Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Next Step

I would be lying if I said that the past couple of months haven’t been a difficult period for me. It all began with an irony, when, on the day that Commonwealth Magazine (天下雜誌) published its feature story about me and my journalistic vision for Taiwan, my employer, the Thinking Taiwan Foundation, informed me that Thinking Taiwan, the commentary and analysis website I had launched in June 2014, was to close shop. I was also told that my contract with the Foundation would be terminated prematurely. All of a sudden the long-term project that I had spearheaded was no longer long-term; I fought for the site’s survival and argued for its continuation, but sadly the powers that be had, well, all the power. As of May 20 — inauguration day — Thinking Taiwan was no more…

Luckily for me, the stars were once again aligned in my favor. After a period of grieving (and a pair of academic events in the U.K. that could not have occurred at a better time), a new opportunity came my way. This was proof (if proof was needed) that there is life after 小英, the person who convinced us to remain in Taiwan days before my spouse and I were set to leave the country to seek our fortunes elsewhere. With hindsight, it is now clear that this unexpected development at the Foundation and the severing of my association with Tsai Ing-wen “brand” was a blessing in disguise: after all, the principal role of a journalist is to speak the truth to power and to hold government to account. Tsai, my former employer, has become president. She and her administration are now fair game.

So here’s what’s happening. Starting on June 1 I will be assuming a new position as chief editor of The News Lens International, the English-language sister of The News Lens, an independent media launched in 2013. And here’s where things get even better. Unlike my situation at Thinking Taiwan, where I handled everything pretty much on my own, this time around I will finally have a team of writers and editors to work with. Not only will this allow me to build on the successes of Thinking Taiwan, it will also give me a chance to expand the scope of our endeavors by focusing on the entire Asia Pacific region. With help from our contributors across the region and all over the world, I intend to turn TNLI into the platform for the exchange of ideas within this extremely important and exciting corner of the world, from Taiwan to Malaysia, Hong Kong (where we also have an office) to Singapore.

Out of the ashes of misfortune arose opportunity. Needless to say, I am very excited to be joining this young and dynamic team!

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