敲開國際大門──英文報市場硝煙四起

:::

1999 / 5月

文‧滕淑芬 圖‧薛繼光



報禁解除後,台灣的報業在幾年內熱絡起來,由三怳@家大幅增加到二百三怳E家,但這樣的榮景只限於中文報紙,英文報長久以來只有《China News》(英文中國日報)和《 China Post》(英文中國郵報) 兩家。

直到最近,近年來迅速竄起的《自由時報》宣布將發行《Taipei Times》;而本土形象濃厚的義美食品公司也在近日宣布將投資《英文中國日報》新台幣數千萬元,雙方正研議擴張改版,並可能改名為《Taiwan News》。同時,國際知名媒體如《亞洲華爾街日報》、《國際先鋒論壇報》先後在台北印製後,也將一起加入搶奪英文讀者的市場。

然而,近來報業不景氣已是全世界共同現象,國內的自立報系經營權轉移,中央、中華兩家日報也將合併,以精簡人事;國外的《紐約時報》、《洛杉磯時報》去年也分別裁撤數百人。在此非常時期,英文報為什麼逆勢操作?英文報對提高台灣的國際「分貝」有幫助嗎?

誰需要英文資訊?

四萬五千多名想當國小英文老師的人需要,台灣境內三怞h萬名母語不是中文的外勞、外籍人士、觀光客需要,經常來往於國際社區的台商、高科技、高學歷人才需要,想到英語系國家留學的人需要,加上校園內廣大的學生族群,都應該是英文報的潛在讀者。

雖然和中文報紙能吸引百萬讀者相比,英文報市場相對小許多,但業界的人都同意,英文報前景已經比以前好太多,連小學生都要開始學英文了,這個市場只會大不會小。

台灣的經濟、教育、政治水準比東南亞許多國家好,但四怞h年來一直只有《China News 》、《China Post》兩家英文報,市場不能說是蓬勃。

以台灣為分界點

觀察亞洲國家的英文報發展,似乎有南北差異。《英文中國郵報》社長黃致祥表示,如果以台灣畫一條線,台灣以南的國家地區,如香港、新加坡的英文報可說辦得很成功;台灣以北的韓國、日本的英文報就不像東南亞各國那麼繁榮。六百萬人口的香港,就有《南華早報》、《香港虎報》兩家英文報,每日出刊將近一百頁,其中廣告佔一半。

「英文等於是菲律賓的官方語言,新加坡、馬來西亞、香港都曾是英國殖民地,」黃致祥認為,東南亞地區英文報的繁榮和當地長期使用英文的歷史背景有關。

而台灣的兩家英文報雖然都有四怞h年歷史,但創辦初期英文報訴諸的主要讀者是外籍人士,尤其是美軍協防台灣時的大量駐台美軍。

民國三怳K年政府撤退來台,台灣情勢孤立,面對中共威脅、險惡的國際情勢,兩家英文報都是為了「打開國際視聽」而辦。

《英文中國郵報》創辦人黃遹霈、余夢燕夫婦是燕京大學新聞系畢業的高材生,抗戰時期黃遹霈曾任《時事新報》總編輯。來台後,二人一心想辦報,但三怳K年政府頒佈戒嚴令,辦報必須先申請登記證,而當時政府已經停止受理中文報登記。

黃遹霈想既然中文報沒有執照,就問可不可以辦英文報,適時政府也覺得台灣應有一份英文報,郵報就在四怳@年創立,當時的宗旨是「用英文辦報給外國人看」。

走了軍人,來了商人

《英文中國日報》的創辦目的也類似,它的創辦人魏景蒙也是資深新聞人,曾任中央通訊社社長、中國廣播公司總經理,後來轉入政界,曾任新聞局長。

政府遷台後,魏景蒙看到駐台美軍、外國使館人員和外國人士的人數日增,認為有加強溝通的必要,於是在三怳K年先以簡單的油印機,發行小型的英文通訊。

由於與歐美時差關係,報社越晚截稿,越能接收到最新外電,因此《英文中國日報》一直是下午出刊,一方面消息較新,一方面也和另一家英文報的市場有所區隔。一九八八年報禁開放後市場競爭趨烈,現任發行人魏小蒙認為,看早報的讀者較多,才改為早報。

