Foreign media on China

Nonsense journalism in The Spectator

Britain's Spectator magazine has published a piece by Aidan Hartley about petitioners in Beijing titled The terrible secrets of Beijing's black jails. Petioners are people who come to the capital to petition the central government to sort out problems caused by or ignored by provincial or village authorities. The petitioners are justly a favorite subject of the foreign press: they are people whose stories reveal the terrible inequities behind the Chinese economic miracle.

However, Mr Hartley seems to have drunk some kind of paranoia-inducing Kool Aid. If you have spent any time in Beijing, see if the below excerpt from Hartley's article makes any sense:

Not just in that black jail, but everywhere I went in Beijing I met unhappy people. Some wept hysterically, standing in front of demolished homes from which they had been evicted to make way for Olympic redevelopments and waving petitions for justice that never get heard. They stood in piles of faeces dumped on their doorsteps by ruthless developers. And all the time I saw police and thugs in dark glasses disperse gatherings of any kind, even funerals.

Many of the cowed people I saw were elderly or handicapped. Yet the authorities appeared terrified if they formed any kind of gathering. Discontent seethes just below the surface and graffiti attacking the system adorn walls. Police vehicles are at every street corner.

This nonsense does nothing to address the legitimate grievances of petitioners. It is activist journalism at its shoddiest.

UPDATE: The video is online here.

There are currently 77 Comments for Nonsense journalism in The Spectator.

Comments on Nonsense journalism in The Spectator

gathering elderly people = doing tai chi

graffiti adorning the walls = adverts for fake certificates

police vehicles at every street corner = audi driver sounding his horn cos he's late for dinner

Well, I guess we will be able to see if what he writes makes sense. Apparently Hartley and co filmed what they saw, as explained in the article. "Aidan Hartley’s film for Unreported World will be broadcast on Channel 4 at 7.30 p.m. on 19 October."

I assume the writer went to Beijing with a fixed goal: to uncover a dark aspect of life in Beijing. If a journalist is sent to China to write a story on, say, how people are evicted from their homes so that Beijing can present a facade to the world, he may not spend his time sipping lychee dacqaries (never can spell that) at Q Bar or browsing for hip trinkets at Dashanzi.

When he writes "everywhere I went in Beijing I met unhappy people", he is not saying Beijing is a city packed to the gills with unhappy people. He is saying that the people he met in the places he needed to visit - for that story - were unhappy.

You can argue that he is not showing the big picture of Beijing life. And I'll admit that his comments about defiant grafitti and cops on every corner could be a mite exaggerated. But if such places as these black jails exist - and I lean towards being convinced - then I humbly suggest, Jeremy, that your outrage is aimed in the wrong direction.

On a lighter note: one thing I notice among many western friends who live in Beijing is that they are always so keen to swing to that city's defence and wash over its many faults. You mention the "foreign press" in a way that suggests you are Chinese.

Though not quite Stockholm Syndrome, there are similarities. And I think it about time to define this unusual medical/mental condition with a name. Capital Complex?

Best wishes ...

no gary, when he writes "everywhere I went in Beijing I met unhappy people" the suggestion clearly is that he believes Beijing to be full of unhappy people.

If he wanted to mean what you want him to mean, he could have easily written "In all the areas I visited that were scheduled for demolition I met unhappy people." perfectly reasonable, probably true. Or was his hotel full of unhappy people, was the airport full of tearful old ladies (apart from those waving goodbye to departing children), did he find gloom in every restaurant he ate at?

this man is a journalist and knows exactly what message his words communicate. I am pretty sure he knew exactly what impression of Beijin/China he wanted to communicate to his British audience. After all, bad news is good reading.

Actually this does sound like Beijing - if its the part of Beijing that you choose to look at. Mr. Goldkorn probably spends most of his time working with his clients and media contacts in Beijing's star hotels and restaurants, not digging around the dirty underside of the police state. As for police everywhere, they certainly have been for the past two weeks.

I tend to agree with Gary, somewhat.

While I am proud of Beijing and am happy to call it home, I do sense that the longer residents stay in the city, the more they are willing to look past its faults. I have no doubt that Adrian Harley saw what he claimed to see, and that he found unhappy people. I would submit that this aspect of his reporting is probably spot-on. That being said, as we are aware, there are also happy people here, great food, good shopping, vibrant nightlife, etc.

There has been a tendency on this website to criticize the foreign media whenever a piece of journalism emerges that is not glowing in its praise of Beijing. Perhaps it is not only Mr. Harley that must re-learn the art of fair, balanced, and responsible journalism.

Mike,

I understand your ... position. I do disagree, however, with your opinion. Wholeheartedly.

