Having been in Taiwan for over three months, I have concluded that the local TV news programmes are pretty poor. There are topical debate programmes in the evening but the general news doesn’t really offer much worth watching.
On a typical day, the general news coverage is predominantly either about road accidents or people arguing on the streets, and often with entertainment news rolled in. Even at a national level, there isn’t significant coverage on general economic and political issues. For a nation with over 23m population who aspires presence on the international platform, apart from a flash mentions of really major issues such as Brexit, terror attacks, shooting sprees, US presidential elections etc, global news is pretty scarce. When chatting to quite a few locals about Brexit and they all say that the TV news doesn’t really tell them much. True you can search this online but that’s not the point.
A few weeks ago a bomb exploded on a commuter train in Taipei injuring 25 people, luckily there were no deaths. At the time nobody knew what caused the explosion but the media was quick to compare this incident to various other public transport bombings in the western world. There was quite an elaborate overview of the Madrid train bombings in 2004, the 7/7 London bombings in 2005, and the Maalbeek metro station attack in Brussels in 2015. I thought the way the media made these comparison was rather amusing. All of these were carefully planned terror attacks but Taiwan has never been known to be high on the attack list. In fact, it turned out that the culprit was a loner who was fed up with life. Secondly, normally Taiwan media doesn’t seem to care much about international affairs, but when it helps them to elevate Taiwan to international status, then international news suddenly becomes very important.
By reporting and comparing these incidents from Europe, it seemed that the media wanted to give the impression that Taiwan, like the western world, has just the same issues. I think this is an odd way to try to elevate yourself on the global platform. Maybe reporting more international news to increase the public’s knowledge and interest in the international arena may be a more practical way?