TRANSLATION | Eugenia Yang
“People shouldn’t feel indifferent because this is what is happening to Taiwan.”Numbers are mechanical, cold, and perhaps sometimes, ruthless. But on the other end of the numbers is the countless lives that will forever affect the emotions of the families.
A Ghost Town
On May 20th, 2021, Taipei City was empty. Wanhua District? A ghost town. As a reporter and anchorwoman of CTI Television, Canelle Chen received first-hand information that there had been suspected health-care associated infections going on at the Taipei City Hospital Heping Branch. Suppressing her fear of being infected, she still chose to put on her surgical mask and protective goggles properly and arrived at the scene. That day, many reporters and cameramen were there to deliver the most immediate news from the front line to their audience. Yet, civilians passing by filed a complaint for unsafe gatherings. Canelle was confused, because even if the whole city was on lockdown, media workers were not. Of course, at the moment, she didn’t give it much thought and dealt with the problem promptly. They ended up having a representative from each news channel to pass the microphone to the doctor, while reporters stood far away and read their questions out loud. With patience, they finished their interviews by going through each question and answer whilst keeping a safe distance.
On the same day, Canelle visited the area where all the tea parlors in Wanhua are located. Through the window of the car, she saw that there was not one single soul on the street. Due to the confirmed cases, she had to conduct her live interview in the news van. It was the same day she witnessed a completely empty Longshan Temple, a stark contrast to what she saw just a few months ago when the temple was packed with people during Chinese New Year.
After we talked about the pandemic, we discussed the matter of cyber violence. Having worked in the news industry for a respectable time, Canelle is able to maintain this “aloofness” towards the negative comments online. In our society, since a lot of people do not understand what exactly a media worker does, they type away their misinterpretation and attacks behind their screens. A straightforward person, she chooses to respond directly through her social media in the comments section, in the hopes of having a discussion with them. “We stand where we are because we know our position and value.” Through Canelle’s each response, she kept her firm and stood her ground.
Perhaps anxiety, complaints and questionings are not going to be helpful as we try to fight all the online anonymity. But what we can do is overcome the challenges, gather our strength and join forces to make real change with our actions. Facing the difficulties of being a journalist, Canelle chooses to use “action” as her solution: “It is my duty to be the transmitter of information, the discloser of truth and the recorder of history.” Summarizing these three roles, this is the identity of a media worker. From the complex issues of how our world functions to simpler matters like the number of vaccines available, without reporters, no one will know what the society has become. Understanding her sense of purpose is the fuel that keeps Canelle on her feet.
The Ideal of Journalism
It is true that each industry has its downside that most people do not acknowledge. For someone who works in the news industry, it is the considerably low salary and the pressure of meeting deadlines—it is all a race with time to deliver the most accurate information in the shortest amount of time. Canelle urges the people on the internet not to cyberbully and try to look at things with a more diverse, in-depth and accepting manner. Whether it’s about vaccine distribution or other issues, a broader reading of different news materials will help with understanding the current situation.
Back in work mode, her positivity and uplifting attitude never seem to waver. Having bid her farewell to CTI Television after her three years and nine months of stay, she has now switched her path to TVBS. Holding her position as a media worker in the news industry, Canelle Chen will continue to speak for herself and for our society. As summer arrives, the ice is bound to melt and hopefully we will soon see everyone’s smile again, bathing in the summer warmth and shining with newborn brightness.