You say, "no gary, when he writes "everywhere I went in Beijing I met unhappy people" the suggestion clearly is that he believes Beijing to be full of unhappy people.

Surely you can see that "Everywhere I went in Beijing" does not mean all of Beijing.

AND, most importantly, you are missing the point.

The point is that black jails may exist.

And you are denying, or ignoring, that fact to stick up for your adopted home town. You will accept no crticism of the town you call home.

You are suffering from Capital Complex.

My regards, Gary

And please, don't get me wrong. I've enjoyed many a lychee dacqaree, dacakaree ... whatever ... up at Q Bar. G

How could Hartley be telling a lie? A respected journo, for example, I had my funeral broken up in Beijing last week and had to reschedule to september 2008.

>>Police vehicles are at every street corner.

Oh how I wish this were true! They could do something about the traffic, for starters! What's the use of a dictatorship if you can't make anyone follow the rules, eh?

Seriously though, there is certainly discontent "seething below the surface" in Beijing, and graffiti "attacking the system" is indeed common.

But those two things are true of every large city in the world. I would be amazed and surprised if they _weren't_ true of Beijing! That would make Chinese people truly different from others.

As the man sings: every fucking city feels the same...

Not one of the comments here - or Jeremy's original post - are angry about the possibilty (or the likelihood) of these black jails.

And that, I think, says much. Gary

I do not deny the existence of black jails, organ trading, government malfeasance, corruption, oppression of the peasants, restrictions on freedom of expression, environmental destruction, labor abuses etc.

But look at the picture this article paints of Beijing:

They stood in piles of faeces dumped on their doorsteps by ruthless developers. And all the time I saw police and thugs in dark glasses disperse gatherings of any kind, even funerals...

...An ancient city has been almost totally razed and rebuilt, all in the name of amateur athletics...

...Right now, though, Beijing looks like a disaster zone.

...Presumably because things are so bad in the city, the IOC now denies ever having linked sport and human rights.

(Emphasis added.)

As I wrote at the bottom of the post, this nonsense does nothing to address the legitimate grievances of petitioners, and only detracts from the credibility of his descriptions of black jails and the people who suffer in them.

Jeremy ... rather than rage about a hack who upset you, rage about people being locked up for simply demanding their rights. Surely, surely that would be more worthwhile.

"There has been a tendency on this website to criticize the foreign media whenever a piece of journalism emerges that is not glowing in its praise of Beijing. Perhaps it is not only Mr. Harley that must re-learn the art of fair, balanced, and responsible journalism."
---CAM

TRUE. As an employee of the most "fair and balanced" company in the world (insert laughter here) I would agree that this is the case. Why are you so defensive. This country here just like all countries has many problems. The magnitude of the problems in this place is tenfold with the preparations for the upcoming sporting event.

The question I have always had is why does anything need to be "fair and balanced"? Why NOT just show things the way they are and avoid the commentary altogether?

It's important that everyone gets their facts straight - just like you should have got your facts straight when you started picking on the reporter - he's Aidan, not Adrian Hartley. Maybe we should all wait for the documentary to come out and see what he has on camera - this article is promoting a film, after all.

[Thanks. Fixed. --JM]

The police on every corner aspect is easily explained away: Party Congress. I live near Tian'anmen, and as such, I have seen a significant increase over the past couple of weeks. But that's to be expected. But in that same police presence that I walk by every day, I also have to tip-toe through crowds of smiling, vibrant people taking in their own cultural heritage. So I can only assume that Mr. Hartley only took in the sampling of the people who had an axe to grind.

Overall, I can understand the slanted view that the writer took, given that he has likely not spent much time here, and is accustomed to living his life in a highly developed and industrialized nation. That, and I've found more often than not (with a few notable exceptions) that the British press generally have an axe to grind with China. Still peeved about the Hong Kong handover? Who knows.

I say again ...

Not one of the comments here - or Jeremy's original post - are angry about the possibilty (or the likelihood) of these black jails.

Not one of the comments here...

I guess we just all agree with you, Gary Jones, that they're not really anything to become upset about.

Seriously, one of the reasons that the Spectator piece is disappointing - to someone who's angry at the conditions in the petitioners' village and the way the local authorities have handled things - is that the author's hyperbole about Beijing outside of the black jails casts doubt on the veracity of his reporting inside the black jails. It dilutes the power that his reporting could have had had he reported solely on the black jails themselves.

But video's a powerful thing, and it's likely that there'll be enough rage to go around once those images come out.

You really won't commit at Danwei, will you. You know where your bread is buttered.

