How Social Media Has Impacted the Democratic Function of Newspapers in Taiwan

Conference: The Kyoto Conference on Arts, Media & Culture (KAMC2021)
Title: How Social Media Has Impacted the Democratic Function of Newspapers in Taiwan
Stream: Media Studies
Presentation Type: Live-Stream Presentation
I-Chun Lin, University of Leeds, United Kingdom


The relationship between social media and democracy has been widely debated over the past few decades. For non-democratic countries, social media’s potential to facilitate political revolutions when traditional journalism is under the control of authoritarians has been widely debated. In most matured western democracies, the debate regarding social media in the journalistic field is focused on whether it can serve as an alternative public sphere to traditional news media. However, the influence of social media in traditional journalism on consolidating democracy in new democracies is seldom discussed. Taiwan, a newly democratized Asian country serves as a fertile ground of study to investigate how journalism has fared in holding governments accountable in terms of the democratic functions of journalism in the social media era. This paper aims to provide both qualitative and quantitative analysis to access the democratic pluses and minuses of the influence of social media on journalists’ role perceptions and political coverage. Drawing on over twenty in-depth interviews with political journalists from four major newspapers, changes concerning Hanitzsch's three dimensions of journalistic role perception are explored. Furthermore, the content analysis of political coverage of newspapers’ pages on Facebook is also conducted to examine its democratic value. According to the results, the author attempts to argue that social media, particularly Facebook, could weaken the democratic function of traditional journalism more than facilitating it with respect to consolidating democracy in Taiwan.

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