"Pay close attention to that man behind the curtain!"

Sunday, September 17, 2006

BBC continues Taiwan deception

Says Chen Shui-bian is just a "leader" and
tens/hundreds of thousands are merely "thousands"

After three posts [1, 2, 3] and several complaints to the BBC about their harmful coverage of Taiwan, they're still at it.

The day after the 916 rally on Ketagalan Boulevard to support Taiwan's president Chen Shui-bian, another article with no byline appears, written in a style which observant readers would realize is designed to not provoke China, a country whose unelected leaders constantly behave like 3-year-olds who've just had all of their toys taken away.

Reading through the head-lie
The headline of today's imbalanced piece reads "Thousands rally for Taiwan leader." The people who won't see anything but the headline far outnumber those who will actually read the article, and that's the impression that will remain.

The subhead tells us something a bit different:
Tens of thousands of Taiwanese have taken to the streets of the capital, Taipei, in support of their embattled President, Chen Shui-bian
But there's more. The remainder of the article refers to Chen as "the president" two more times and as "Mr Chen" a total of five times.

Let X = X
Chen Shui-bian is Taiwan's president. He's the democratically-elected president of Taiwan, the nation. Hu Jintao is an unelected "leader" of a country ruled by authoritarians. Shih Ming-teh is an unelected leader of a mob that wants to use extralegal means to "depose" President Chen (see how easy it is to type?), despite having legal means at his disposal. Even school children can be "class leaders."

Titles have meaning. If you called your physician Mr./Ms. Chen instead of Dr. Chen (or whatever his/her surname actually is), he or she would naturally feel strange. Even the infamous literary character Dr. Jekyll is addressed with either the appropriate title or none at all, but never as "Mr. Jekyll."

How many "thousands" is 100,000? I'm sure even the editors at BBC could answer that. While 100,000 is still a number of thousands, words mean things, context changes meaning, and care should be exercised by media professionals.

Even if we go with the figure of 60,000 provided by police [NOTE: Sunday's Taipei Times tells us that police "refused to offer any figure" and "that from now on it would not release such statistics."], the BBC headline downplays what happened in reality. If we read further, the article diminishes the importance of Saturday's pan-green rally by making a comparison to the red-shirted rallies the previous day in which people were mobilized by the Shih camp.

The numbers apparently are important to some people.

The BBC doesn't even let us see with our own eyes how many people were there. In the image accompanying their article, you can count 2-1/2 faces and a single hand from each of two more people. Therefore, we can only see five people in the photo. Sunday's Taipei Times gives us a much better photo, although they make the exact same "mistake" with the numbers in their head-lie. (I bet a computer program could do a decent job of telling us how many people are in such a photo.)

Each time they report about demonstrations, instead of playing games with the numbers, why not offer the readers a photograph that shows as much of the crowd as possible -- like from a helicopter -- and let us determine the numbers for ourselves? Could it be that they have ulterior motives?

Misunderstood characters: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Cross-posted at Taiwan Matters!
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