Gary, not to be too direct about it, but what's your fucking point? Here's a report from my recent biz trip to the US:

Not just in Gitmo, but everywhere I went in the US I met unhappy people. Some wept hysterically, standing in front of demolished homes from which they had been evicted after Katrina and waving petitions for justice that never get heard. And all the time I saw police and thugs in dark glasses disperse gatherings of any kind; a quiet gathering of friends that spilled marginally on to the boardwalk at a popular LA beach resulted in several arrests.
Many of the cowed people I saw were elderly or handicapped. And the street people! Never have I seen so many, not even in the third world! Discontent seethes just below the surface and graffito attacking the system adorn walls. Police vehicles cruise incessantly, ironically mostly in rich neighborhoods. I couldn't help asking myself what they were afraid of if not the deep inequality in their own society.

Can you feel me?

No-one is commenting on the "black jails" because it's NOT NEWS. Yes there is a marginalized underclass in China that gets shafted every day of the week and twice on the weekends. Yes there are people who the system has crushed. That's true of England, Australia, Canada, the US, fuck that's true of everywhere.

Which is what, at the heart of the matter, is wrong with the original report. The reporter could be talking about anywhere and yet it's written as if these problems are unique to China, or especially bad in China (both incorrect) and worse, as Jeremy said, the article will do absolutely NOTHING to assist the people it's written about written in that tone.

Which is a pity, because you could take the same "facts" and write an article that would actually stand a chance of assisting them by increasing the pressure on the Chinese government to handle the "partitioner problem" better than it does.

I await the film, but I think I'll find I've seen it before...

Here's a thing ... and I'm laughing while I write this, so please don't get all uppity and defensive ...

Why don't you stick a daft yellow hard-hat on your head .. or a funny false moustache?Fake boobs? Plastic dreadlocks? Maybe then you will have the balls to go and report on something important in China, instead of moaning about those who make the effort.

Sensationalist reporting it may be, and Joel has a point that less sensation might have been more effective, but to say it "does nothing to address the legitimate grievances of petitioners" definately wins the prize for nonsense journalism.

Ok, open challenge.

Can anyone, including the journo in question who will surely be sent a link to this discussion, give the address or location of someone standing aggrieved standing in faeces?

Looking forward to visiting the aggrieved and recommending they stand a little to the left or the right of the faeces.

Support Comrade 金玉米

I have considered comrade 金玉米 a good comrade ever since I stumbled upon Danwei's Video Programs on Youtube a few months ago. I liked the Hutong Reports and Sexy Beijing series so much that I immediately wrote up a short recommendation and sent it to all the professors who are interested in China (for either personal or professional reasons) I knew in our school. Here it is part of it.

………..The episodes add up to about 2 hours of viewing. I watched them all last night. The materials are fascinating in themselves. They may also be useful for those who are teaching cultural biases, perspective-taking and cross-cultural communications.

These are not amateur videos shot on tourist trips, but professionally made by a Mandarin-speaking, White South African (Jeremy Goldkorn) who has lived in Beijing since 1995, and is serious about making his fortune in the Chinese New Media business. (Checkout his website on Chinese Culture, Media and Urban life: http://www.danwei.org).

I have been monitoring American Media’s coverage of China since the late 90s. Prior to 2000, there was practically no coverage, except for some crisis, like the midair collision between a Chinese fighter jet and American spy plane. Since 2000, there has been an explosion of coverage, dominated by three orientations. The first is the political orientation (represented by New York Times and Washington Post), aimed at informing the policy makers and opinion leaders (the “elite”) in the west on the Western establishment’s agenda (be it liberal or conservative). The second orientation is commercial interests (The Wall Street Journal), which of course can never be apolitical. These guys hate the commies but love their money, so their discussions are unavoidably schizophrenic. The third orientation is to feed the prevalent parochial, provincial narrow-mindedness (think about the stuff you see on TV). The first two orientations are serious and informative. I don’t know what to say about the third.

The grass-root journalism practiced by Goldkorn at Danwei offers a useful alternative in that it is more detached from the institutional agendas. The main constraint to his view is his cultural and personal perspective, which I find in fact rather enlightening.

He lives among the Chinese and takes his cameras to the living quarters of the poorest inner-city neighborhoods. His communication with the old-timers in the hood is easy and smooth. His understanding of the Chinese society is more historical and penetrating than many Chinese. I don’t know what his training is. I suspect it was in Mass-Communications. The camerawork is less than perfect but gives the viewer a sense of personal presence in the scene. The range and depth of his observations are impossible for any journalist who is part of the “establishment” - how the demolition of the old Hutong neighborhoods affects the residents, how the residents cope with these changes, how people express themselves in traditional and new media and new-age “Art festivals” of dubious taste, how the Chinese embrace Christmas celebration while leaving out its religious content. His treatment is personal, with genuine care about the individual, rather than ideological. He also covers Foreigners living and working in Chinese cities (which is a quite colorful community), e.g., business executives, aspiring entrepreneurs, Bohemian artists...

