The Objection to “Principle”

Although many challenges are there, the Coollouders still demonstrate their enthusiastic devotion to the independent media movement. It is reasonable to consider that the media runners, in their mind, should have a common belief or value as a fundamental spiritual support for their long-term media movement practice:

“About the core belief or value that supports our practice I cannot define it explicitly…. Surely, the spiritual thing for ‘Coolloud.org’ contains certain humanitarian concerns that give us energy to develop our social movement. However, it is hard to tell at the moment because new social movement, such as independent media activism, is running on its distinctive road that may not have any thinking or position parallel with the traditional Left’s ideology for social movement practice in today’s space-time condition of contemporary society. So we have not got any ‘political line’ or ‘flag’ for our independent media movement.” [1]

Sun agrees that there are “certain humanitarian concerns” contained by a public-spirited value that is supporting the sustainable development of the media social movement. However, it is “hard to tell” because “Coolloud.org” is running as an independent media experiment with some specific characteristics interacting with the complexity of today’s social reality, distant from the traditional line of practice of the Leftist politics, like Marxism’s.

(See: The Theory and Practice of Anti-Globalization Movement: Case Studies of the Independent Media in the Chinese Societies – Hong Kong and Taiwan. Bonn: Bonn University. 2014)

[1] Ibid.

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The Differences between “Inmediahk.net” and “Coolloud.org” (5)

Because of the correspondent group setting, “Coolloud.org” has a very responsibility to maintain the so-called “quality” of its reporting. Such model of operation is different from that of other independent media relying on citizen reporters’ contribution as a main source of information. “Inmediahk.net” is a representative example: the media respects people’s right of free speech by not interfering in “adjusting” the content posted by any citizen reporters on the website as far as possible. Under this circumstance, the independent media has less responsibility to take care of the quality of the information delivered by it. However, “Coolloud.org” is on another road of practicing its media social movement: although “Coolloud.org” is an independent media, it tends to be operating as a professional media organization. Sun does not mention the details of what journalistic skills the Coollouders should have, his suggests that being a “good” correspondent of the independent media is quite similar to a professional journalist working for general media. In fact, some young Coollouders could have no experience in acting as correspondent. Before participating in the media project, these people could be the individuals having enthusiasm for social movement running, but are amateurs of being a media worker. Moreover, the “no-pay” state also distracts them from completing various media works and strengthening journalistic skills. To sum up, it can be seen that “Coolloud.org” is striving for a further development of its media social movement in Taiwan, even though there are difficulties needed to be tackled in the future.

(See: The Theory and Practice of Anti-Globalization Movement: Case Studies of the Independent Media in the Chinese Societies – Hong Kong and Taiwan. Bonn: Bonn University. 2014)

休戚相關與理性 (3)

“If human beings followed their natural instincts and were guided by reason, they would be able to live in peace and harmony without the need for coercive institutions. In Zeno’s Republic, according to the fragments preserved for us by Diogenes Laertius, there are no lawcourts, police, armies, temples, schools, money or even marriage. People live as a single ‘herd’ without family and property, with no distinctions of race or rank and without the need for money or counts of law…People fulfill their natures living in a stateless society of complete equality and freedom which spreads across the whole globe.”[1]

基諾在鋪陳其以理性概念為基礎的無政府哲學時,亦對所謂理想社會的內涵加以描述。在理論闡述邏輯角度分析,基諾的思想與老子同樣具有理想主義色彩。不過,老子在形容「合乎道的社會」時,並無否定在上位者的角色和作用。事實上,老子期望統治者能夠協助實現其建基於道的人本政治理念。我們無法把老子視為無政府者,但我們有理據肯定基諾為奠定無政府哲學思想的理論基礎的貢獻,功不可沒。

(摘自: 無政府與全球化. 台北: 國立政治大學. 2003)

[1] See Marshall, Peter (1992). Demanding the Impossible—A History of Anarchism. pp. 70-71.

