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

Saturday, September 08, 2007

WARNING: China Times headlines are toxic

More from the masters of mendacity

The front-page headline of the September 4, 2007 edition of the China Times (based in Taiwan) read: 「漁署警告:鰻魚有毒」 ("Fisheries Agency warns: eels are toxic"). As regular readers might guess, that paper is playing loosely with the facts, and that's an understatement.

Screenshot from Thursday's Talking Show (大話新聞)

The Taipei Times, on the other hand, informs readers in a non-sensational fashion and includes the important facts:
[A]gency officials point out that only a tiny minority of aquaculture farms sampled tested positive for banned additives, with 99.88 percent of samples passing the test.

[T]he level of enrofloxacin found in the tainted eels, from 2.59 to 9.68 parts per billion, was not considered a serious health risk and could have resulted from environmental contamination rather than deliberate usage on the part of the farmers.

"The problem is the China Times improperly overemphasized the isolated cases of violation," said James Sha (沙志一), deputy director-general of the fisheries agency.
Right! While 99.88 percent of the samples passed muster, the China Times focused on the 0.12 percent, exaggerated it into a front-page story with a bold-faced headline, accused the fisheries agency of issuing the warning, and made excuses for such a headline. Can you guess what their excuse might be?

They claimed they were "warning" the public about something that could cause them potential harm.

Wrong! The facts did not merit such a "warning" which is why the fisheries agency did not issue one.

The real danger here is in the China Times' lack of concern with things like facts. For them, a spectacular headline seems to be what counts the most.

Toxic media
First of all, simple observation seems to indicate that the toxicity index of the China Times' headlines is far greater than 0.12 percent. I could be wrong, but given the examples they have presented us, should I bother to even check? If I'm proven wrong, can I follow their stunning example and say I was only trying to help people? (Might I even add a "Boo hoo! Why's everybody picking on me?!" for good measure?)

No! Of course I can't do those things!

But there are real questions to ponder which are much more important. For example, why this story, and why now? Are they in a frenzy over the revelation that the US doesn't recognize the "ROC" as a country, nor does it accept Taiwan as being part of China? Are they afraid because China hasn't yet invaded to "save" them from such inconvenient facts?

Are they helping to distract attention from the latest recall of toxic toys that were made in China by trying to paint Taiwan as being "just like" China in this respect?

Is it because Japan is a large importer of Taiwan's eel meat? Is it an attempt to manufacture "evidence" upon which they'll base their next report about Taiwan's "bad economy" (經濟不景氣)?

Is it just because they can't stop themselves and will say anything at all in an attempt to get anybody at all to hate the Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) administration? And wouldn't that be due to the fact that every time some long-ignored truth is finally recognized due to the efforts that have been made under this administration, it knocks holes in the China Times' fictitious cause?

Could it be for many -- or even all -- of the above reasons? It's long past time for this kind of toxic media environment to end, and I wish the eel farmers the best of luck with their planned lawsuit against the China Times.

Eel farmers' ad in Friday's Liberty Times (自由時報)

* Thursday night's Talking Show (大話新聞) smacked the China Times upside their mendacious headlines.

Agonists: , , , , , , ,

Cross-posted at Taiwan Matters!

Labels: , , , , , , ,

eXTReMe Tracker
This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?