主播台下說新聞

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1999 / 4月

文‧滕淑芬採訪整理 圖‧薛繼光



他們憑著一張臉、一張嘴,每天「闖」入你我家廳房,說長道短、談天下事。他們代表電視台的形象,也有人視他們為明星、偶像,更有人轉換跑道,一參選而成政治新星。

中天頻道主播葉樹姍,和華視主播李四端,曾任職多家電視台,都是相當資深的電視工作者。多年來他們每天向台灣觀眾說新聞,也參與新聞製作。在專業新聞人與偶像明星間擺盪的資深主播,處理新聞的原則受到哪些因素影響?他們對現今的電視環境有何想法?身為觀眾的我們該如何「選」看新聞?

葉樹姍:

主播是新聞代言人,我們詮釋新聞的方式會和電視台劃上等號。以前我們提到台視就想到盛竹如、顧安生,中視的熊旅揚、華視的李艷秋。

主播為什麼變成明星?可能和報紙版面增加有關,開始把主播消息放到影劇版,主播被要求拍沙龍照。有一次我對報社記者說,來拍我工作的情形就好了,這位記者回說,拍美美的照片可以發彩色版,而且其他女主播都拍了。我問,那男主播呢?「男主播拍來拍去都是那些顏色,不好看。」我才體會到原來我們只是彩色版上的顏色。以前只有三台時,主播不需要打知名度,現在新電視台就很積極、主動,於是到過年、元宵節常常可以看到主播穿上大紅衣服、拿春聯、提花燈的照片。

最大迷思

現在電視新聞最大問題,就是收視率的迷思。

大家都在罵社會新聞掛帥,李四端剛加入華視時,其他兩台就很緊張說要推出祕密武器,結果華視作檳榔西施,中視就作賓館的針孔攝影機,台視就作台中的辣妹紅茶。我碰到台視新聞部經理顧安生,就對他說,我們不要自亂陣腳嘛!他說,「真是沒辦法,收視率就在那一段特別高。」因為大家都在試、都想捉觀眾口味,最後就得到這麼一個可悲的結論。然後還安慰或麻醉自己說,沒辦法,為了競爭、收視率,電視要靠廣告維生。

但我們是專業者,電視觀眾的品味應由電視台主導,而不是迎合。我們可不可能不要管收視率?而做我們該做的新聞?

社會期望要媒體自律,是不可能的,現在的秩序越來越亂。以前我們報導雛妓、愛滋病患,會避開他們的臉、作變聲處理,顧及他們的人權。好不容易有了共識,又出來一批新媒體、新記者,不知道是不懂還是明知故犯,又把秩序攪亂,如果偷跑沒有人譴責,就會帶壞其他人。

每天處理新聞都在矛盾中掙扎,以周玉蔻、黃義交緋聞來說,明明三分鐘的新聞,媒體偏要作到五分鐘,以滿足觀眾的偷窺慾,這也是另一個迷思。所謂知的權利,到底要知道什麼?內幕、或醜聞?

中間不是沒有抗拒過,我離開超視的一個原因,就是超視一位來自香港的總經理舉香港電視台的《城市追擊》節目為例,報導一位香港人在大陸「包二奶」,結果太太帶著兒子跳樓,創下高收視率。他希望我們的新聞可以煽情一點,我不可能這樣做,只有選擇離開。

離開或革命?

但是螳臂擋車,也不是一個電視台的問題,而是大環境的問題。除非不作電視,少有人會把自己當作「最後戰士」。為了生活、興趣還是繼續留下來,頂多見面發發牢騷、吐吐苦水。但這是消極做法,所以我早上主持台北之音的《台北塞車族》有個媒體觀察的單元,結合記者協會、學者、觀眾的聲音,例如媽媽們覺得電視太血腥,可以發起拒看運動,希望可以帶給電視台壓力。

李四端:

台灣的電視台成立時,政令宣導的意義大於一切,電視新聞的角色其實很卑微,三台也只有那幾張臉,容易得到認可,新聞沒有宣傳的必要。頻道多元化後,電視需要更多臉孔來播新聞,臉孔之間就形成競賽。商業雖然不是罪惡,但電視新聞已經是市場下高度競爭的產物。

三台雖然享受一段被保護的時間,但現在也看清楚電視商業的本質,沒人保護你,必須為員工福利、股東負責。換句話說,就是生存。

不是新聞的新聞

「煽情」是資本主義社會下媒體共有的現象,不管電視、報紙、雜誌都面臨這個問題。三台新聞在解嚴前非常保守,很多聲音聽不見,社會也無從表達他們的意見。以前台灣沒有這些社會案件嗎?還是有,但那時自殺新聞不會上電視;現在我們把社會真實面貌毫無選擇地呈現出來,因為頻道太多,需要的新聞量大。

我們的新聞時段呈倍數增加,只有把原來不見得是新聞的事件全變成新聞。那麼多記者在製造需求,SNG可以轉播豬公競賽、銀行防暴演練、政治人物過生日擺五怌遄A過去這叫新聞嗎?

現在看到的是新聞價值的模糊,專業者的品味有些混亂。無線台有值得批評的地方,但面對多台競爭,如果其他台都跑到這條新聞,你不報導,你是道德崇高還是麻木不仁?

目前各家電視台是迎戰的階段,可能有點偏離常軌、或過分商業化。新聞環境一直在改變,從保守封閉,到混亂、百家爭鳴,我們接受社會嚴格檢驗,只是檢驗者的水準也參差不齊,不知道誰說的對。我們很清楚要面對觀眾的選擇,從觀眾的批評聲中,我們知道社會還是有主流價值。無線台該做的是,不要離主流價值太遠,但社會也不要期望所有媒體都「長」得一樣。

現在媒體和觀眾的親近性是過去沒有的,過去小市民打電話給媒體說我要開記者會,誰理你?但現在你要申訴你的不平,的確得到更多表達機會,小村莊的抗爭也有媒體會來採訪。

不是測謊機

但媒體只是報導者,不是測謊機,譬如有人開記者會,說某某牌的飲料中有蟑螂,我們永遠不知道蟑螂怎麼進去的?但是我知道我的報導出來後對廠商絕對是負面消息。即使事後追蹤或更正,意義已經不大。我們要謹慎或有所顧慮的是,等查清楚再報導、還是立刻報導?不立刻報導,會影響到其他消費者的權益;但如果廠商又是大廣告客戶,可能會遭遇到壓力。這類消費新聞最難處理,因為我們真的不知道事實真相。

媒體服務功能越普及,越可能被誤用。更何況現在懂得「操控」媒體的人太多了,不只是政黨、政府,公關公司也是其中之一。

全台灣最沒有被媒體檢驗的是資本家,主控媒體的是這個資本結構。最近六年台灣社會對媒體投下多少資源,難道這些人都是來作慈善事業嗎?我們的能力就是還能按照辦公室公認的標準生產新聞,讓這個遊戲不至污染到新聞生產過程。     

p95

曾任職台視、超視,現任中天頻道主播的葉樹姍,希望能尋覓到電視新聞的「香格里拉」。

p97

電視主播光鮮亮麗,吸引多少人注目。名主播李四端說,怞h年的工作經驗,他早已過了主播為名人的心境。

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近期文章

EN

Anchors Away

Compiled by Teng Sue-feng /photos courtesy of Hsueh Chi-kuang /tr. by Jonathan Barnard


Every day the talking heads enter our homes, speaking on and on about all kinds of stuff. As personifications of television station images, they are regarded by many as celebrities or pop idols, and some of them have even switched careers to become rising political stars.

Stella Yeh, an anchor for CTN, and Paul Lee, an anchor for CTS, have worked for numerous television stations and are well-established senior members of their profession. For many years, they read the news to audiences in Taiwan and also participated in news production. What influences the way these senior anchors, who are at once professional journalists and icons of popular culture, handle news? What thoughts do they have about the current television environment? And how should we in the audience "choose" between the news on offer?

Stella Yeh:

In conveying the news, we anchors serve as spokespersons, and our interpretation of the news can be equated with the station's interpretation. In the past, when someone mentioned TTV, you would think of Sheng Chu-ju and Ku An-sheng; CTV would bring to mind Hsiung Lu-yang; and CTV Li Yen-chiu.

Why do anchors become celebrities? Perhaps it's partly related to newspapers expanding and, with a greater demand for copy, putting news about anchors on the celebrity pages of their entertainment sections. Now anchors are asked to pose for pretty newspaper photos. Once I told a newspaper reporter that it should be enough just to come and take photos of me as I worked, and the reporter responded that a pretty posed picture would be printed in color as opposed to just black and white, and that all of the other women anchors had similar photos. So I asked, what about the men? And she responded, "When you photograph the men, they're always wearing the same few colors and they don't look good." It was then that I realized that we were quite literally just providing color. In the past, when there were just three television stations in Taiwan, the anchors didn't need to increase their name recognition. But now, with so many new cable stations, television stations are being very aggressive about promotion. During the Chinese New Year's holidays, you often see newspaper photographs of anchors in red clothing holding New Year's couplets or traditional lanterns.

The big myth

The biggest problem with current television news is the ratings myth.

Everyone is complaining about the focus on "community news" [a news category in Taiwan that encompasses crime and other social phenomena, particularly the more seamy]. When Paul Lee first started working at CTS, the other two original stations got nervous and started talking about bringing out secret weapons of their own. CTS reported on those scantily clad young beauties who sell betel nuts in glass-walled roadside stands, CTV did an expose of hidden cameras in love hotels, and TTV did a series on the tea shops in Taichung [where the tables are particularly low, forcing the young waitresses in miniskirts to bend over]. I ran into Ku An-sheng, head of news at TTV, and I told him that it shouldn't be so easy to lead us astray from our original conception of news. He said, "There's nothing we can do about it; the ratings are particularly high for that segment." With everyone trying to give the audience what they want, we end up with this tragic outcome. And then we comfort ourselves, or at least numb the pain, by saying there's nothing we can do about it, that the station has to compete for higher ratings because it survives on advertising revenue.

But we are professionals, and, rather than pandering to the audience, we should be directing public taste. Why can't we forget about the ratings and just do our jobs reporting the news?

Society wants the media to regulate itself, but that's impossible, and the media is stooping lower and lower. In the past, when we filmed prostitutes or AIDS patients we would obscure their faces and distort their voices to protect their rights. It was no easy feat to reach such a consensus, but then, when the new media outlets came on the scene, the old order was toppled overnight. If people aren't taken to task for ignoring these conventions, they'll end up leading others astray.

When dealing with the news, every day you end up trying to balance contradictory aims. When there were rumors about a scandalous relationship between Chou Yu-kou and Huang Yi-chiao, what could have been explained clearly in three minutes was given five minutes in order to satisfy the audience's voyeuristic desires. This relates to another myth about the so-called "right to know." The right to know what? The private and personal? A scandal's lurid details?

It isn't like I haven't been protesting. One of the reasons I left STV was that one of our general managers, who came from Hong Kong, held up the Hong Kong Television program "City Chase" as a model. The show had once reported on Hong Kongers who had mistresses in mainland China. When the news came out, one wife jumped from a building with her child, and the show got very high ratings. He wanted our news to be more sensational, but there was no way I could do that, so I quit.

