Foreign media on China

Best and worst of the China hacks

The current issue of Access Asia's weekly email contains their yearly awards for journalists and media companies that cover China, republished here with their permission.

The Access Asia Prime and Sub-Prime Media Awards 2007

The media’s China obsession continued to become more obsessive this year, and so we give you our annual round up of the best and the worst coverage of China. PS: the choices below are our personal ones. However, judging by your e-mails, this year the easy winner in the sub-prime category for repeated silly reporting on China would be BBC World’s Rico Hizon, so we’ll dedicate a whole issue to the wee fella’s incessant hyping of China sometime soon. Also, we know that many of you also e-mail us regularly about your dislike of CNN in-house buffoon Richard ‘call me Questy’ Quest, but we’re not including him as he’s not really China-focused, is a bit obvious and puts us off our dinner.

Prime – Give Them an Award – BBC correspondents Andrew Harding and Jonathan Head should be given an award, or better yet a pay rise (unlikely at the BBC given the stupidity of senior management at the moment) for their reporting in and around Burma this year. By far the best of the tele bunch, despite the BBC’s head honchos trying their best to gut the news division.

Sub-Prime – Time to Think a Bit Harder – Boos for Time, who this year ran a number of distinctly dodgy articles on North Korea that really didn’t stand up – notably one on supposedly brave and daring foreign entrepreneurs, most of whom had not actually made any investments in the hermit kingdom, and a couple who hadn’t even actually been there!

Prime – the BEEB again – The excellent documentary series, from the BBC’s Carrie Gracie, on White Horse Village, that was being flattened by communist fiat to make a city to the resident’s general screwing over. A swimming pool, concert hall and tennis courts were supposed to appear but obviously didn’t. A fascinating insight and superb footage. Once again, this proves what a bunch of w*****s those seeking to slash the news budget at the BBC are. PS: while slashing spending on news, don’t forget the BBC felt able to pay £75m for the Lonely Planet guidebooks business.

Sub-prime – This was the year that it became necessary to declare the South China Morning Post's business section officially and irretrievably DEAD. Spectacularly, the paper’s biz section has managed to out-Xinhua Xinhua, and now runs on a par with the Shanghai Daily, but with the added silliness of Tom Holland’s column, that remains consistently a good six months behind the curve, while the slightly embarrassing Lai See business gossip column has failed to have one funny piece all year. We can only hope for a resurrection, but we’re not holding our breath.

Prime – Worth a Read – We’re going to give a cheer to Lindsey Hilsum, who’s semi-regular columns on China for Britain’s New Statesman we’ve found interesting and slightly off beat, compared to most of the fodder served up as commentary by the media on China from armchair analysts in Islington. However, null points to the New Statesman for running an article about how architects are becoming environmentally friendly, which was full of lavish and unchallenged praise for dodgy-Dongtan (click here). The author? Chris Luebkeman, a director and leader of Arup's global Foresight and Innovation initiative. Another victory for the Arup press machine.

Sub-Prime – BEEB Fails to Score Thanks to Keane – To prove we are fair, this time the BBC went deeply sub-prime covering the tenth anniversary of the Hong Kong handover. Too many cooks spoiled the broth, which included the pompous whingings of Hong Kong bore David Tang, and the tired old excuses of British gold medalist bore Chris Patten. However, by far the worst was the BBC’s biggest nightmare – Fergal (the most over-emoting, ‘it’s all about me’, ‘I bare the world’s problems on my shoulders’) Keane, and true to form, it was all about him and therefore very boring and analysis-light. If there must be cuts at the BBC, then let Keane be the first and the deepest. Despite the terribleness of Keane, the BBC made a late and brilliant recovery when Quentin Somerville found a university student who decided to cash in on soaring pork prices and return to being a pig farmer – inspired!

Prime – The Financial Times had more China coverage than ever, featuring fairly lavish supplements including their heavyweights such as Martin Wolf and Quentin Peel, and also giving their Beijing correspondent Richard McGregor his own occasional column, complete with stern mug shot that makes him look like a tough headmaster at a Scottish public school. Shame they got the Chongqing stampedes so wrong, and continue to back dodgy luxury booster conferences, but you can’t have everything. After a couple years of falling sales, the FT’s circulation shot up nearly 10% this year thanks to the sub-prime crisis – we suppose someone always gets the silver lining while someone else gets the s**tty end of the stick.

Sub-Prime – The King of the Idiots? – Wunderkind of the London chattering classes Will Hutton of course, who’s awful book on China thankfully sunk faster than the Titanic after its brief moment in the sun – available for a pound or two in numerous remainder shops across the UK now, but still overpriced. Hutton confirmed his position as a China-numpty and king of the dumb punditocracy in the Observer, when he wittered on about the NPC being the most important political event of the season ever, anywhere, for a couple of thousand words. Hutton, as per usual, displaying his quite amazing lack of grasp on China.

Prime – Surprisingly Al Jazeera English had some good China coverage this year, including, notably, a great series of documentaries: Moving China – on the plight of migrant workers. Click here to see. Also, house points to Al Jazeera English for being one of the few media organisations to question the Arup dodgy Dongtan project.

There are currently 5 Comments for Best and worst of the China hacks.

Comments on Best and worst of the China hacks

Did you apply for a job at the BBC and get knocked about?

SinaSource, it is highly unlikely that the people behind Access Asia who compiled this list have any chips on their shoulders about the BBC.

But even if they did have chips on their shoulders, it seems even more unlikely that they would give the BEEB two "Prime Awards". In case you had not noticed, "Prime" means good, "Sub-prime" means bad. Tricky concepts, I know.

Dear Access Asia:

Why did you neglect to add THE ECONOMIST? That is bottom-line the #1 PRIME publication. This list is NOT complete without them.

Richard {look at me, listen to me, my ego requires it!] Quest...ahhhhhhh poke my eyes out with a pencil and plug my ears with concrete! At least his ranting gives me the time to call mom and then and make a cup of tea.

Hard to disagree with much on that list.

I didn't think there were words to describe just how awful Will Hutton's 'analysis' of China is, but AA's "a China-numpty and king of the dumb punditocracy" comes pretty close...

China Media Timeline
Major media events over the last three decades
Danwei Model Workers
The latest recommended blogs and new media
From 2008
Front Page of the Day
A different newspaper every weekday
From the Vault
Classic Danwei posts
+ Culture and corporate propaganda in Soho Xiaobao (2007.11): Mid-2007 issues of Soho Xiaobao (SOHO小报), illustrating the complicated identity of in-house magazines run by real estate companies.
+ Internet executives complain about excessive Net censorship (2010.03): Internet executives complain about excessive Net censorship at an officially sanctioned meeting in Shenzhen.
+ Crowd-sourced cheating on the 2010 gaokao (2010.06): A student in Sichuan seeks help with the ancient Chinese section of this year's college entrance exam -- while the test is going on!
Danwei Archives