台灣經濟還不算發達的五、六怞~代,英文報經營得相當辛苦。「中美斷交後,美軍撤守,大家都說郵報要垮了,」接辦父母事業的《英文中國郵報》社長黃致祥說,「但走了軍人,來了商人,隨著台灣經濟起飛,郵報雖然不是很賺錢,至少帳面上沒有虧損。」

近年來,台灣學英文風氣大盛,《英文中國郵報》率先創立開數較小的雙語學生報,爾後《英文中國日報》也加入吸引學生族群的戰場,二報都經營得頗為成功。

為國際化打先鋒

民國七怳誚~戒嚴解除,報紙登記隨即開放,到了八怳T年,台灣報紙家數大量增加到二百多家,但囿於市場太小、英文編採人才難找,少有人想辦英文報,直到今年初這個局面才被打破。

曾任自立、中時等多家報社的資深記者司馬文武,目前身兼《新新聞周報》董事長、《台灣日報》發行人,在報業一片不景氣聲中,他又多了一項新頭銜──《英文台北時報》發行人兼總編輯。

新聞界很多人都知道辦英文報是司馬文武念茲在茲的夢想,怞h年來他到處遊說企業界、文化界、新聞界辦英文報,寫過五次企劃書,屢仆屢起,每次都功敗垂成,不是沒錢就是沒人。

這次好不容易《自由時報》老闆林榮三願意投資合作,一方面提昇《自由時報》形象進軍國際,一方面「為台灣講話,」司馬文武指出,國際上討論兩岸問題經常從美國、歐洲觀點,而目前放眼世界各地的華人社會,只有台灣有充分新聞自由、空間來討論台灣、中國問題,甚至亞洲問題。

《英文台北時報》社長李長貴也說,辦英文報是為了幫台灣「出一口氣」,要藉助英文媒體「把台灣帶到國際,把國際帶到台灣,」而中文報就沒有這個功能。

「中國」在台灣?

司馬文武一再強調,「台灣講國際化講了多少年,連一份夠水準的英文報紙都沒有,如何國際化?」他了解早先創辦的兩家英文報有其歷史傳統,但都以「中國」為名,「國際社會怎麼知道你代表誰?」尤其大陸的英文報也叫做《英文中國日報 China Daily》 ,更容易令人混淆。

原來這份新英文報想以「台灣」為名,但Taiwan Daily 已經先被《台灣日報》用了,後來司馬文武想想,以「台北」為名可能更好。國際知名報紙如《紐約時報》、《華盛頓郵報》都以所在的都市為名,而國際航線、國際新聞中的氣象預報、股市行情也都以台北為代表,這個名字反而更響亮,政治性也比較低。

針對報紙名稱可能引起中國、台灣的混淆,《英文中國日報》發行人魏小蒙認為,「改名不是沒有可能。」兩年前本土企業義美食品公司挹注資金,成為《英文中國日報》的最大股東;近期內他們可能將改名為《Taiwan News》(英文台灣新聞),以拉近和讀者的關係。

然而《英文中國郵報》卻不同意因為名稱會被誤認為是對岸報紙的說法。「媒體角色是收集資訊、傳遞資訊,」黃致祥說,現在名字已經被讀者認同那麼久了,沒什麼不好,何況「身為新聞人,就要把包袱、黨派、省籍、政治上的牽掛留在報社外頭。」他開玩笑說,如果「中國」會讓人誤以為是大陸的媒體或企業,那麼中國時報、中國鋼鐵、中國人壽等公司,是不是都要改名?

一將難求

涉及政治,不免見仁見智。不過,「英文報確實應該是外籍人士了解台灣事務的主要資訊來源,」一家英文報記者說,他雖任職其中但仍得說,目前台灣的兩家英文報的表現都不夠「稱職」。

他舉例,國際新聞的編輯選擇原則感覺是「有新聞放上去就好」;國內新聞也沒有自己特色,除了少數新聞由自己記者撰稿,常常只是將中文報紙的新聞翻成英文,「一起打迷糊仗」,讀者也分不清兩家報紙有何差別,「不是能在國際上代表台灣的英文報。」這位記者說。

現正積極籌備出刊的《英文台北時報》採訪主任米杰敏在台多年,曾任台北國際社區電台(ICRT)記者,他分析,台灣英文媒體的普遍問題是人力不夠,以ICRT為例,雖不是新聞台,但每天也有整點新聞,然而六位記者做出來的報導,根本不能反映台灣現況。

