Friday, December 07, 2012

Power to the people

Winds of change blow across Taiwan media. MALUM NALU reports
In Taiwan, where I spent my three weeks R&R in last month, a media revolution is sweeping the country and giving more power to the people: Citizen Journalism.
This is particularly so at the Public Television Service in Taipei where PeoPo  - short for People’s Post – has been hailed as the new media frontier of Citizen Journalism in Taiwan.
PeoPo host Julia Wang on air.-Pictures by MALUM NALU

The winds of change are blowing across Taiwan and the world as the shift is made towards web media (broadband net), convergent media (two-way interaction), and cloud media (cloud computing)
“Peopo”, according to Phil Harding of The Guardian newspaper, “could well be a model for Citizen Journalism in the future.
Citizen Journalism poster in Taipei

Taiwan, a hi-tech small island country of 23 million people, has a flourishing and prolific media that consists of four major newspapers (which already face an uphill battle against the Internet, with a steady decline in penetration rate and advertising revenue).

As of June 2011, Taiwan had:
·         171 radio stations;
·          Five terrestrial television stations;
·          62 cable television operators;
·         7,160 audio (compact disc, etc) production companies;
·         107 satellite broadcasting programme providers on 281 channels;
·         2,156 newspaper publishers;
·         8,122 magazine publishers;
·         13, 257 book publishers; and
·         1, 886 news agencies.
The rise of Web 2 in recent years has given rise to citizen journalists in recent years from passive consumers to active participants.
Popular PeoPo host, Julia Wang, live on air
PeoPo was launched in 2007 and is focused on grassroots, autonomy, empowerment, social issues, facilitating dialogue, and on freeware and creative commons.
 It uses a multi-media platform for videos (50%), photographs and text; has no editing or censorship; has had over 75,000 accumulated stories as of last month; and has over 6,000 citizen journalists.
Inside the studios of Public Television Service in Taipei
These citizen journalists have covered breaking and exclusive stories such as accidents, controversial land cases, background of presidential candidates, the immense disaster of Typhoon Morakot in 2009, and many others.
Journalists from 28 countries around the world, who were invited for a workshop in Taiwan last month, could not help but be fascinated by the impact of citizen journalism there.
International journalists from 28 countries at Public Service Television

Ley-chyn Lin, director of the international department at Public Television Service and a journalist himself, said Citizen Journalism was the trend of the future.
Ley-chyn Lin, director of the international department at Public Television Service and a journalist himself, says Citizen Journalism is the trend of the future.-

“I think in the future, we’ll have traditional media working with people like this (citizen journalists) side-by-side, because we can no longer cover every side of society,” he tells us.
“We still will have journalists covering regular beats like presidential office, congress, as citizen journalists are not going to do that in a very-efficient way, and we have to have season reporters doing in-depth journalism – I think that’s still the core of journalism.
Visitors to Public Television Service in Taipei

“But at the same time, for local stories and important stories happening in rural areas, we need to work with the local people, who need training in citizen journalism, to work hand-in-hand.
“That will probably be the best situation in future, I think.
“But for us as professional journalists, we have to consider that citizen journalists have certain merits, before they can work with us.
“The basic reporting skill, even the video reporting skill, is not that difficult to acquire.
News department at Public Television Service
“There are a couple of hundred people here (in Taiwan) who are very active, who acquire their own equipment, they work very hard, they are probably better video editors than many of the regular reporters.
 “The operate as a one-man band.
“They can shoot (videos), they can write, they can edit.
“They don’t do very well in the first year or second year, but they are going to be very good in the sixth, seventh, or eighth year – and they are often much specialised.”
Lin gave the example of a Taiwanese professor who, before attending an international convention some years ago, was handed a video camera by PeoPo and turned out to be an excellent reporter.
“Once they (citizen journalists) acquire these basis video reporting skills, they will produce more-credible stories than journalists who have no specialty,” he said.
“These are things we (journalists) have to watch out for.
“I think the media has been democratised.
“The walls are falling down!
At Public Television Service in Taipei

“I think this army of bees (citizen journalists) is going to hit us (journalists) hard in the future.”
The citizen journalists trained by Public Television Service and do not get paid for their stories.
“The incentive is they have a story to tell and there is a platform for them to tell their own stories,” Lin said.
“This is an Internet platform.
“We have more than one physical workshop a week.
“We have online tutorial material, but we go to different places, different groups like community colleges, community centres and schools to teach them the basic idea of journalism, video reporting.
“This is really the key to making the platform work.
“You get people involved, they have a sense of belonging, they communicate with people who run the platform, and they get trained in the skills and ideology.
“We don’t really have that much money, but it’s our staff that go out every weekend to train.”
Asked about the future of journalism with the onslaught of Citizen Journalism, Lin said: “I think it (journalism) is still very important to us.
“I think we still need professional journalists to do their job.
“I think journalism education needs reforms, constant reforms.
“That’s the challenge for all the journalism schools because the technology and the Internet change so fast.”
With the popular host of PeoPo Julia Wang at Public Television Service

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