The Differences between “Inmediahk.net” and “Coolloud.org” (4)

However, such kind of approach to the media movement practice has its difficulties. The “no-pay” working state encountered by the Coollouders is one of them. Maintaining the quality of the website contents and strengthening the journalistic discipline of the correspondents are other main issues which matter the further development of the practice:

“To keep running an independent media is not an easy task because our journalistic works are mixed that need to be completed by the ones who are enthusiastic about social movement practice and have long-term working experience in the media world. Now I think our members are still young that they always come to join us and decide to leave in haste. It is hard to train them up under this circumstance. For newcomers, it is quite difficult to entirely fulfill our requirements of completing the media works, in some cases, as professional as a general media reporter. Professional correspondents may not have interest in understanding the whole context of the development of various social movements; however, they do have an ability to compose professional reports for the happenings. It is burdensome for our correspondents to do the same thing without making any mistake. Besides, they also need to integrate our opinion and thinking in our news reports. A kind of anxiety about how to complete the media works well arises in their mind.” [1]

(See: The Theory and Practice of Anti-Globalization Movement: Case Studies of the Independent Media in the Chinese Societies – Hong Kong and Taiwan. Bonn: Bonn University. 2014)

[1] Ibid.

休戚相關與理性 (2)

基諾以何種基礎談論利他實踐或人與人之間跨越血緣關係的共同合作?基諾首先肯定人有休戚相關的同理本能(Sympathy),並藉此架構其解放主義倫理思想。若進一步追問,人的休戚相關是怎樣產生的?其理論依據為何?基諾指出,世界上每一個人─不管生活在什麼地方、從事什麼職業等─都擁有一種共同共有的本性,那就是理性。換句話說,這種理性確保了休戚相關的實踐。由此可見,基諾的倫理學架構顯然是形上學式的。

因為人都有理性,那麼人就不應有所謂階級之分,亦沒有必要為了任何人倫中的親疏比較作特定的劃分。每一個人都是對等、平等的。據此,人與人之間的溝通和尊重也具備充足的條件達成。在此客觀條件下,即使不具血緣關係,人的休戚相關每每存在,且不斷發生。每一個人都依據理性的指引生活,不以血緣或人種概念定義彼此的親疏關係,不據利益的多寡來區分你我得著。個人的福祉就是他人的福祉。生命個體之間的連結密切而友好。一個和諧大同的世界隨之而成,且毋須權力在場。

(摘自: 無政府與全球化. 台北: 國立政治大學. 2003)

The Differences between “Inmediahk.net” and “Coolloud.org” (3)

Because of the “strong consciousness of working as a media”, “Coolloud.org” tries to give a complete and even-handed concern with social groups, NGOs and individual activists’ actions for labour right and social justice development. Coollouders can play a role as the supporter of various social movements. However, they refuse to become the subject of those activistic practices. The main purpose of sticking with the role of being a media is to promote a distinctive perspective on viewing all social happenings as equal as possible. From this point, we can see that “Coolloud.org” has a clear stance on keeping an objective journalistic horizon and avoiding any possible impact on the horizon from a single happening for its media movement. For this, to arrange and organize an independent correspondent group is necessary.

(See: The Theory and Practice of Anti-Globalization Movement: Case Studies of the Independent Media in the Chinese Societies – Hong Kong and Taiwan. Bonn: Bonn University. 2014)

The Differences between “Inmediahk.net” and “Coolloud.org” (2)

Undoubtedly, it could be argued that in “Anti-Pulling Down the Star Ferry Pier & Queen’s Pier Movement” “Inmediahk.net” did not run as “a media” because of its complete participation in the movement development. “Inmediahk.net”, by following Sun’s thinking, could lose its objective position of giving out a neutral point of view to the audience not only through revealing the authorities’ wrongdoing one-sidedly but through providing a whole picture of the movement, like explaining the socio-political context of the form of the happening, creating a space for people to reflect the disappearing connection with their “histories”, etc. Furthermore, social and political conflicts are usually occurring at the same time. It is possible that some of them could be unintentionally missed and even ignored if independent media only focus on reporting or participating in “the most important one”. This reflective point directs us to think more about the differences between Hong Kong and Taiwan’s media social movements.