要辦好英文報,除了需要龐大資金,人才也是關鍵。記者的語文能力為第一條件,要能以中英文採訪撰稿,還要熟悉當地事務、人脈,英文報對人才要求的標準其實比中文報還高。

在美國住了二怞h年,為海外怞h家中文報紙撰稿,半年前回國擔任《英文中國日報》總編輯的阮次山說,英文報最大問題正是「一將難求」。

英文人才荒

解決辦報資金問題後,司馬文武把「台灣的英文人才翻一遍」,他希望《Taipei Times》能加強財經新聞的報導,但他發現懂英文的財經人才都去賺錢了,不願當記者。同時讓他失望的是,台灣每年到國外念新聞的人那麼多,但大多念理論,少念實務,因為「不敢硬碰硬」。

國外記者再有天大本領,如果不了解台灣、不了解文化差異,到了這裡也是英雄無用武之地,所以司馬文武認為,記者一定要是本地人。而負責潤稿、下標題、版面編排的編輯就可以借用外籍兵團,各家英文報的編輯部都像個小小聯合國,有來自加拿大、英美澳洲等英語系國家的人才。

報紙聲譽的建立非一蹴可幾,知名的香港《南華早報》、新加坡《海峽時報》已有百年歷史,但說來其實都是英國人辦起來的。

《海峽時報》駐台記者程翔說,在新加坡中、英、馬來文三種語文的報紙中,《海峽時報》的發行量一直比其他兩種語文的報紙高,因為新加坡是多語文族群組成的國家,英國又曾經是統治者,英文自然成為所有族群的「共同語言」。

他指出,還沒有看到華人世界自己辦英文報成功的例子。他所謂的「成功」,指的是不需要靠政治勢力、財團補貼,只憑內容吸引讀者,靠發行、廣告自負盈虧。

但這真的不容易做到,要看當地英文的普及度有多高?以台灣來說,英文作為一種日常溝通語文的普遍性,就比香港、新加坡低太多,市場如何大得起來?

小兵立大功

不過,市場分析一向有樂觀、悲觀兩派,國際媒體就不看壞亞洲的英文報市場。八怳誚~底《亞洲華爾街日報》來台印製,今年三月《國際先鋒論壇報》也選定台北為亞洲地區的第六個印製點。

《國際先鋒論壇報》亞洲區總經理歐金斯樂觀地表示,《國際先鋒論壇報》鎖定的讀者是經常在世界各地洽公的「全球族」,這個階級的人在台灣也越來越多。

何況,台灣今年一月廢除出版法,他們站在新聞自由的立場上當然應該支持,至於亞洲金融風暴造成的市場低迷,他們的評估是,反而對擴張市場有利。因此將在亞洲投資四百萬美金設置新的印報地點,以提早印刷時間,台北、雅加達都是今年三月前推動的據點。

英文報本來不是大眾媒體,只是小量發行,司馬文武說,他的期待不會太多,初期《英文台北時報》的發行有二、三萬份就可以了。不過,即使是小量發行,司馬文武認為,英文報還是要有自己的新聞觀點。

這方面,他認為《英文台北時報》較具優勢,因為可以藉助《自由時報》足夠的記者資源,不會漏掉大新聞,他們才能把時間花在新聞背景的提供與分析上。在他的規劃中,包括聽證會、解密的外交檔案、名人的訪問稿、演講等,都會登出來。

尋找利基

《英文中國日報》總編輯阮次山也同意,「要給讀者中文報沒有的新聞,才是『險中求勝』的策略,」他舉例,美國卸任總統卡特來訪時,他們一連五天討論「中美關係法」就是嘗試的第一步。

在國際新聞方面,英文報主要靠的還是外電,但「依賴外電,沒有自己特色,肯定會吃虧,」程翔說,《海峽時報》在美國許多大都市與東京、北京、台北、東南亞國家的首都都派駐記者。

《亞洲華爾街日報》在亞洲就有怳限茪尷嚏B六怞h位記者;《國際先鋒論壇報》除了採用《紐約時報》、《華盛頓郵報》的特稿,本身也有一百多位記者分駐世界各地。

司馬文武表示,他們也希望能在各主要國家部署特派員,但是目前沒有這樣的人力資源,現階段的作法是,和各地的特約記者合作,遇到有如印尼暴動、與歐洲的馬其頓共和國建交等和台灣相關的新聞,就會請他們撰稿。

