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

Friday, March 30, 2007

Kathrin Hille spills some of the beans

She works hard for the money

In contrast with former CNN Beijing Bureau Chief Rebecca MacKinnon's claim that the anti-Taiwan memes in the international media are the result of "journalistic laziness," Financial Times correspondent Kathrin Hille actually trots out a more credible motivation for such behavior.

Here's what Wednesday's Taipei Times tells us about the prevalence of "China-centric reporting on Taiwan":
Speaking to the Taipei Times by phone yesterday, Taipei Foreign Correspondents' Club president Kathrin Hille said that although major Western news publications are no longer dispatching as many "staffers" to the country, "I don't think the total number of [foreign journalists] has declined. That always happens in news markets that matter less," she said of the thinning ranks of permanent correspondents from big-name media organizations. "Look, news is a market -- media serve to give their audiences what they think they're interested in and right now, everybody's interested in China," Hille said.


"There's a need for people to read what you write and getting into a story from the China angle helps to ensure that," she added. "Taiwan's significance is declining."

"But, in a way, that's a good thing -- that means no disasters are coming out of this place," she said.
Read that again. She only seems to care that you read what she writes -- not whether it's factual. Could it be that "getting into a story from the China angle helps to ensure" that Hille keeps her job as the leader of the pack and that there will be "no disasters" regarding her current income? And would the writing of Hille and her ilk have anything to do with any of the potential truth behind her assertion that "right now, everybody's interested in China"? I certainly wonder even more about those things now than I did before reading that article.

Also, think again about Beijing Bureau Chief Rebecca MacKinnon's assertion that "journalistic laziness" was the reason for the ubiquitous pro-China memes. If you weren't skeptical of that dubious drivel already, Hille's statement ought to raise some red flags.

Who else runs with this pack?
Well, well, well. Look who Hille has at her heel:
Tim Culpan
Taipei Editor
I guess that would make him the boss of the infamous James Peng, whose China-centric reporting has been documented previously on Taiwan Matters.

A brief Google search tells us more about the trustworthiness of the leaders of this pack of dogs:
Chief Editor's note

Monday, Mar 08, 2004, Page 8

I would like to hereby thank the local news media for all its recent attention on me. With respect to the discussions created by an internal memo sent by myself to my co-workers at the Taipei Times, I have neither new comments nor new input to add.

Throughout this incident, the only regrettable thing is the South China Morning Post's reporting of something that never happened.

The reporter, Tim Culpan, quoted an anonymous reporter as saying "I was told that if I write anything against the DPP or 'too Blue' that I would be fired," which is complete nonsense and very irresponsible and vicious reporting. No editor-in-chief can ever speak to his or her subordinates either openly or in private in this way.

The South China Morning Post's freelance reporter Tim Culpan previously worked as a copy editor at the Taipei Times.

I do not wish to speculate whether he was in fact being personally vindictive over any matter in particular.

However, it is a fact that the Taipei Times has indeed rejected news stories he submitted for publication after his departure.

Rick Chu

Chief Editor, Taipei Times
Here is a mirror of the SCMP article in question. See how Culpan has also been pushing the "China market" since at least 2002.

A lesson from the movies
China, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), and writers like Hille remind me of a poignant line in the recent film 300. The gargantuan antagonist Xerxes says to the Spartan traitor Ephialtes, "Cruel Leonidas demanded that you stand. I require only that you kneel." Only someone with no self-worth would choose the latter.

Unpaid dividends: , , , , , , , , , ,

Cross-posted at Taiwan Matters!

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Playing with guns

Full gunmetal irony

Today's Taipei Times brings us this appallingly ironic story:
Lawmaker presents shocking police photos


A police cadet standing to the left in a photograph has the muzzle of a handgun in his mouth, while a classmate standing next to him, in full uniform and smiling, levels a second handgun at the cadet's temple.

Other grainy photographs show similarly disturbing scenes of what Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Chiang Lien-fu (江連福) said yesterday were police cadets fooling around with guns during training.

"I received the pictures as a file attached to an anonymous e-mail from a Taipei police academy and I was just appalled," Chiang told the Taipei Times after displaying the photographs at a press conference in the legislature on Friday.

The file contained 30 photographs of cadets playing with guns by pointing them at one another, at a salamander and at other random targets.


Even if the firearms shown in the photos are merely pellet guns, the cadets' actions reveal a disturbing lack of discipline in handling sidearms and are indicative of a severe lack of gun training among police officers nationwide, Chiang said.
The target of Chiang's accusations is actually a notable example of police incompetence in which an officer's gun was stolen resulting in the death of an innocent victim who became caught up in the situation. However, how can such accusations be made by a person who does this?:

In lieu of a smoking gun
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Chiang Lien-fu aims a gun at a Chen Shui-bian doll in the legislature yesterday, saying that the president should "end it all" after pan-green camp legislators boycotted the second day of recall proceedings.

Taipei Times photo - Thumbnail hosted by Image Shack

Even if the firearm shown in the photo is merely a BB gun, I guess what Chiang is really trying to say is this: "Do as I say, not as I do."

Smoking guns: , , , , ,

Cross-posted at Taiwan Matters!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

CNN: Scum of the cable news industry?

Seeking to fuck shit up for Taiwan?

I'll admit right off that Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) is not who I want to be Taiwan's next president, but CNN was way off base with a headline reading "Taiwan's 'scum of the nation' runs for president." Take a look at the nastiness for yourself:

The offensive phrase is a quote from China's state-owned media from way back in 2000, but the quotation marks in CNN's headline did little to take away from its declarative nature which, in the context of the terrible reporting on Taiwan, demeans the country as well.

They apparently changed the headline later. By the time I read the article, it bore the title "Lu seeks to be first Taiwan woman president." I wonder if they'll change that awkward one soon, too. (Quick! Who was the "first Taiwan man president"?)

The article also contains this obnoxious meme:
Taiwan has been ruled separately from China since the Communists won a civil war and took over the mainland in 1949. Beijing insists Taiwan must unify eventually or face a devastating war.
The fact is that Taiwan has been ruled "separately from China" since the end of the Qing Dynasty in 1896, and don't you forget it.

Questions to ask yourself:
* What kind of person would immediately think of a 7-year-old "scum of the nation" quote for a headline?
* Are there any similarities between Xinhua (新華) and this CNN piece?
* 1 + 1 = ?
Pre-completion update: I'm told this story was written by Hong Kong-based AP reporter Lee Ming (ph) (李明). According to Presidential Office spokesperson David Lee (李南陽), quoted in today's Taipei Times, "the AP told him that CNN, which is an AP subscriber, had changed its original headline to make it sound more sensational" and that "the office would contact CNN to gain a clearer understanding of the situation." Please contact CNN about this and express your disapproval. [Edit: I've changed the link to the one you get when you follow "Send general comments" from their "dotcom" Feedback page.]

Second pre-completion update: I'm now getting a blank page where the original article was. Not even a "404" error -- just a white cat in a snowstorm.

Requiring rectification: , , , , , ,

Cross-posted at Taiwan Matters!
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