The Foundation for Excellent Journalism Award was established in January 2002, and its main task is to present annual journalism awards to establish a standard of excellence in journalism ethics and professionalism, encourage senior journalists to publish books, and provide journalists with resources for self-advancement and lifelong learning.
For a long period in the past, journalism awards in Taiwan were presented by the government. Since one of the major tasks of the media is government oversight, it is inappropriate for the government to present awards as encouragement to the news media. After the change in government administration, there were demands that government media awards be abolished. The Foundation for Excellent Journalism Award was thus established through contributions from the business sector in the hope that a journalism award presented by the private sector would be more in line with the concept of the Fourth Estate, and would replace previous journalism awards that were inevitably influenced by the authoritarian government.
Taiwan society has undergone rapid democratization after martial law was lifted. Without comprehensive and sustained democratization efforts of the society, however, major events such as the deregulation of the newspaper industry, direct presidential election, and change in government administration would only bring about feeble results, and the democratization process would be full of obstacles and be at risk. The establishment of the Excellent Journalism Award can be perceived as part of the democratization efforts.
Although a free and lively news media is essential to a democratic society, can the news media fulfill its duty of government oversight, exposing anomalies, echoing diverse opinions in the society, serving the public, and reflecting the developments and quality of democracy in a civil society? The Taiwan society has experienced major political changes. The media industry, which had just broken free from political control, is now faced with news commercialization that has often times undermined professional ethics in journalism and its sense of public responsibility.
To reverse the trend toward increased commercialization of the media and minimize political intervention of independent journalism, the Foundation for Excellent Journalism Award not only presents annual journalism awards to establish a standard of excellence in journalism ethics and professionalism, but also encourages journalists to publish books to increase their professional achievements. The Foundation likewise hopes to act as a catalyst for the self-advancement of journalists and a platform for the integration of media resources.