《英文中國郵報》副總編輯陳信夫則表示,他們外電的來源其實相當廣泛,除了大通訊社,還有《洛杉磯時報》、《華盛頓郵報》的新聞,新聞觀點很多元。

英文報市場競爭的白熱化,有助於國際社會更了解台灣嗎?這個問題恐怕不是一年半載可以回答的,可以肯定的是,最大贏家將是對閱讀英文有興趣的讀者。

P.91

英文報市場已進入白熱化階段,由《自由時報》投資的《Taipei Times》即將創刊,宛如聯合國大軍的編輯部正緊鑼密鼓備戰。

P.92

「隨著台灣國際化腳步,英文報市場會跟著成長,」《英文中國郵報》發行人黃致祥說。

P.93

接任父親魏景蒙事業的《英文中國日報》發行人魏小蒙拿出紀念父親逝世週年特刊,述說早年創刊經過。

P.94

《國際先鋒論壇報》三月正式來台印製,亞洲區總經理歐金斯說,亞洲金融風暴影響雖大,卻也正是投資亞洲的最好時機。

P.97

台灣境內數抶U名外勞帶來不少商機,成為英文報的大客戶,台北市聖克里斯多福教堂前的人行道上,每到假日就有人來此擺設英文報攤。

相關文章

近期文章

EN

Paper Chase- The Competition Heats Up for Taiwan's English Readers

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


With the end of martial law in 1987, the ban on new newspapers was lifted. In the following years, the industry turned red hot, with the number of papers rising from 31 to 239. But the boom was restricted to Chinese-language papers. As before, there were only two English papers: the China News and the China Post.

It wasn't until earlier this year that the Chinese-language Liberty Times, which has made rapid gains in readership in recent years, announced plans to establish the English-language Taipei Times. Meanwhile, I-Mei, a food company with a strong Taiwanese identity, has recently invested several tens of millions of NT dollars to buy the lion's share of the China News. The paper and I-Mei are looking into expansion plans and may change the paper's name to the Taiwan News. The Asian Wall Street Journal and International Herald Tribune, both renowned English-language papers distributed internationally, have also entered the competition for English readers in Taiwan by deciding to print here.

These recent moves have come despite hard times for newspapers worldwide. Here in Taiwan the Independence Post group has changed ownership, and the Central Daily News and China Daily News have merged and cut staff. Overseas, major papers such as the New York Times and Los Angeles Times have laid off hundreds of workers. Why are English-language newspapers in Taiwan bucking this trend? And will they help to raise Taiwan's profile abroad?

Who needs English-language news in Taiwan?

Here's who: 45,000 aspiring elementary school English teachers; 300,000 citizens of other nations, including foreign workers and tourists, whose mother tongue is not Chinese; those frequent flyers who often deal with foreigners, such as Taiwanese businessmen, holders of advanced degrees or people who work in high-tech fields; as well as many students and those planning on attending universities in English-speaking nations. All are potential readers of these publications.

Although the market for English papers in Taiwan is small in comparison to the millions of readers of Chinese-language papers, people in the field agree that the future for English-language papers here looks much brighter than the past. With even elementary school kids studying English, the market can only grow.

While Taiwan's economy, educational system and level of democracy have long been superior to those of Southeast Asian nations, for 40 years the only English papers here have been the China News and China Post. The field could hardly be described as thriving.

North-south divide

English-language papers in Asia have developed according to two separate north-south models. Jack Huang, publisher and chairman of the China Post, notes that to the south of Taiwan, in Hong Kong and Singapore, English papers have been very successful, whereas those to the north in Korea and Japan have not fared nearly so well. In Hong Kong, with a population of only 6 million, there are two English papers, the South China Morning Post and Hong Kong Standard, which run to about 100 pages a day, half devoted to advertising.

"In the Philippines English is the language of government, and Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong were all British colonies." Huang holds that the long-term use of English in those nations is a key reason English-language newspapers have flourished there.

Although Taiwan's two English newspapers each have more than 40 years of history, their targeted readership has changed dramatically. In their early years, they appealed almost exclusively to foreigners, especially to the American troops posted here when the United States was participating in Taiwan's defense.