Jeremy, it looks like the article has now been completely cleaned up. None of the text you quoted in the post or in the above comment ("Beijing looks like a disaster zone") exists in the article anymore. I wonder what happened? Maybe an editor saw this post and realized how absurd the broad generalities of a weeping, miserable Beijing are. "Black jails" are one thing, but to portray all of Beijing as a massive black jail - frightened, miserable, oppressed by merciless totalitarian thugs - is absurd.

gary jones, parachute journalist and editor of a golf magazine (!) giving danwei a lecture about integrity!

"the British press generally have an axe to grind with China"

The reality is that "the British press", along with the foreign media generally, give China a remarkably easy ride given the scale of human rights abuse. Journalists (and more specifically their editors) working for Murdoch, Time Inc, or any of the other multinational media organisations, routinely self-censor their China coverage. All the big media players have been greedily eyeing up China for years, and they're not going to let their own staff compromise their efforts to tap into what they (possibly mistakenly) perceive as a very lucrative potential market.

"gary jones, parachute journalist and editor of a golf magazine (!) giving danwei a lecture about integrity! "

All you commenting on here and writing on here are parachute journalists.

Not just Gary Jones...or even Gary Jones in particular.

What is wrong with golf magazines...what does golf and integrity have to do with each other?

Because he writes about a boring-ass "sport" doesn't mean he can cry foul when there is one.

Why are you all attacking Gary Jones.

The one point he made that Danwei tends to hate anything critical of this place is dead-on. He was right. Danwei hates people critical of china.

And to the dumbass comparing present China and the US post-Katrina is asinine. One thing is the result of the iron fist and the other the result of mother nature. And furthermore, Americans came together and helped those affected by Katrina...a testimony to Americans giving a shit about their fellow man---something you more often than not will not find here.


I can honestly say I have never ever written anything about parachutes. Wrote a piece hot-air ballooning in Kathmandu once.

Richard - those phrases still appear to be there in the article on page 2.

And to the critics, I would argue that Danwei is helping raise awareness of the issue by linking to the article with the footnote that it should be taken with a grain of salt. I'm looking forward to seeing the video now.

It's still there, Richard, on Page 2.

fritz, maybe danwei just doesn't like people being stupidly critical of china. this article and its misrepresentations is exactly the type of piece the patriots like to hold up when showing how the foreign press holds an unbalanced anti-china agenda. Like someone said, the message - black jails - gets lost in the rant.

gary - maybe I am being pedantic but I don't see how 'everywhere i went in beijing' can mean anything less than every place the author visited in beijing. and like I said, the restaurants, the hotel, the taxi, the walk around the shops...all those unhappy people. If he didn't mean to generalise, would have been so hard to have written: "In some (many) places I visited.." It is bad journalism. End of.

And capital complex? Not realy, I couldn't wait to leave.

Shan,

Bad day at the office? Take a deep breath or two. Honestly, I promise you ... just calm down. There, there. Everything is going to be just fine.

But ... "Can you feel me?" What does that mean?

And I never knew you could swear and rant like a loon on Danwei. Good news.

Mike ... I can see your point regarding "everywhere". My apologies for linking you into the Capital Complex bunch. I was too hasty.

BUT if you (and others) will read my original post, the key sentence was that Jeremy's outrage was aimed in the wrong direction. He aimed his ire at the writer, and not at the injustice taking place.

The day I read anything on Danwei that uncovers a great injustice in China, and not another comfy Beijing-laowai rant about a foreign hack who went into China to uncover such an injustice (cos the local press can't do it), then I will gleefully not bother Danwei again.

Answer this (not just for mike, but for all): when did you ever see Danwei rage and rant against a piece in a Chinese newspaper? It will giggle, but never vent its spleen in the same way it will against "foreign media".

Thanks, G

ahh but he might not have "met" the people in the restaurants, the hotel, the taxi, the walk around the shops, simply brushed past in a funk after leaving the black prison...Gary has a point

>>And to the dumbass comparing present China and the US post-Katrina is asinine.

No, sorry, you get an F in reading comprehension.

I'll spell it out for you: the dumbass journalist writing text that could equally apply to both situations with a simply cut'n'paste of the place name is asinine.

>>Danwei hates people critical of china.

That's not even wrong. On the front page, right now, are several articles critical of China. If you're going to lie & smear, at least lie & smear cleverly or at worst amusingly, mmmkay?

