Taiwan's English-language media gets more digital

Taiwan News cover

This week saw two significant changes to Taiwan’s English-language newspapers. The first was the announcement by the Taiwan News on Tuesday that it would cease publishing a print edition and only be available online.

The paper, established in 1949 as the China News, changed its name to Taiwan News after it was purchased by the I-Mei Corporation in 1999. In January 2008 it changed from a broadsheet to a tabloid format. The final issue was published today. Here’s a quote from the Taiwan News’ own report:

During a press conference yesterday, Taiwan News President Jack Wong announced that the 62-year old newspaper is going digital.

“The unthinkable is finally upon us,” said Wong. “On Tuesday, Sept. 28, Taiwan News will launch the previously impossible integration of text, color images, and sound in a digital multimedia format. It will be the world’s first and log-on is for free.”

In response to the recent global trend toward digital publishing, Taiwan News has switched to an all-online format. “The whole world will witness an electronic newspaper that leaves all others behind in its digital technology and multi-media capabilities,” added Wong.

Unfortunately what I have seen of the Taiwan News multimedia format so far has left me unimpressed. The url www.etaiwannews.com currently leads to a Flash page complete with pictures of women inviting you to “Touch Me Please!” After watching a painful animation of the woman dancing you can finally reach the online version of the newspaper. It is all in Flash complete with background music.

That is just the start of the problems. The Flash website doesn’t allow you to link to specific articles. New articles aren’t being indexed by Google News. A search for taiwan  source:etaiwan_news on Google News shows articles dated up to 26 September. However clicking through to those articles redirects to a Flash page. (A clumsy work around if you really need to see the article is to change the www.etaiwannews.com in the url to www.taiwannews.com.tw.) Updated news content now seems to be available on the conventional style website at  www.taiwannews.com.tw/etn/index_en.php.

I contacted Taiwan News by e-mail and they responded saying that they were working on fixing some of the problems. At the time of writing this article many of the problems don’t seem to have been resolved. In becoming an online only publication it has made its content less accessible and difficult to find via search engines. The Taiwan News publishes some excellent editorials. It would be a shame for them to come to an end.

Taipei Times new website

Another of Taiwan’s English-language newspapers has also made some changes. The Taipei Times has finally updated the design of its website, which had undergone only minor changes since it was launched way back in 1999. The new website has a simple, uncluttered format and is fast to load. It is definitely an improvement on the older version.

Last year in a post on the Taipei Times tenth anniversary I noted the failure of the Taipei Times and Taiwan’s English-language media more generally to embrace social media. The Taipei Times features section now has Facebook and Twitter accounts, but its engagement in the social media sphere is still very limited. While at least the Taipei Times now has a website that loads quickly it still merely duplicates the content of the newspaper that is published once every 24 hours.

13 Replies to “Taiwan's English-language media gets more digital”

  1. > While at least the Taipei Times now has a website that loads quickly it still merely duplicates the content of the newspaper that is published once every 24 hours.

    True, but I know of no other newspaper that lets you read all its content online the previous evening, before midnight, long before you can physically buy the paper.

  2. Klaus, actually The Age in Australia, which I read regularly puts all its content for the next day online at midnight Australian Eastern time. I am sure there are others that do it. I feel the problem is that by restricting itself to publishing once a day, the Taipei Times misses a chance to publish news as it breaks and gain more traffic. However, I suspect that the Taipei Times doesn’t make much money from its website and sees it more as a service rather than something to grow and generate revenue from.

  3. the English spoken by the woman that jumps off the page is painfully horrible. i’m shocked that they would even include the audio in what is supposed to be a new, modern site.

  4. btw, i showed this site to my wife, and her response was “don’t expect so much – they are just a local company that sells cookies and ice cream.” so there you have it.

  5. Of course, David, you really are free to ignore my question; there is, as your peers would perversely say, “no pressure” – except that, as I am unlike them in not being a demented, murderous bastard, I can actually mean it.

  6. To: Jack Wong, Owner of Taiwan News:
    Your site is total overkill…. You got fooled by (I’m guessing, mostly very young and underpaid) graphic artists, who are not journalists OR readers of online newspapers. Firstly, I don’t find all that flash very interactive…. It (Flash) has seldom been interactive (in any country or culture it has been used)… ***People have long confused huge use of fancy attractive/interactive background graphics, with user friendliness*** … OR TO PUT IT ANOTHER WAY – ***Interactivity SHOULD be governed by user-friendliness NOT the ability to create dozens of layers of clickable graphical links***

    On your new site for Taiwan News, I have to look hard to ‘find’ hidden menus and buttons hidden under graphics … This is now a site for ‘graphic artists’ not newspaper readers. Take a look at any of the big famous U.S papers that are online… They have realized that their strength is in solid, well organized, easy to access TEXT news. The new Taiwan News is not ‘solid’ TEXT news (much of it is off the international wires), not well organized (again, the index is hidden after selection of a particular section) and the articles are horrendously difficult to access… Fire some of your graphic designers and hire some decent market researchers, in order to find out what your readership wants, not just what you want. Use your traditional strength as a text based medium, just as CNN (for example) uses its strength in video while on the web.

  7. Oh yes… I just found something that I must add. Here is some new ‘video news’ from the latest Taiwan News!!! JUST WHO THE HELL IS THIS NEWS FOR? Advice for reducing stress: “Listen to your mother and get a good night’s sleep” …. They can’t be serious? Who do they think is reading their paper? 15 year old Taiwanese girls or something? They are totally off the bloody planet. Is this paper really aimed at foreigners living in Taipei or abroad?

  8. Hi David,
    I have to disagree with you on your positive opinion of the new Taipei Times layout.

    I think its ugly, disorganized, and now looks like all the other crappy gov’t websites here in Taiwan. It is especially annoying the way you have to click the page # links at the bottom to see the last paragraph of an article.

    Realizing the TT website is a free service, I know its not really fair to complain. However, I think it can be made a profit center if they just put some effort into it.

    I also agree with Glen’s comments above regarding the TaiwanNews. What a mess. (design&content). The only thing worth reading on their site are the editorials.

  9. Marc, I am only lukewarm in my praise of the Taipei Times website. It is a definite improvement on the previous version. However, it could be so much more. As I noted in the reply to Klaus’s comment I think the TT obviously see the website as a service not a revenue generator. And as you say it could be made into a profit centre with a little more effort.

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