Bylines at Customs 2: It Only Took a Day

I've decided that this "Bylines at Customs" title will be used for a continuing look at really bad articles/blog entries by foreign reporters in China. The problem is, its almost too easy, everyday there's something new, from just badly worded headlines to downright false reporting.

Today's candidates are a WSJ blog entry and an article from Australian's ABC News.

The WSJ entry, entitled "Another Ticketing Headache" takes a critical stance against BOCOG/Bank of China for their handling of ticket issuance for foreigners. It seems that "several foreigners" at one branch of BOC in Beijing were unable to get their tickets because the names they used to register were different from the names in their passport (because they didn't include their middle names in the registration). Why BOCOG is to be blamed for this (as one blogger thinks), is beyond me. BOCOG instructions were to include your name exactly as it appears in your passport, which seems clear enough and not difficult to follow. Sure, foreigners, unlike Chinese, often have middle names, but in your passport (at least American passports), the middle name is not separate and is included in the part "Given Name". Why these foreigners should get off for not being able to follow instructions is beyond me.

The ABC article includes the headline Athletes Banned From Beijing Opening Ceremony. This seems pretty startling, right? But once you go beyond the fold and read the article, you find out Australia's track and field association decided its best to keep the athletes at their Hong Kong training base instead of moving them to Beijing for the Opening Ceremony. The reasoning for this is that the track events don't start until a week after the Opening Ceremony and concerns about Beijing's "pollution." The "pollution". I can't wait for all the whining about the "pollution" when the games actually begin. As if air quality in Athens and LA is unparalleled. My gut feeling is the team took a vote and decided it wants to boycott the Opening Ceremony and is using this as an excuse, but in any case, nobody was "banned" from the Ceremony. So the headline is inaccurate, but a more nuanced one would have caused most readers to flip past it.

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