(See: The Theory and Practice of Anti-Globalization Movement: Case Studies of the Independent Media in the Chinese Societies – Hong Kong and Taiwan. Bonn: Bonn University. 2014)

The Differences between “Inmediahk.net” and “Coolloud.org”

“We have a strong consciousness of operating as ‘a media organization’, so we are working just like a general media. This characteristic of the operation of ‘Coolloud.org’ is dissimilar to that of ‘Inmediahk.net’, even though we are both ‘independent media’. For example, if there is a social conflict happening somewhere, the core members of ‘Inmediahk.net’ would immediately go out and demonstrate their supporting stance publicly. ‘Anti-Pulling Down the Star Ferry Pier & Queen’s Pier Movement’ was a representative one. At the peak of the social movement running, ‘Inmediahk.net’ was not operating as ‘media’ because all the members were participating in the collective action and no one stayed in the office…they became a part of the growing resistance power, a 100% social movement group. [1]

Sun argues there are different characteristics of the operation of the two independent media for embodying their social movement support. In Section Two of this chapter, we have analyzed the working strategy of the Coollouders: the independent media members would not participate in any actions by using the media’s name. On the social movement stage, they are not only giving solidarity and support to demonstrators, but completing their media works at the same time. Here, Sun takes “Anti-Pulling Down the Star Ferry Pier & Queen’s Pier Movement” as an example to argue that “Inmediahk.net”, in some cases, does not work as “a media”. In the resisting movement, “Inmediahk.net” played a role not as an independent media, but as a social movement actor because the media’s operators were actually the “subject” of the movement, manifesting their clear position of getting involved in the social incident and trying to lead the developing direction of the resisting movement, even if they also did some media works as the subordinate, such as recording their action in the movement and uploading relative information onto the independent media website.

(See: The Theory and Practice of Anti-Globalization Movement: Case Studies of the Independent Media in the Chinese Societies – Hong Kong and Taiwan. Bonn: Bonn University. 2014)

[1] Ibid.

Connected with Social Movement Organizations (4)

Through the active model of the media movement practice, “Coolloud.org” can effectively exercise its editorial capability and emphasize the media’s reporting orientation, easier for the media to establish a concrete stance on supporting and cultivating the particular kinds of social movement runnings. This working model is unable to be operated by “Inmediahk.net” because most information provided by the Hong Kong independent media is sourced from voluntary citizen reporters. It is not necessary for the media members to work closely with local social organizations for news production, reflecting a passive model of the media movement practice. To sum up, from the case of “Coolloud.org” we can understand that an independent media can be actively acting as information exchange centre of social organizations and individuals that can properly facilitate the establishment of a solid connection between common people and grassroots activists as well as various social associations, fostering the further development of the independent media movement on the scene of globalization.

(See: The Theory and Practice of Anti-Globalization Movement: Case Studies of the Independent Media in the Chinese Societies – Hong Kong and Taiwan. Bonn: Bonn University. 2014)

Connected with Social Movement Organizations (3)

In addition, Sun comments that other independent media might not be working as “Coolloud.org” do, naming “Inmediahk.net” as an example. This argument is most likely built on his evaluation on the current achievement of the independent media in Hong Kong: the news and information shown on the “Inmediahk.net” website are mainly related to political, social and cultural issues offered by local citizen reporters, different from that of “Coolloud.org”, focusing on delivering the news of labour and environmental movements powered by the media’s correspondent group[1].

(See: The Theory and Practice of Anti-Globalization Movement: Case Studies of the Independent Media in the Chinese Societies – Hong Kong and Taiwan. Bonn: Bonn University. 2014)

[1] On the front page of the website of “Inmediahk.net”, there are many tags to be set for news classification. The tags include Locals; Social Movements; Actions; Government & Councils; Freedom of Speech; Internet Freedom; Media; China; International; Culture & Art; Animations and Comics; Diet; Travel; Labors; Education; Environment; Animal rights; Sports; Gender; Economy; Technology. On the other side, “Coolloud.org” categorizes the news on the website by using the tags of Reports of Coolloud; Comments of Coolloud; Public Forum (Retrieved 7 January, 2013, from the “Inmediahk.net” and “Coolloud.org” websites). The different tag categories set by the two independent media not only represent different characters of the media movement practices: “Inmediahk.net” for the voices of people; “Coolloud.org” for social movement reporting, but reflect whether there is a close relationship between the media and social movement groups. Due to the specific character of the media running, “Coolloud.org” has to maintain a good relationship with social organizations and individual activists for the purposes of following the fresh development of social movements in the local and of keeping the news sources of the independent media well.

