Voicing Out and Building Bridges
Encouraging public access to the media has always been a core value at PTS, and in April 2007 we implemented this concept through People Post (PeoPo) – Taiwan Citizen Journalism Platform (www.peopo.org). Great numbers of Taiwanese citizens and various independent groups have been making good use of PeoPo’s ultra-friendly and innovative Web2.0 platform, ensuring a vast cross spectrum of media content.
Giving the power and control back to the people has encouraged them to voice out on important environmental and topical issues, creating a platform of multi-faceted debate and discussion in Taiwan's civil society.
Taiwan Citizen Journalism Platform has already attracted over 2,357 citizen journalists, including 130 NGO / NPO / EDU organizations, and accumulated over 20,455 topical news reports, 7,850 of which include a video report. Ever since the service was launched, the platform has attracted a monthly average of 270 thousand hits, which browse over an average of 179 thousand pages.
In 2008, as the content of Taiwan Citizen Journalism Platform began showing more maturity, there began a flood of interest and attention – as well as actual usage - from domestic and foreign media organizations. TBS news channel, for example, has cumulatively made use of more than 256 PeoPo news reports. Moreover, after domestic associations, such as ‘Civil Media’, ‘Community Empowerment Society’, and community colleges recognized the concept of PeoPo’s news platform, they began to take the initiative in circulating news stories to develop grassroots media, and the power of civil society.
PeoPo has deepened the development of Taiwan's democratic society through activities such as the 2008 Presidential Election TV Debate, which was jointly organized by PTS, CNA, Apple Daily, Liberty Times, China Times, and United Daily News. Citizens were asked to upload their questions onto the PeoPo platform, after which some citizens were invited to attend the actual candidates' televised debate; a big step forward in direct democracy in Taiwan.
In this election, citizens no longer just passively voted, but actively voiced out, demanding candidates respond to the aspirations of the people. Citizens used cameras, video cameras and mobile phones to shoot a question of 30 seconds or less and upload it onto the PeoPo platform, directly asking the candidates about their viewpoint on ruling the country.
A total of 456 questions were uploaded onto the platform, from which 20 were selected for submission. On the day before the debate, these 20 citizens were coached in questioning skills and timing, while at the same time familiarizing themselves with studio broadcasting operations.
This gave citizens the rare opportunity of obtaining a direct response from a presidential candidate! Allowing citizens to upload video questions, has not only brought Taiwan into the international arena, but also made a real breakthrough in presidential TV election debates. Inviting citizens to submit online video questions to candidates has opened up endless possibilities for the future of airing public opinion in Taiwan.
In addition to providing a network platform, PeoPo also offers many real activities and services. In April 2008, the PeoPo Citizen Journalism Forum was held and in July of the same year a gathering of citizen journalists was organized. During that summer, citizen journalism training camps were held in Taiwan's northern, central, southern, and eastern areas. Following on from this, a total of 10 universities established a Citizen Journalist Press Centre. From the establishment of these centers it was hoped that students would be encouraged to show greater concern for the community when off campus, report on local issues, and help integrate people from all parts of Taiwan.
Of course in order to equip students with the ability to begin sharing regional points of view and airing grassroots opinions, they received professional journalism courses and training. In December, PeoPo collaborated with ‘The Foundation for Excellent Journalism Award’ to raise ‘PeoPo Citizen Journalism Awards’, encouraging citizen journalists on the outstanding reports of 2008. These awards were also an pportunity for PeoPo to give some important feedback to Taiwan's civil society.
Perhaps even more important than providing technology and equipment, the PTS PeoPo platform also provides citizen journalists the opportunity to learn through emulation and observation. Through the promotion of over 183 educational training courses and face-to-face teaching, PTS has endeavored to unleash the independent thinking and creative freedom of Taiwanese citizens. We strongly believe that combining PTS’s human resources and media experience with community organizations is one of public television’s most important services to civil society.
PeoPo is a new phenomenon in Taiwan’s public media that focuses entirely on citizen journalism. Internationally speaking, such examples are rarely seen, and Taiwan’s PeoPo platform has become a much enquired about area from international media organizations. For example, at the annual meetings of Commonwealth Broadcasting Association (CBA), PBI, UNESCO, Japan's NHK, IIC International Radio and Television Organization, PTS was invited to attend and share its experience of PeoPo’s citizen journalism platform.
Subsequent to PTS general manager’s attendance at PBI (Public Broadcasters International) Conference in France, the French newspaper La Province reported on PeoPo’s development of citizen journalism, spreading the platform’s international reputation. At the end of 2008, PeoPo was one of the finalists at NHK’s Japan Prize for educational media, and in the same year took first prize in Taiwan’s ‘The Non-profit Organizations Interactive Network Award’, a fine result for all the hard work from citizen journalists.
PeoPo is a milestone in the development of public television, and also one of its core services. In comparison to television program production, PeoPo is allocated only fraction of the funding, but has clearly proved to be a service of infinitely greater value to the public. Everyone involved has great expectations that PeoPo can become the foremost example of Chinese-language citizen journalism, a rich source of grassroots citizen news, and a benchmark for the development of international citizen journalism emulated by all. The realization of this common vision can only be achieved through our continued collaboration and unwavering effort.