Just like in the song, Beijing is full of "Shiny Happy People Holding Hands."

"Can you feel me?"

Ahhh.

Having carried out a swift survey down the pub, I believe I may have an idea what you are talking about, Shan, when you ask, "Can you feel me?"

Terribly sorry, but I will have to decline your kind offer. I don't know where you've been (though certainly not to Gitmo).

Regards, G

>>And I never knew you could swear and rant like a loon on Danwei.

You must be new here...

;)

After reading the article I think that Jeremy's reaction is focusing too much on that one paragraph, which despite being ridiculous (sure he only says "everywhere he went" he saw unhappy people, but he doesn't say where he went, and he uses the faeces line twice...), isn't reflective of the rest of the article which describes the reporter's personal experience investigating a touchy subject. Considering the complaints Reporters without Borders has made about the lack of media freedom foreign journalists have had after Beijing said it would allow full access, I see little reason to disbelieve the specific details of the one dramatic event being described. The glittering generalities of that one paragraph are indeed nonsense, but they take up only a small portion of the article are it's written so poorly it seems to be tacked on as an afterthought--not worth anyone's attention.

That said, Danwei isn't a site for investigative journalism--it looks at the media, marketing and advertising, explicitly noted in the title banner. For those commenting here in mock wonder about when Danwei will begin to expose the great injustices of China, there are already tons of sites on which you can find that information, so why put that burden on Danwei's shoulders?

And if you seriously need Danwei to rage and rant about the abysmal quality of Chinese reporting in order to validate your own perceptions, you are in dire need of some self-confidence and perhaps a slight tap on the head--Chinese media is so blatantly and obviously bad and corrupt (I work in PR here, so I know) that pointing it out is like calling the sky blue--or hazy gray if you're in Beijing.

I ain't seen this kind of nonsense reporting.

The propaganda I get to see everything goes amongst the lines of "城中村". It's about sort of run-down-ish or less-than-glitzy buildings. (More about the first one than the second one.) They said that the "village in the city" (which is what those characters really mean) are bad, and that they must go.

AGREE WITH THE GUYS AT THE TOP -- It's not just a Chinese thing. Or a Beijing thing. Go across all of China, you'll find super-glitzy buildings in the center of any respectable city. Even central Tangshan and Zhangjiakou can get glitzy. Glitziness is the new Chinese world order, especially in the center of town. Look at places outside our frontiers; look at North Korea. Sure, it seems to be kind of "engineered", but Pyongyang is far glitzier than other North Korean cities (note: I haven't been to North Korea but have been looking at the place through images, travel reports, and a wide array of sources, both reliable and otherwise, for quite a few years). Beijing is gonna be one big international city, and those guys at the top naturally have the "rights" to look "more and more glitzy". The folks who move out certainly don't agree, as is the case with "activist journalists", but hey -- we're talking about growing pains.

DISAGREE WITH THE GUYS AT THE TOP -- 装修 -- renovation services -- are all the rage. Why not spare the extra buck, quid or kuai or two and repair the whole place? We're talking about those same people who transform 50s-ish buildings into wannabe palaces fit for Her Majesty. The renovators can easily do their deed. But then again, do those people that live in those "villages in the city" have the greenbacks?

I've been outside the 6th Ring Road. I've seen county towns have the same glitzy center. Look at Mentougou. Anywhere near central eastern Mentougou will look very glitzy. They're building two new towers at Shuangyu Roundabout. We're talking about roundabouts smack in the middle of Mentougou, right next to the rocks (ie mountains). Ditto for even Yanqing. This is a county, not a district. And what do we see when we're in urban Yanqing? Nearly the same as central Beijing on a good day.

There is probably no point in arguing with a determined "activist journalist" whose task is to look Beijing look stupid. Through his incomplete reports, the worst thing that can happen is that he himself looks stupid. I've been across a lot of Beijing's national, municipal and county highways (to wit: I'm throwing names of villages some of you may have a hard time locating; Yanchi, anyone? Fangmachang? Taishitun? Yujiawu? Yanshan? Hebei? (not the province)...) so, not to sound rude/arrogant or anything like that, but I've seen it all (or to be more accurate, most of it) and I guess I know what I'm on about...

Beijing is not what this "activist" is talking about.

It's not journalism, just narrow-minded opinions. From the article you learn more about the writer's emotions than about the places, people and events that supposedly invoked these emotions. The miserable stories he told about China were what he really wished would happen to China. He wants bad things happen to China so badly that he could not tell his wishful thinking from reality. He was not alone in the West. (Check out my old posting on death of hong kong in the fortune magazine. That cover story is an all time classic.)