In 1949, when the ROC government fled here from the mainland, Taiwan became a lonely isle bulwark against communist China. In those precarious times, the two English-language papers were founded with the idea of "opening international eyes and ears."

Y.P. Huang and Nancy Huang, the husband and wife who founded the China Post, were elite students and graduates of Beijing University's journalism department. During the war against Japan, Y.P. Huang had served as editor-in-chief of the Chinese-language Shishi Xinbao. After coming to Taiwan, the Huangs longed to open a paper, but martial law regulations introduced in 1949 required that all new papers obtain government permits, and these were no longer being issued for Chinese-language papers by the time the Huangs applied.

Under the circumstances, they thought, why not just go ahead and start an English paper? With the government in agreement that Taiwan needed an English paper, they established the China Post in 1952 with the stated purpose of "using English to give foreigners a paper to read."

Soldiers leave, businessmen come

The China News had a similar founding aim. Its first publisher James Wei was also a senior newsman. He had held the jobs of vice chairman of the Central News Agency and president of the Broadcasting Corporation of China before moving into government and serving as director of the Government Information Office.

When the government moved to Taiwan, Wei saw the numbers of American forces posted on the island and the foreign diplomatic corps and other foreigners increasing by the day, and thought there was a need for more channels of communication. He started in 1949 by publishing just a small mimeographed newsletter. With the time difference with Europe and America, the newspaper was able to publish much more foreign news by coming out later, and so throughout this period the China News was published in the afternoon. Apart from allowing it to print later-breaking international news, being an afternoon paper also allowed it to stake out a separate niche in the English-reading market from the China Post. It wasn't until 1988, when the lifting of restrictions on the formation of new papers launched a new era of intense competition, that Wei's daughter Simone switched to morning publication in the belief that there were more readers of morning papers.

In the 1960s and 1970s, it was very difficult to operate an English paper in Taiwan. "After the United States switched recognition to the PRC and the American military left, everyone said that the China Post would fold," says Jack Huang, who took over the paper from his parents. "The soldiers left, but businessmen came in the wake of Taiwan's economic take-off. Although the Post hasn't made a lot of money, at least it's been in the black."

In recent years English study has been all the rage in Taiwan, and the China Post has come out with a bilingual weekly supplement for students. The China News has followed suit, and now both papers' student supplements, which are also available by separate subscription, are faring well.

Making Taiwan more international

After the end of martial law in 1987, the number of papers grew, so that by 1994 there were more than 200 in all. But because of the small English readership and the difficulty in finding English editorial staff, few people have thought of opening English-language papers, and it wasn't until this year that the News and Post's hold over the market was challenged.

Amid all the talk about tough times for newspapers, Antonio Chiang, a senior journalist who has worked on the Independent Post and China Times and is now the chairman of the Journalist and publisher of the Taiwan Times, has acquired yet another title: publisher and editor-in-chief of the English-language Taipei Times.

Within the field, it has long been known that Chiang has yearned to start an English paper. For more than a decade he has been buttonholing entrepreneurs and people working in media and cultural fields to talk about creating one. Five times he submitted formal proposals, only to find that his plans couldn't get off the ground for one reason or another: if there wasn't a lack of money, then there was a lack of personnel.

This time around, Lin Jung-san, the owner of the Liberty Times, was willing to put up the money. He wanted both to boost the Liberty Times' image and to "speak on Taiwan's behalf." Chiang points out that cross-strait relations are usually discussed internationally from an American or European perspective. Currently, Taiwan is the only Chinese society in the world with true freedom of the press and the latitude for frank discussion of issues relating to China and Taiwan or, for that matter, even Asian issues in general.

C.K. Lee, the Taipei Times president, says the paper will aim to help Taiwan "stand up and speak its mind" in the international community, using English "both to take Taiwan to the world and bring the world to Taiwan." Chinese papers just don't serve this function.

"China" in Taiwan?

Antonio Chiang stresses time and again: "Taiwan has been talking about becoming more international for many years, but how can it do this without a quality English paper?" He acknowledges that the two current papers have their history and traditions, but points out that they both have "China" in their titles: "How is the international community to know whom you represent?" Since the mainland's English paper is named the China Daily, it is easy to see how foreigners would be confused.

