Taiwan daily cuts rival publisher out of photo
Sun, Jan 06, 2008
The Straits Times
TAIPEI - A TAIWAN newspaper has caused an uproar over questions of media ethics after it removed the publisher of a rival paper from a picture of a delegation being received by the Pope.

The Liberty Times, Taiwan's top-selling Chinese newspaper, ran a picture on Dec 17 showing a group of Taiwanese led by Mr Franz Chen, chairman of porcelain dealer Franz Collection, meeting Pope Benedict XVI in the Vatican five days earlier.

But the picture was doctored, said the mass-circulation United Daily News (UDN) on Friday. It pointed out that the image of Ms Wang Shaw-lan, its publisher, had been removed from the photo.

The UDN demanded an apology from Liberty Times, whose initial response came from a reporter who said she herself made the decision to edit out Ms Wang, who she deemed 'not an essential presence', in order to shrink the picture for 'better display'.

Then on Friday night Liberty Times issued a statement saying the doctored picture came from Franz Collection.

But a manager from Franz Collection said the newspaper had asked it to airbrush out Ms Wang before sending over the picture.

The case was widely reported in other media outlets, with many slamming Liberty Times for breaching media ethics in misinforming its readers.

A non-governmental media watchdog and many vexed Taiwanese also blasted the paper for abusing the trust of its readers and demanded that it apologise to society at large.

The case might have political undertones as Liberty Times is known to support the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) while UDN is patently anti-DPP.

'The case is apparently prompted by political ideology,' commented another newspaper, ET Today.

This is not the first time Liberty Times has run a doctored picture. In 2005, it ran an Agence France-Presse picture showing a man reading its newspaper when, in fact, it had altered the name of UDN on that newspaper to its own.

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