Government pressure a challenge for Taiwan media workers: poll

Taipei-Pressure from employers, uncertainty about work, and pressure from government agencies are the top three challenges facing media workers in Taiwan, the Association of Taiwan Journalists (ATJ) said Wednesday, citing a recent poll.

According to the survey conducted by the ATJ and Taiwan Media Watch in February, 23.8 percent of journalists in the country see pressure from government agencies as their biggest challenge.

Another 30.1 percent are most concerned about pressure from their company's executives, while 25.3 percent are worried most about job stability, the ATJ said at a press conference, citing the poll.

Meanwhile, 48 percent of the 63 journalists surveyed said either they or their colleagues had been attacked or had received threats while carrying out their job over the past year, the ATJ said without specifying the source of those actions.

According to the ATJ, many journalists do not report violations of their rights for fear of backlash and threats to their personal safety.

The recent legislation enacted in Taiwan to combat disinformation and protect personal information related to COVID-19 infections has resulted in a certain level of self-censorship in the media to avoid penalties, the association said.

It suggested that the National Communications Commission take into consideration a media entity's observance of its workers' rights, when the company's broadcasting license comes up for review.

Furthermore, government agencies and police departments should respect journalists' rights, the association said, adding that it has documented several cases in which reporters faced obstruction from authorities when covering protests or other controversial events.

Commenting on the findings of the survey, Cheng Yi-ping (???), chairman of the National Media Industry Union, said reporters do indeed have to deal with all sorts of pressure from their bosses and government agencies.

When a news channel suddenly stops reporting about the dubious actions of a politician or decides not to air certain news stories, such as the Cashbox Partyworld KTV fire that claimed six lives in 2020, it is because company executives have given an order to that effect, he said.

Chen, who is also deputy director of the NextTV Labor Union, said media companies should pay for mental health counselling and psychotherapy for their reporters who have to cover traumatic disasters such as the recent express train crash, in which 49 people were killed and hundreds injured.

Lai Hsiang-ling (???), a legislator from the Taiwan People's Party, said she was "concerned" about the findings of the poll.

Journalists are often forced to set aside their rights as they try to deal with the pressure of competition in the breaking news cycle, Lai said, adding that greater public awareness of the problem is needed.

Legislator Hung Sun-han (???) of the Democratic Progressive Party said that the work environment is part of press freedom and media professionalism, and he called for action on the part of the relevant authorities to protect the rights of media workers.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel