Taipei Times is ten years old

taipei-times-2009-06-15

It was ten years ago today that I went down to my local 7-Eleven and discovered a brand new newspaper, the Taipei Times. I brought it instead of the Taiwan News* which I usually purchased at the time. Since then the Taipei Times has been my preferred newspaper in Taiwan.

A lot has changed in the last ten years in Taiwan. There has also been the rise of the internet in that time which has rapidly altered the business model for newspapers. It is doubtful that Taiwan can continue to support three English-language newspapers for much longer. The Taipei Times doesn’t carry much advertising and obviously survives via cross subsidisation from its Chinese-language sister paper the Liberty Times (自由時報).

The English-language papers don’t show many sign of adapting to the times though. Despite the importance of the internet, none of Taiwan’s English language newspapers have adopted any Web 2.0 features. None of the newspaper websites include any form of blog or have a Twitter account. The design of their websites vary from bad to atrocious.

Given that international media reports on Taiwan are so often filled with errors or lack of understanding of Taiwan’s position, it is important that Taiwan has its own English-language media outlets to reach out to the world. The Government Information Office recently launched Taiwan Today, a website to replace the Taiwan Journal. It carries translations of articles from the Chinese-language newspapers. As a government publication it is obviously going to select articles that paint a rosy picture of the government and its policies though.

Another major possible change that could take place in Taiwan’s media landscape is the increasing influence of media outlets from Hong Kong and China. These pose a real threat to Taiwan as they could potentially squeeze out Taiwan-based media as well as having a political agenda which threatens Taiwan’s freedom and independence. It is extremely important for democracy that the majority of Taiwan’s media is locally owned and represents the voices and opinions of the Taiwanese people.

With the changes taking place in the media it will be interesting to see which media outlets survive and what form they take in the coming years. My main suggestion to the Taipei Times is to pay some attention to their website rather than treating it as an afterthought. It might be difficult to generate significant revenues from a Taiwan-based news website, but printing newspapers with little advertising and low circulation is also a loss making exercise.

*Taiwan News changed its name from China News in 1999, but not sure of the exact date.

14 thoughts on “Taipei Times is ten years old

  1. I faithfully read the Taipei Times for a good chunk of that ten years and I have to say that it is doing exactly what the rest of newspapers are doing–not changing with the times. And just like those other papers, they are the old media.

    I really believe that we are right on the edge of a new media era with blogs, twitter, citizen journalists etc. It will take a bit of time, but unless the grey ladies change their scope, they will go the way of the 8-track tape

  2. They definitely need to clean up their web page. The subscription form needs to be printed out and mailed in (seriously?!).

    For me, I wish there was a way to donate. It’s easier for me to read off of the RSS feed, but I do want to pay some amount for what I receive.

    Does TT have a separate news desk from the Liberty Times, or do they have just 1 of them gather the news and share the info on both sides. (Obviously, there are some stories in TT that aren’t in LT, so there would be some separate capabilities, but there’s a lot of synergy, including the borrowed editorials).

  3. it took me awhile to figure this out, but Chinese websites exist only if the company feels they need them. they are not provided to serve the Customers. so, until the TT figures that it’s necessary for their business model, there won’t be a satisfactory website because they don’t use it.

  4. I remember looking at preliminary copies of the front page layout we smuggled into the China News not long before the TT launched. It wasn’t hard, of course, as many of their new staff were from the China News, which changed to the Taiwan News around that time. There were rumors at the time that Lee Teng-hui had taken all the money he’d been caught trying to take out of the country and founded the TT with it instead.

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    Speaking of bad design — this particular blog clears your message if you forget to fill out your email.

    The TT is getting worse — not better. What were they thinking applying that hideous font to their articles? It’s almost unreadable. And forget web 2.0 standards. I would be happy if they would put a bloody hyperlink on their headlines.

    And then there’s Taiwan News that resizes your browser.

    (sigh)
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  6. Sincere apologies to anyone who has had problems commenting. I have disabled the WP-Spamfree plugin for the moment which seems to have fixed the problem. I’ll try and fix it properly later. You can always send an e-mail with your comment and I will post it for you. Also if you send details of the error message that might help me fix the problem.

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    David,

    The problem for me is that the “email” field is a required field (but it is not marked as such). When one forgets to input the email, then a new validation page comes up explaining that you forgot your email. When you go back, however, the comment has been cleared.
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  8. marcus, Viva la Revolucion!

    Rob R., Taipei Times and Liberty Times have separate reporting teams. If you want to know more about how much integration there is between the two papers you would need ask someone who works there.

    MJ, maybe you’re right, but I hope they work out they need it soon.

    Poagao, the Taipei Times didn’t manage to tempt you to cross to the other side?

    STOP Ma, the Taiwan News website doesn’t resize the browser when you use it in Opera.

  9. STOP Ma, I have now edited the labels to show which fields are required. I hope that helps.

    I also re-activated the WP-Spamfree plugin, but adjusted the settings to allow users behind proxies to comment. I hope that fixes the problem.

  10. I guess congrats should be in order, but whether they’re deserved or not, I don’t know. I used to be a daily reader but haven’t bothered for a few years now. TT is more-or-less on par with the China Post now in terms of reporting, the only difference being the color of the bias.

    For me, international media does fine for intl news, and I can get the important local news from CNA, or at least the gist of it.

    Taiwan needs one of their moneyed-up diaspora with western journalistic experience to come in and shake things up. Until then, none of the media here are worth spending any time on.

  11. I used to read the Taipei Times regularly when I first started working here. But I can’t be bothered anymore these days.

    During its early years the newspaper was up beat — positive about the IT revolution, and Taiwans future with great content from major newspapers around the world.

    These days its heavy bias makes it very hard to read — the editorials especially can be toe cringingly unreadable.

    Its bias also forces it to actively ignore very large parts of developments important to Taiwan and its future.

    The China Post isn’t much better — together they cancel each other out.

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    David,

    That WILL help users that forget that an email is required. There’s nothing more frustrating than spending the time to write a comment and then have it disappear because of a validation issue.

    Cheers!
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    Thanks

  13. David, is there an RSS feed for all comments?
    I’d like to be able to follow comments on all articles, especially those I don’t comment on.

    And I don’t like email notifications… you end up with a deluge.

Comments are closed.