Connected with Social Movement Organizations (2)

“Coolloud.org”, according to Sun’s description, has established a great relationship with various social organizations and community groups by reporting their actions for the growth of public concern, suggesting that a broad horizon of including all kinds of grassroots voices of the independent media is well represented.

To facilitate the form of people’s consciousness for social reform, it is important for “Coolloud.org” to give out a whole picture of the development of social movement in local and global societies as completely as possible. By conforming to the spirit of solidarity and mutual aid, the independent media actively helps social activists and NGOs on different roads to transmit their voices with various communicative materials such as images, articles, commentaries, independent reports and news of socio-political campaigns to the rest of the world through its website platform. This action would directly activate a further development of the media social movement in the context of the rise of anti-globalization movement.

(See: The Theory and Practice of Anti-Globalization Movement: Case Studies of the Independent Media in the Chinese Societies – Hong Kong and Taiwan. Bonn: Bonn University. 2014)

Connected with Social Movement Organizations

Besides developing local media work, carrying out transnational connection and substantial mutual support between independent media and social activism groups around the world is another working focus of the independent media movements in Hong Kong and in Taiwan. For instance, “Inmediahk.net” received technical support from the Taiwanese “Coolloud.org” for website platform refinement. Independent media are running conforming to their own operating style and methodology as well as keeping contact with other counterparts in different countries and regions, establishing a global cooperative network to extend the influence of social movement practice:

“‘Coolloud.org’ has a distinctive characteristic of practicing its media social movement: having a good working relationship with other social activism groups and NGOs not only in the local but also in the globe. On our media platform, we intend to maintain a balance between different kinds of news and reports related to various social actions held by local/global activists. Also, we always keep in touch with protest and demonstration organizers for potential happening interview. In other countries, it seems it is not always a case that independent media have a clear attempt to carry out their work by following this approach, showing that they could have weaker connection with social organizations and individual activists, like ‘Inmediahk.net’…. [1]

(See: The Theory and Practice of Anti-Globalization Movement: Case Studies of the Independent Media in the Chinese Societies – Hong Kong and Taiwan. Bonn: Bonn University. 2014)

[1] Ibid.

Reflecting on the Media’s Funding Issue (7)

For social organization runners, this is a process of being curbed: to submit a “standard” project proposal before the deadline regulated by funding institution is a work that must be done for sponsorship in the first place. The institution would then evaluate the “feasibility” of the submitted proposal and decide whether it is “selected”. In this process, the power of deciding which one is “invested” is completely held by the money giver. On the funded side, many practical problems could be emerging when the selected is to be implemented. For instance, the project runners have no right to use the capital flexibly. From the sponsor’s point of view, it is an “of-course” arrangement because “they have paid for this idea”. In such case, it is obvious that from the beginning the runners of the selected project are just the “agent” temporarily hired by the funding provider. It cannot be denied that social organization operators can obtain financial support from the Establishment by following “the rule of the game”, this approach to solving the money issue, however, would definitely derail the original goal and methodology of their social practices and obstruct the long-term development of Taiwanese social ecology.

Although “Coolloud.org” is running under the circumstance in which the Establishment has an influential role in directing the operation of many social organizations on the Island, the media understands the philosophy of being untied and still insists on its independent approach to exercising its distinctive social movement consistently.

