratic society, they are then treated as information consumers when they provide their opinions to the publication and these feedbacks they had provided had became much more important. Though the enforced, two-party system of representation goes a long way towards making democracy because access to information and ideas remains crucial to the public’s capacity to organize and resist. Thus, newspapers have become more reader-oriented and market-driven (Underwood & Stamm, 1992).