A content analysis of newspaper headlines about civil servants in Taiwan (反官僚現象 - 以公務人員相關之頭版新聞報導為分析素材)


Civil Service plays a key role in a democratic system but is usually under close scrutiny and attack from politicians or the media. Built on the literature of “bureaucracy bashing,” this paper identifies four dimensions of bureaucracy bashing and explores each dimension using a content analysis of headlines from two national newspapers, the United Daily and the Liberty Times, from 1988 to 2013. The content analysis shows, first, the number of newspaper headlines about civil servants has increased with Taiwan’s democratization. However, the overall image of civil servants presented in headlines tends to be negative. Second, the claim that politicians seeking election tend to present more criticism of civil servants is partially supported. Third, the image of civil servants presented in headlines before and after two turnovers of political power was found not to be significantly different. Last, political bias among news media outlets is associated with the number of negative headlines about civil servants. For United Daily, the tone in headlines was more favorable to civil servants during the Kuomintang regime, compared with the time when Democratic Progressive Party controlled the government. The research presents a preliminary analysis of headlines about civil servants in Taiwan, suggests new directions for the future study and encourages discussion about the ideal role and potential impacts of the media on democratic accountability.

Taiwan Democracy Quarterly,13(3):45-92


Chien-shih Huang
Chien-shih Huang
Assistant Professor

My research interests include executive turnover, collaborative governance, and environmental policy.