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2008/11/16

Bylines at Customs Returns?

The Olympics have been over for less than 3 months, but the mass of reporters in Beijing to cover the Games left before the start of September and skipped out on the Paralympics. Despite that, it seems reporters are still out published total crap stories on China. You see them all the time and they are utterly disappointing and rarely worth my time picking them apart. China Law Blog does an excellent job picking apart the Newsweek story about China being the world's most stressful place.

These sort of trend stories based on one or two incidents are just laughable, but easy to sell to gullible editors back home who know little to nothing about China and so the story passes their smell test. The problem is that too many readers will go on to believe it because "it was written." What is surprising is that the story is by Melinda Liu (at least it carries her byline) and while nobody is perfect, there are few with her depth of knowledge and experience writing on China nowadays. Even the best can make mistakes sometimes...

1 comment:

China Law Blog said...

I completely agree with you on all points.

1. These stories are rarely worth discussing. I discussed this one though because a) it went to such absurd lengths, b) it was in Newsweek, and c) it came on the heels of the Santa Clara killings, which were similar and had particular meaning to me (but not to the country as a whole!) because my daughter is in that same small town.

2. Melinda Liu is ordinarily an excellent reporter. I wonder if the editors modified the story as it does read like two stories in one. Will Moss of ImageThief pointed out what an excellent job the story did in describing Tang and I agree with that. So maybe Ms. Liu did the Tang part and then the editors said, "hey, nobody is going to care about one Chinese guy, so let's make this into a story about China writ large...." And the rest is history?