(See: The Theory and Practice of Anti-Globalization Movement: Case Studies of the Independent Media in the Chinese Societies – Hong Kong and Taiwan. Bonn: Bonn University. 2014)

Reflecting on the Media’s Funding Issue (6)

“[For obtaining the funding] we firstly have to submit a proposal as project plan that includes a detailed list of budget to relative public sector institution(s). After the submitted being approved, we have to sign a contract and implement the project by conforming to the budget limit. For example, there were totally three institutions agreed to fund the ‘Cheval-de-frise Film Festival’ held by ‘Coolloud.org’. One of them decided to support us up to 300,000 NTD, but only for ‘poster printing’. Why were we restricted to use the money so senseless? We didn’t need to print such amount of posters for promoting our activity. Also, the funding from the governmental is not stable: although this year you have got a certain amount of money for your working project, it could be still a question for next year. Under the operating circumstance, you need to keep submitting proposal(s) to different funding institutions for sustaining the manpower of organization, maintaining the movement running, etc. In Taiwan, everyone has got used to run social organization by following this approach. In the beginning of our media movement practice, someone told me that there were suitable opportunities for us to get financial support from the Establishment, however, I did not accept his idea of doing that.” [1]

Sun shares his experience of working with public sector institutions for the project “Cheval-de-frise Film Festival”. Through Sun’s experience, we can realize the existing problems of obtaining financial support from the institutions for sustaining the operation and the movement of social organization on the Island.

(See: The Theory and Practice of Anti-Globalization Movement: Case Studies of the Independent Media in the Chinese Societies – Hong Kong and Taiwan. Bonn: Bonn University. 2014)

[1] Ibid.

Reflecting on the Media’s Funding Issue (5)

Obviously, “Coolloud.org” recognizes it is problematic that any social associations or NGOs, that could have a certain working stance against the negative side-effect made by the Establishment, claims its operating means from the Establishment. How do we justify such ironic move of “biting the hands that feed you”? This is not only an ethnic issue, but represents an alienation of the existing nature of the social organizations for common people. As mentioned, an act of providing funding support implies an attempt to construct a buy-sell relationship between the provider and acceptor of the capital. Here is the point: if the funding, provided by authorities for example, is agreed, this means the original goal of the practice of the social organizations’ “movement” for society are to be altered that the agents are no longer working for public interest with their distinctive way, but serving for the “sustainability” of their operation. That is to say, “to survive” – to be running conforming to funding providers’ demand (bound by the “contract”) for the sufficient means – becomes the priority of their social practices. At this point, we can see the dependent social organizations actually lose their role in pushing the ideal development of society.

(See: The Theory and Practice of Anti-Globalization Movement: Case Studies of the Independent Media in the Chinese Societies – Hong Kong and Taiwan. Bonn: Bonn University. 2014)

Reflecting on the Media’s Funding Issue (4)

However, there is a typical ecology of how social working associations and NGOs as well as local pressure groups deal with the “money problem” in Taiwan: most of the organizations are heavily relying on the Establishment’s capital resource to continue their running, according to Sun’s observation:

“It is a ‘common sense’ that Taiwanese social organizations mostly rely on authorities’ financial support for their operation by doing case projects commissioned by the official. We do not like to work with such setting for our movement. [A: Did ‘Coolloud.org’ apply for any funding support from the authorities?] No, we never did that, besides the ‘Cheval-de-frise Film Festival’. We only got funding from the official for covering some required expenditures of the activities. Besides this case, we did not apply for the funding offered by the authorities.” [1]

(See: The Theory and Practice of Anti-Globalization Movement: Case Studies of the Independent Media in the Chinese Societies – Hong Kong and Taiwan. Bonn: Bonn University. 2014)

[1] Ibid.

Reflecting on the Media’s Funding Issue (3)

Sun points out that the stance of “Coolloud.org” on the funding issue is clear: whoever the “potential enemy” or “friend” is the financial supporter, independent media activists should always avoid accepting the big sum donation from the top because it is related to the potential loss of the subjectivity of the media movement practice, implying that the donator “buys up” the media organization and its social position when the donation is once accepted. Of course, it can be argued that independent media workers have the right to accept such beneficial donation and do not take notice of the “being-bought-up” reality. However, this move could have no meaning for saving the social importance of the media activism because the independency of the practice of independent media movement should be defined by the existence of the actual support from common people. When the money is accepted, the dependency of the “independent media” on the material is immediately shown that most people would start to suspect the neutrality or pureness of the media running. The point is not related to whether the development of the media movement is to be directed by the single donator, but connected with whether the activistic nature of the operation of independent media for people’s unity for a free society can be further manifested in the social movement practice.