Originally, the plan was to put "Taiwan" in the new paper's title, but the Taiwan Daily is already the English name of a Chinese-language paper. Then Chiang began to think that perhaps "Taipei" would be better after all, since great papers abroad, such as the New York Times and Washington Post, usually have cities in their titles and because international air routes, weather reports, and stock market reports all use Taipei as well. He concluded that "Taipei Times" had an even better ring to it and fewer political connotations.

In regard to potential confusion about whether the China News is from mainland China or Taiwan, its publisher Simone Wei says that "changing the name is not out of the question." Two years ago I-Mei Enterprises, a food manufacturer with a strong Taiwanese identity, invested to become the paper's largest shareholder. In the near future, they may change the paper's name to Taiwan News, so as to foster greater intimacy with their readers.

The China Post, however, takes issue with the notion that its name may confuse people into thinking that it is a mainland paper. "The role of the media," says the Post's Huang, "is to gather news and transmit information." Readers have been recognizing the paper under this name for a long time, says Huang, who holds that there's nothing wrong with the name. Anyway, Huang continues, aren't journalists supposed to "leave all the baggage relating to politics, party and provincial origin outside their paper"? He jokes that if the word "China" can lead people to the misconception that these papers are mainland media outlets, then does that mean that the Chinese-language China Times and such major Taiwan corporations as China Steel and China Life Insurance should also change their names?

Good journalists are hard to find

When it comes to politics, everyone is going to have their own viewpoint. In any case, "English papers are foreigners' main source of news about Taiwan," remarks a reporter at one of the currently publishing English papers, who admits that neither of the two does a very good job. The international news editors, for instance, work under the principle that "just slapping on any copy is good enough," he says. And there is little character to their local coverage. Apart from a few articles written by their own staffs, most of their local news coverage is simply translated from the Chinese-language press "without really any understanding of what is going on." And readers find it hard to discern any substantial difference between the two papers. "They can't serve as the English-language papers that represent Taiwan on the international stage."

James Mitchell, news editor of the Taipei Times, was once a reporter for ICRT (International Community Radio, Taiwan). In his analysis, the main problem with English media in Taiwan is that there is a shortage of personnel. He cites ICRT. Although it isn't a news station, it does have news on the hour. But with only six reporters, its news can't adequately reflect the current situation in Taiwan.

Aside from money, staff is another essential for a good English paper. The first priority is finding reporters with sufficient language abilities. They've got to be comfortable in gathering news and writing copy in both Chinese and English, and they've got to be familiar with current events in Taiwan and have good contacts. The demands made on reporters at English papers in Taiwan are indeed greater than those made on reporters at Chinese papers.

"A good man is hard to find," says Anthony Yuen, who lived in America for 20 years and wrote for over 10 Chinese-language papers there before returning to Taiwan half a year ago to become editor-in-chief and vice president of the China News.

A lack of English-language personnel

After solving the problem of financial backing, Antonio Chiang has been "turning things upside down looking for talented English personnel." He wants the Taipei Times to have strong financial reporting, but has discovered that finance types with good English skills are all after big money and are unwilling to work as reporters. He has also been disappointed to find that although many students go abroad to study journalism every year, most study theory instead of taking practically oriented coursework, because they are scared to test their news gathering skills in an English environment.

Foreign reporters, no matter how good, will waste their talent here without an understanding of Taiwan and its cultural differences. Chiang, therefore, insists that reporters be locals. Times staff responsible for editing copy, writing headlines and laying out the pages, on the other hand, will be foreigners. Indeed, the editorial departments of English-language papers here all resemble small United Nations with personnel from Canada, the United States, Britain, Australia and other English-speaking nations.

A newspaper's reputation is not made overnight. The renowned South Morning China Post of Hong Kong and Straits Times of Singapore each have more than a century of history. But the fact is that both these papers were founded by Brits.

Ching Cheong, the Straits Times correspondent in Taiwan, says that the Straits Times has always had greater prestige and a higher circulation than Chinese- and Malay-language newspapers in Singapore because that city state is a multilingual, multi-ethnic society that was formerly a British colony. English naturally became the "lingua franca" spoken between ethnic groups.