Where do these negative feelings come from? I wonder. Well, rivalry breeds contempt. Rivalry breeds bitterness when you have to watch your rival doing better and better by the day and there is nothing you can do about it. You should check out this video where Charlie Ross interviewed three china-hands. Watch that Perry Link dude from Princeton, pay close attention to his facial expression, his quivering and shaky voice. He was hurting so much and trying so hard to conceal it, using contempt, disdain and dismissiveness as a disguise to hide his misery. But his attempt at implementing these aggressive emotions was sabotaged by his misery, which was rotting and weakening him from inside and rendering his entire display clownish. Oh man, it must hurt like a bitch for this dude that China did not fall apart like the Soviet Union. Why didn’t China descend into a chaos with millions of people displaced???? Perry Link was readying himself to shower his patronizing pity all over them; he had been waiting with anticipation since 1989. Now the Chinese are good good study and day day up. How did that happen? Watching his torment I was immensely pleased, almost like when I got my first date years ago. His misery and his failed attempt at hiding it seeped into my heart like milk and honey, nourishing my Chinese identity, making it grow so big that I could hardly contain it in my chest. I want the whole world know I am Chinese.
Perry Link is here:

This is better than the Spectator story. This is even better than the "Death of Hong Kong" story in the Fortune Magazine. I have never had the pleasure to inspect Mr. Death to Hong Kong's picture. But this dude Perry Link was there on TV for a full 30 minute session writhing with misery. He will learn to cope with it, wont' he? He is trying so hard. He is such a good boy. I want to pat him on his cheek and tell him that.

There is also a piece of Charlie Ross interviewing He Yafei, the under-secretary of foreign affairs. Oh man He Yafei was good; you can tell from the white trash insights he generated in Charlie Ross' comments section. link

just for info, Hartley doesn't live in a developed industrial nation, as someone said, he lives in Kenya (has done most of his life). He covered East Africa, including the long wars in Somalia and the genocide in Rwanda, for Reuters, before recently turning to tv.
He's a disaster journalist by profession. You can look at that two ways. On the one hand, he's culturally on the look out for misery and baton-wielding goons, perhaps sees them everywhere. On the other, it makes it hard to argue either that he's got it in for China particularly some way or that he's a novice who's been overwhelmed by one bad experience.
The trouble with saying about journalism like this that it's basically true but only gives a partial view is that this is exactly what I think that China has got to gear up for. Despite what people like bianxiangbianqiao say, I think there's much more of an attempt to "put China in context" by resident corrs than other countries get, but corrs visiting in advance of the Olympics will do what they do everywhere - go in and show the bad bits without feeling the need to say "actually most Chinese are very nice and of course the country is in a state of complex change and development" and that stuff. News is bad news, period. The point is precisely that America got hammered in the international media over its response to Katrina, and China gets hammered over things like this.
As for bxbq's conviction that there's a Get China message out there, by an international media determined to put America in a good light, I can only assume he never reads anything written by foreign corrs in America. Meanwhile, as for china, many editors try to get reporters to write less about human rights because readers find it boring. Reporters try anyway because they feel a duty to do so. Sorry if that sounds too idealistic.
Let China be China, you say: I totally agree, and sometimes I sympathise with you - I really do - it must be tough when you live abroad and have to read hostile stuff about your own country all the time. But then, yesterday, I was in one of those ridiculous outside lift things in Beijing and as I went up I saw the top of a newish building I'd only seen from ground level before. It's a standard ugly red brick high rise - but the top five or six floors of twenty or so are faced with a full imitation Greek temple - white concrete columns, pediment, frieze etc. And I thought - too bloody right, let China be China, so why knock down hundreds of Chinese style homes, kick out all the old people who live there to some godawful place in the suburbs, and build a piece of quasi-western crap with a Greek temple on top? The Chinese should sort out China, I agree, and very few ordinary Chinese I know would have gone for that if they'd had any choice in the matter.

Richard,

Thanks a lot for the information. I fully agree with your arguments about the limits to balance and objectivity that can be achieved by individual journalists. However, these arguments relate to only one function of your profession (assuming you are a journalist). There is another function of journalism that you and your colleagues are avoiding, that is, journalism as a way of self-expression, a way of constructing and reaffirming your personal and cultural identity. In international journalism, this amounts to building the cultural and national narrative of who you are and what you believe in - your ideology. Western journalism places ideology about any care to human story in their China report. They use the suffering and misery of the Chinese people as a tool of reaffirming the glory of their faith and way of life, their superiority over third-world low lives, their position as God's chosen people. They portray the Chinese as victims that cannot help themselves and waiting for Western redemption. It's all about them. They do not care a bit about the Chinese. From the Hartley report (now I cannot mention his name without having vomit welling up in my throat), you learn a great deal more about him than about the plight of the ordinary Chinese people he supposedly report on. And he does it in such a crass and crude way. Look at the words he used, standing in ponds of feces, dark glasses….

