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News ombudsmen needed in Taiwan to ensure unbiased reporting

News ombudsmen needed in Taiwan to ensure unbiased reporting

An expert in journalistic fairness and ethics told an audience Wednesday that there should be news ombudsmen in Taiwan to ensure impartial reporting in the local media.

Jeffrey A. Dvorkin, a professor of distinction at Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada, said in a video conference held by the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) that the role of news ombudsmen is to support the interest of the public in a credible way.

"The essential role which a news ombudsmen has to play is to monitor the news media so that they would report the news in an unbiased and honest manner, " said Dvorkin, a member of the Organization of News Ombudsmen (ONO) . "News ombudsmen is like an in-house ethical leader."

As for the role of news watchdogs in Taiwan, Dvorkin stressed: "It is not the job of news ombudsmen to decide political disputes. It is to decide if journalism is fair to all sides of the political spectrum."

Dvorkin was addressing media representatives in Taiwan at the video conference organized by the AIT on the topic of "The Role of News Ombudsmen in the U.S."

According to Dvorkin, every news organization should have their own news ombudsmen. When compared to government's executive, legislative and judicial power, news media is often dubbed the fourth power. As a fourth power, the news media should practice strict self-discipline on ethics.

"All media organizations want to do well. However, I think, what the owners of media organizations need to know is that one must first do good in order to do well, " stressed Dvorkin.

"The purpose of media reporting news in an unbiased and honest manner is to uphold public interest, " said Dvorkin.

He added that many media organizations in the United States say that they love the idea of a news ombudsmen, but dropped it due to high costs.

Dvorkin pointed out that after the idea of self-regulation of the news industry sprang up in the United States, it later quickly spread to other parts of the world, such as European countries.

However, Dvorkin said that news ombudsmen are good for serious journalism, not for tabloid newspapers.

"Some news organization such as the Sun, which is renown for its pictures of scantily dressed women and news stories on scandals, also has a news ombudsmen, " added Dvorkin."But their news ombudsmen served more like a window-dressing and did not do much work on monitoring the reports of that news organization."

With increasing numbers of web-based news, Dvorkin added that the use of ombudsmen would be to check the accuracy of news stories and to get the content of the stories right.

The Organization of News Ombudsmen (ONO) is a nonprofit corporation that was formed in 1980. ONO membership comprises various news ombudsmen and readers' representatives from around the world. The ombudsman or representative handles complaints about media reports and attempts to find mutually satisfactory solutions for all parties involved.

Those who attended the conference in Taipei Wednesday included Su Cheng-ping, former chairman of the Central News Agency; Kevin Kuai, professor of National Sun Yat-sen University; and Bishop Chou, a reporter of the Public Television System in Taiwan.

The American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) serves as a de-facto American embassy in Taiwan. It was established shortly after the United States switched its diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing on Jan. 1, 1979.

Updated : 2021-09-19 20:19 GMT+08:00