The impact of Taiwanese journalism during the COVID-19 pandemic

Due to the rejection from WHO, Taiwanese journalists have different ways to get news about COVID-19

Huang JeBin
Journalist Huang JeBin. Pei-Ying Chang/Toronto Observer

With Taiwan being geographically closer to China, the country has done a great job of controlling the COVID-19 outbreaks — without the help of the World Health Organization (WHO).

As COVID-19 hit the world, the question of Taiwan joining WHO has become an urgent and sensitive topic worldwide. WHO blocked Taiwan as a member because China considers it one of its provinces.

During WHO’s virtual meeting in May, Taiwan was supported by 14 countries to participate in the World Health Assembly (WHA). However, an objection was raised by Beijing, forcing the “one China” principle as a condition of becoming a member state.

Since Taiwan didn’t accept the condition, the WHO responded that only the member states can decide the invitation and do not have the mandate to invite.

Read more about why WHO reject Taiwan in COVID-19 pademic:

Journalism in Taiwan during COVID-19

To be on the receiving end of the latest medical resources and information, Taiwan hasn’t given up the effort to join the WHO. Until then, according to, Huang JeBin, a columnist at Taiwan’s CommonWealth Magazine, the people of Taiwan rely on foreign news outlets like The Wall Street Journal and New York Times to access data and information about COVID-19.

Although the country’s removal from the WHO has stopped Taiwanese journalists from receiving direct information, it has not impacted their pandemic reporting.

Huang was working at the coffee shop before the interview. Photo by Pei-Ying Chang. 

 “The quality and the quantity of news in Taiwan weren’t influenced by the international isolation, but WHO’s reaction of Taiwan brought up the topic across from health to politics and related to media journalism,” JeBin said in an in-person interview with The Toronto Observer in June.

“Media journalism is the specific bridge to gel Taiwanese society and increase the ethnic identity throughout the pandemic,” said JeBin. “Even the political repression from China is no longer fresh for Taiwanese, but the pandemic is the opportunity to raise the awareness about the transparency and freedom of the press” said JeBin.

How will the pandemic impact on Taiwanese future journalism?

As the coronavirus wears on, the pandemic has upended the operation of media industries.

JeBin said that the digitalization of news had been accelerated by COVID-19. Media companies no longer relying on advertising revenue. The traditional media model will gradually become an issue.

A laptop is the only tool Huang needs to do his work. Photo by Pei-Ying Chang.

“News media with niche content would take the future market instead of large media company, only the industries that can sense the danger and vulnerability of the media environment have the ability to adapt to the situation,” JeBin said.

According to JeBin, “attacking, monitoring, and controlling the media destroys the credibility overtime” but niche content provides news independency, deeper analysis and a unique angle which could not be created under the controlled of politics.

“Society trust is becoming a large challenge for journalism worldwide. We have to play as a useful role in democratic informative society, that’s the goal we have to reach in the future,” said JeBin. “Without the trust, there is no need for journalism to exist.”

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Posted: Jul 6 2020 3:53 pm
Filed under: COVID-19 Features Living Room Newsroom News