I am not saying Chinese tragedies are taboo materials for foreign journalism, far from it. However, people's tragedy deserves a treatment that is sensitive and respectful. The NHK documentary "China in a Torrent" treats this issue with sensitivity and respect. The poor migrant workers' story was beyond anything I have experienced or witnessed. The way the stories were told was not offensive at all. The reporter maintains a respectful distance from the characters. He was sensitively absent from the whole narrative. There was no value judgment. If the narration were not in Japanese, you would never figure out who did the report. It was the migrant workers' story. It was all about them. In the Western media, you always have these obnoxious, crass and crude white jerks or white bitches in your face, dehumanizing the suffering of third-word losers. That is extremely offensive and distasteful to me. Watching NHK piece, I was saddened by the migrant workers' plight, angered by the desperation and injustice imposed on them by their society. At the same time I was filled with pride that we Chinese have such decent and hard working people. The dignity in their struggle to take care of their old and their young humbled me and made me a better person. I was helped by the migrant workers. On the other hand, the Western media make these people a bunch of low lives in need of Western redemption.
Sometimes I feel only the East Asians are capable of deep genuine connection with each other and care for each other at a purely individual level (personal experiences with people from all over the world in America supports this feeling). In our part of the world, there is no God that is the absolute. Supernatural beings are our neighbors, not our Lord. They need respect, just like another person does, no more and no less. This is the root of true secular humanism. Unfortunately we Chinese have never had the right conditions for practicing this secular humanism. But we have the roots all the same. I know that from the acts of kindness I received and observe others receive from total strangers growing up in Beijing in the 70s and 80s. There is something about the Western Culture that is crass and crude to the core. Donald Trump and Paris Hilton are mighty rich. But they still cannot shake off that trashy look; they look like straight from a trailer park. When this transhiness is used in reporting the plight of my folks, I am angry as hell.

In my younger days I would hide these thoughts for fear of hurting people's feelings. But the longer I live among the Westerners, the more I feel that you guys are just not that a sensitive bunch. So maybe it doesn’t matter to speak my mind.

A few key words were missing in my last post:

... I fully agree with your arguments about the limits to balance and objectivity that can be achieved by individual journalists. However, these arguments relate to only one function of your profession (assuming you are a journalist), the function to inform. There is another function of journalism that you and your colleagues are avoiding in this discussion, that is, journalism as a way of self-expression,....

Here is the film - http://www.veoh.com/videos/v1357069DKZqmaty

Thanks for that, Keyulian.

Interesting and thought-provoking telly, I think.

------------------------

Somebody above actually said ... "No-one is commenting on the "black jails" because it's NOT NEWS"

Jeez. I despair.

-------------------------

And another post above somehow manages to squeeze Paris Hilton and Donald Trump into a discussion about the possibilty that black jails might exist in Beijing. Now that's a major tangent, or some serious drugs.

[combined multiple posts. --JM]

So, what do the rest of you think?

"Nonsense journalism", as claimed by Danwei?

>>Right now, though, Beijing looks like a disaster zone.

Well, that sounds about right anyway. After you've lived there for a few years, you become inured to the bombed-out, war zone charm. You tend to forget your first impression. So they send some journalist over and he sees things with the eyes you lost long ago. Of course that will seem completely distorted once you no longer notice people brushing their teeth on the sidewalks -- just like it does to most Chinese. Reminds me of New Yorkers and the subway. It's a urine-soaked hellhole rat jamboree (I don't know about feces -- maybe). Send a Chinese reporter over to NYC and see what you get. Probably a city full of miserable people standing in puddles of urine bitching about the government. Say that to most New Yorkers and they'll go apeshit over how biased you are.

Anyhow, as long as Danwei also takes reporters to task when they churn out articles about how "modern" and full of hope and malls Beijing is...you do that, right?

And as for Danwei's new and self-important little headline pointing to this discussion - " Sloppy journalism vs Party stooge" ...

Who has called Danwei a Party stooge? Nobody that I can see.

Now that, truly, is nonsense. And that, though not journalism by any degree, is sloppy.

Regards, G

So, what do the rest of you think?

Here is the short doco that started this thread.

"Nonsense journalism", as claimed by Danwei?

>>"Nonsense journalism", as claimed by Danwei?

Yep. That is a 100% accurate assessment.