(See: The Theory and Practice of Anti-Globalization Movement: Case Studies of the Independent Media in the Chinese Societies – Hong Kong and Taiwan. Bonn: Bonn University. 2014)

Reflecting on the Media’s Funding Issue (2)

In capitalist society, “giving someone economic materials” (e.g. investment, donation, etc.) usually implies a kind of establishment of subordinate relationship between the provider and the accepter of the materials if the given are too valuable. Therefore, if a wealthy man wants to “help” the further development of independent media through donation, this would not be a good news for the media activists because such form of support, by following the logic of the capitalist, may cause certain unpredictable impact on the original practicing principle and position of the independent media running. There are reasons to explain why the activists tend to welcome small donation from common people, not the one-off from the rich. One of the representatives is that letting the operation of independent media be based on people’s decentralized donation is an essential foundation to justify that the practice of the media movement is really “out of the Establishment” and connected with the existence of a natural social need – through the voluntary act of offering support based on their economic ability, a group of citizens can express that they want the “truth” of society and try to understand more about others’ opinions in the public. From the media activists’ point of view, getting financial support from the ordinary helps them escape not only from the possible influence of economic dominants who are the actual “producers” of social issues, but from the paradox of “biting the hands that feed ‘you’”.

(See: The Theory and Practice of Anti-Globalization Movement: Case Studies of the Independent Media in the Chinese Societies – Hong Kong and Taiwan. Bonn: Bonn University. 2014)

Reflecting on the Media’s Funding Issue

As independent media workers, the Coollouders, of course, have to tackle the so-called “funding issue”, considering the operation costs of running the alternative media. Public donation can be one of the financial sources for supporting the operation of the media. For this issue, “Coolloud.org” has its opinion:

“There are two kinds of situations we face that are related to the ‘funding issue’: one, a one-off big sum of money donated for our movement. We generally consider this ‘support’ as problematic – the ‘donator’ could be our ‘potential enemy’ because of his possible capitalist background colliding with our social movement practice. It is difficult to lead the future development of ‘Coolloud.org’ if accepting this kind of donation; two, the ‘donator’ is our friend who sympathizes with us. For this, we would still prefer not to accept the support from him because our activism is possibly to be affected. Perhaps, the one has particular ideas on the independent media operation and wants to influence our thinking through the money support…[A: Is it true to say that ‘Coolloud.org’ wishes to get financial support from common people, not from individuals who have the ‘nonessential’?] Yes.” [1]

(See: The Theory and Practice of Anti-Globalization Movement: Case Studies of the Independent Media in the Chinese Societies – Hong Kong and Taiwan. Bonn: Bonn University. 2014)

[1] The content of the passage is extracted from the “Sun’s interview”.

The Viewpoints on Mainstream Media (4)

Chu Shu-Chuan[1], a Taiwanese citizen reporter, argues that the current development of the local media circumstance, even polarizing and deteriorating, gives a possible room for individuals to start their movement for independent media running. The justification of this is that more and more people are hard to get true, accurate and complete information about the changing society from the mainstream because of the market-oriented operation of mass media. Therefore, people would try other information source for what they are concern with, for instance, the “reality” of a particular ongoing protest. At this point, the website-form independent media can play a significant role as alternative media platform available for all to understand the present with diversified opinions, viewpoints, comments or even criticisms from people themselves. “Coolloud.org” and “Inmediahk.net” are both great examples of this. Here, Chu’s point of view – the polarizing tendency of the mainstream “contrarily” helps the development of the practice of independent media movement – is quite parallel with Ip’s theory on analyzing the positive influence of the vicissitude of Hong Kong media circumstance on driving the growth of media activism in the city.

(See: The Theory and Practice of Anti-Globalization Movement: Case Studies of the Independent Media in the Chinese Societies – Hong Kong and Taiwan. Bonn: Bonn University. 2014)

[1] Chu Shu-Chuan (Zhu Shujuan朱淑娟) is an active citizen reporter working on publishing her independent reports for particular social issues in Taiwan. Before her citizen reporter’s career, she had worked for the press media “United Daily News” as correspondent for local and environmental news since 1998. Due to the gradually strong interference from political/economic powers on the media company’s editorial principle, she resigned her position in 2009 and has been working as a citizen reporter till now.