Resignation or revolution

But a television news worker trying to fight these problems from the inside is throwing straws to the wind. Change has got to come from outside. Except for those who give up television altogether, few people are going to take responsibility on themselves to serve as the "last line of defense." We need to make a living and find working in television news interesting, so the most we're likely to do is grumble every once in a while. And so for the "Taipei Gridlockers" radio show that I host in the mornings on Voice of Taipei, there is a regular segment on observing the media. It combines commentary from scholars and representatives of the press associations, as well as from members of the public, such as mothers who think there is too much violence on television and want to organize a pressure group.

Paul Lee:

When television stations were first set up in Taiwan, the government had control over pretty much all of the content. Television news didn't have a particularly high status in society, and you would see the same faces over and over again on the three stations. Since it was easy to obtain audience share, it wasn't necessary to promote the news. After the number of channels grew, television needed more faces for news broadcasts, and the competition between stations grew. Commercialization isn't a sin, but television news has become a product for which there is great market competition.

The three over-the-air stations were protected from competition for a time, but now the fundamentally commercial nature of television news is clear to see, and with no one to protect you, you must provide for the welfare of the staff and meet your obligations to shareholders. To put it another way, it's all about survival.

News that's not news

Under capitalism, sensationalism is something common to all media: television stations, newspapers and magazines are all facing the same problem. Before the repeal of martial law, the three television stations were very conservative. There were many voices that simply weren't heard. Society wasn't giving them space to air their opinions. Did Taiwan not have lurid incidents to report on back in those days? They have been here all along, but suicides and attempted suicides didn't used to get covered on television. Now we increasingly have no choice but to expose the seamy side of life, because with so many stations, there is greater demand for news.

We have hugely expanded the amount of time we spend on news by simply making news out of stuff that wasn't formerly reported. With so many reporters under pressure to find news, mobile units are reporting live on pig competitions, bank training exercises to prevent violence, and politicians' 50-table birthday banquets. These didn't used to be considered news.

What you see now is a blurred understanding of newsworthiness. The taste of some news professionals leaves something to be desired. The cable stations can be criticized in places, but with fierce competition between many stations, when other stations are all reporting this news and you don't, is that because you are principled or because you've become numb?

At the present time when all the stations are in battle-mode, perhaps they've gotten a little off track or become too commercial. The news environment is constantly changing. From being conservative and closed, to becoming a chaotic free-for-all, television news has always been closely monitored by society; it's just that the standard of the monitors is pretty low, too. We clearly know that we have to face the reality of audience choice. And from audience criticism, we know that society still has mainstream values. The big three stations shouldn't stray too far from the mainstream. But society doesn't want every media outlet to look alike.

The media is at much less of a remove from the public than it used to be. In the past if you called up the media to say you were holding a press conference, no one would have paid any attention. But now, if you want to make your case about some injustice, you have many more opportunities to do so. And the media will cover controversies in small towns and villages.

Not a lie detector

But the media is a reporter, not a lie detector. For instance, what if someone holds a press conference and says that he found cockroaches in a certain company's drink? We may never know how the cockroaches got inside, but we know that our report is going to be bad news for the manufacturer. And later follow-ups and corrections don't mean much. What we need to carefully consider is, should we wait for a clear and carefully examined report, or should we come out with a report right away? By not reporting immediately, we might affect the rights of other consumers; but if the company is a major advertising client, perhaps they will try to use that leverage. It's difficult to deal with this kind of consumer news, because we don't know what's true and what's false.

The more media there is, the more potential for abuse. And what's worse, there are too many media manipulators. It is no longer just the ruling party or the government or public relations firms.

Capitalists form the group in Taiwan that has been least scrutinized by the media, and the capitalist structure is what controls the media. What tremendous sums have been invested in the media over the past six years! It can hardly be that all these investors are philanthropists. We can use standards when covering news to prevent money games from polluting the news reporting process.

p95

Stella Yeh, who has worked for TTV and STV and is now anchor for CTN, hopes to find a television news utopia.

p97

Bright and beautiful, television anchors attract a lot of attention. Having worked in the field for more than a decade, renowned anchor Paul Lee has already transcended the anchor-as-celebrity mindset.

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