He says that he has yet to see an example of a successful English paper founded by Chinese. He defines success for a paper as not needing to exert political influence or obtain financial subsidies, but rather being able to rely wholly on content to attract readers that in turn attract advertisers, and thus keep afloat by its own efforts. This isn't easy to do, Ching argues. It depends largely on the standard and pervasiveness of English in a given society. In Taiwan, English is used much less in every day life than it is in Hong Kong or Singapore, so is the market here large enough?

Small in size, large in contribution

While there are positive and negative analyses of the potential market for English papers here, it should be noted that international media outlets seem to fall among the optimists. Two years ago, the Asian Wall Street Journal began printing in Taiwan, and in March of this year the International Herald Tribune joined them, making Taipei its sixth printing location in Asia.

Nigel Oakins, the International Herald Tribune's managing director for Asia, is confident about the paper's prospects in Taiwan: The International Herald Tribune targets the "globetrotters" who live in various communities around the world. Taiwan has more and more of this sort of person. Furthermore, in January of this year Taiwan did away with its restrictive publishing law, a move the Tribune supports from the standpoint of press freedom. As for the Asian economic crisis, the paper views it simply as a good opportunity to expand market share, spending US$4 million on printing plants in Taipei and Jakarta so as to speed up delivery times. Both plants became operational in March.

English papers in Taiwan have always had small circulations, and Antonio Chiang says that his expectations aren't overly ambitious: if the Taipei Times can reach a circulation of 20,000-30,000 in its early years, that will be good enough.

Yet Chiang believes that English papers should have a distinctive point of view even if their circulations are small.

In this respect, he believes that the Taipei Times will be more effective because it can make use of the ample news-gathering resources of the Liberty Times. The Taipei Times won't miss any big news stories and can spend its time providing news background and analysis. Legislative hearings, secret diplomacy, and interviews with and speeches by the famous, he says, will all get space.

Finding a market niche

Anthony Yuen, the editor-in-chief of the China News, agrees: "Trying to give readers news that doesn't appear in Chinese-language papers is a strategy of trying to 'snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.'" He cites the five-part series about ROC-US relations they ran when former US president Jimmy Carter came to Taiwan.

As far as international news is concerned, the English papers still largely rely on wire services, but "by relying on wire copy, you'll lack any special quality of your own, and will definitely lose out," says Ching Cheong. Ching notes that the Straits Times has its own correspondents in the major American cities as well as Tokyo, Beijing, Taipei and the capitals of Southeast Asian nations. The Asian Wall Street Journal has 15 bureaus in Asia with more than 60 reporters, and the International Herald Tribune, apart from publishing reports from the New York Times and Washington Post, also has more than 100 of its own reporters located around the world.

Antonio Chiang says the Taipei Times also hopes to post reporters in various nations around the world, but right now they don't have those kind of resources. To start, they're going to establish relations with freelance reporters around the world who can work as stringers, providing copy when news breaks relating to Taiwan, such as anti-Chinese riots in Indonesia or Macedonia's decision to establish relations with the ROC.

Paul Chen, deputy editor-in-chief of the China News, notes that they carry not only the major wire services but also syndicated articles from the Los Angeles Times and the Washington Post. Thus they have access to many different perspectives on the news.

Will growing competition in the English-language newspaper market help the international community to understand Taiwan better? It's not a question that offers a quick and easy answer. One thing is for certain though: this competition's biggest winners are readers of English-language papers.

p.91

Competition in the English-language newspaper market is heating up, with the Taipei Times, backed by the Chinese-language Liberty Times, about to hit the stands. Its editorial department, which looks like a miniature United Nations, is getting ready for the coming battle.

p.92

"As Taiwan becomes more international, the market for English newspapers is sure to grow," says Jack Huang, the publisher of the China Post.

p.93

As she describes the paper's early years, China News publisher Simone Wei pulls out the special commemorative issue that honored her father, the paper's founder, at his passing.

p.94

The International Herald Tribune began to print in Taiwan in March. Nigel Oakins, the paper's managing director for Asia, says that the Asian economic crisis's biggest impact on the paper has been to provide an opportune time to invest.

p.97

The several hundred thousand foreign workers in Taiwan create many business opportunities and comprise a large share of the readership of English newspapers. On holidays, English periodical hawkers gather on the sidewalk in front of St. Christopher's Church in Taipei.

X 使用【台灣光華雜誌】APP!
更快速更方便!