What's it like being a reporter in Taiwan?

What's a day in the life of a reporter in Taiwan like, what are the career prospects, and how do you get a job like that as an expat? Asking for a friend.

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I worked for two years at a Taiwanese online newspaper. Even though my title was Reporter/Editor, the majority of my day to day work was spent translating local news published in Chinese into English (about 50%). Not strict translation, but mostly paraphrasing main points of the important articles published by local media. I would say that about 25% of my work was actual direct reporting on events around town, reworking press releases, and/or writing original content based on the usual online gossip, and sensationalism you see on most mainstream media sites. Another 20% was editing the English output from Taiwanese writers on staff who did articles in English. The last 5%, and what I definitely enjoyed the most when I had the opportunity, was writing my own long form opinion pieces/editorials. If I had the option, I would have done those a lot more often, but the nature of the work and the MO from management was basically "quantity over quality."

In all, it was a good job, and it was nice to have a voice that also has an audience. Sometimes, the pressure and politics of the job were frustrating, and the expectations/ demands of the management for increasing output never cease. All that aside though, it was engaging and rewarding work most of the time. If you are interested in Taiwanese politics and journalism, which are extremely interesting and important for the region and world, and if you have decent Mandarin ability, then getting into journalism in Taiwan might be a good choice for you.

The English media landscape in Taiwan is kind of peculiar, and is sort of its own closed eco-system, with a few writers that are connected to the wider international media.Most of the English news companies here are also all piggybacking on larger more well-funded Chinese-language media operations, so English news ends up as more of a sideproject, rather than a priority for a lot of media companies. Another problem with most of the English news outlets in Taiwan is that they are mostly all owned/run by older Taiwanese guys that don't really have a good graspof the current online media environment. And that along with their (typically) limited English ability makes it hard for them to really assess their brand's own strengths and weaknesses, as well as the overall quality/direction of their brand. Obviously I'm speaking in general terms, but I think this observation rings true for most of the Taiwan-based English news outlets operating here. The fact that Taiwan is an afterthought to most big international outlets also contributes to the odd little English news media environment that has developed here.

I honestly think that the news media landscape here could be easily upended if a foreign news corporation had the mind to develop a presence here and was willing to bankroll a small, competent team to get things off the ground.

Anyways, for better or worse, journalism in Taiwan is an interesting industry.

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