Political Communications in Democratic Taiwan: The Relationship between Politicians and Journalists
2015-02-24T11:48:39Z (GMT) by
This article assesses the present state of political communications in Taiwan through a close analysis of the perceived relationship between journalists and politicians. This relationship is examined within the context of media commercialization. Based on the assumption that in cultures of democratic political communication the interaction between media and political actors involves both conflict and cooperation, we consider how journalists and politicians negotiate the balance of power between them. The empirical evidence gathered from semistructured interviews for this article suggests that the interaction between media and political elites in Taiwan is defined by high levels of conflict, hostility, mutual suspicion, and mistrust—attributes of a relationship that can have profound implications for the legitimacy and efficacy of institutions, actors, and political communications in a newly created democratic system. The article explains the evidence through the perspective of the “knowledge deficit model” that operates within the context of media commercialization. This indicates that the perceptions (of the public, journalists, and politicians) of the formal aspects of democracy may have been transformed, but the nuances that define the application of democratic norms (the practice of responsible journalism) remain ambiguous. More importantly, huge market pressures and the widely accepted media logic, coupled with the democratic knowledge deficit, are creating a vicious cycle in the practice of political communication in Taiwan. This perhaps provides some tentative explanation for the brisk deterioration of expectations about democracy and the media’s role in it, as well as the quality of democratic political communication in Taiwan.