Having viewed the video, I put it to you that it does not, in fact, show what the reporter says it shows. The "black jail" in the first scene, for example, looks an awful lot like the "drunk tank" at the copshop in Wudaokou, where they put people overnight to sleep it off.

Rather than make any attempt to communicate with anyone, the reporter yells idiotic questions like "Are you TORTURING PEOPLE?!?" over the top of someone who is speaking to his interpreter, and makes moronic statements that contradict his own visuals "There are 20 PEOPLE in there!!!!" Um, how many?! And how many open doors are there leading off this fenced yard?

Yeah. Real quality work there. It's a total hit piece, with no attempt at framing or context, that is simply shoddy in every sense of the word.

>>Who has called Danwei a Party stooge? Nobody that I can see.

"FRITZ" wrote: "Danwei hates people critical of china." You weren't looking too hard, were you?

Sloppy journalism is a very apt term. The sloppy work is the logical result of low-quality people. All human traits are normally distributed. By definition half of any population is below average in intelligence and any competence or skill. (Here are some words of wisdom: If the average fella is bad, the below average is even worse.) I have always wondered what kind of Western journalists China gets to cover its people and events. How is the West prioritizing its allocation of precious journalistic talent over the world? Are we getting the wrong tail of the normal curve? Hard to tell. I am sure there are brilliant ones in BJ and SH. But it's always the lowest of lows that gets your attention.

I was writing on this some time ago:
"I only had a brief encounter with (Western journalists) in the 90s at the World Women’s Congress in Beijing's Asian Games village. I was at the hall where Western journalists were waiting to be ushered inside a partitioned restricted area and get registered. The way they presented and conducted themselves would definitely give you some inkling about the street thugs, petty criminals, and other types of human garbage roaming their hometowns. One dude was in a tank top. I swear to Chairman Mao the place reeked stale booze and fresh piss. A bad taste still lingers in my mouth from the vulgarity in the way they harassed the lone young Chinese chap at the entrance trying to prevent them from forcing themselves into the restricted registration area, at least some in their drunken wisdom. I have learned a very apt word describing this type of people in America - but I am not going to say it here."

I heard China has been moving up the ladder in prestige. Are we also getting a different crowd of Western journalists? The gap between the "real deal" and the "not quite" is so obvious.

Donald Trump and Paris Hilton are highly relevant to this topic. Compared to some Western Journalists we get in China, Don and Pairs look almost regal.

"And another post above somehow manages to squeeze Paris Hilton and Donald Trump into a discussion about the possibilty that black jails might exist in Beijing. Now that's a major tangent, or some serious drugs."

Naw naw naw. I don’t do drugs. Did you do some in San Li Tun?

Black jails? Naw, simply an overnight detention center. All those miserable people in the video, they're really happy! Shoddy Western journalism! It's all a Western conspiracy, I mean, a journalist who doesn't know any Mandarin must surely have found his story leads through other conniving Westerners. I am as sure about this as I am sure that executed criminals willingly, and with great pride, donate their entire bodies over in the name of "redemption."

All Western journalism is sloppy owing to the low quality of their Western DNA. This is so, since according to the nonfactual and illogical sentence posted above, "All human traits are normally distributed. By definition half of any population is below average in intelligence and any competence or skill." Never mind that the poster hasn't got a clue as to what statistical averages actually mean, this really proves a point, I don't know what point it is, but it must prove something.

As a clarification to my below comment...
"Danwei hates people critical of china."
***Note I used a lower-case "c" for china and not an upper-case "C" for China...
Danwei hates when people are critical of fine dishware...that is what I meant.

Stupidest comment ever posted by "sloppy journalism come from trashy journalists " on October 27, 2007 1:33 AM

"By definition half of any population is below average in intelligence and any competence or skill."

If half of a population is stupid and that half represents the majority THEN they can't be "below average"...they would be THE AVERAGE.

I am offended that you questioned my clue of the meaning of the statistical mean. I don’t know where you got your freaking clue but mine was from actually eyeballing a normal curve years ago in my first college stats class in bj. The normal curve is symmetrical and if you cut it in half at the mean you get 50 percent to the left 50 percent to the right. The mean itself is a point not a range. If you look at a normal distribution table, you would find the mean itself has no frequency (0.000)…… I am not going to give you a lesson on intro to statistics. There is nothing nonfactual or illogical in saying "half of the population is below the mean." 50% of the population is indeed below the freaking mean. There is nothing wrong with being below-average. Every person on this earth can live a decent and productive life. But below-average people should not be allowed to report on the tragedy of the Chinese people; it's distasteful. Like I said people's tragedy needs to be handled with empathy, respect and sensitivity. You don’t want a moron to be your surgeon, or airline pilot, do you? I for one do not want crass and crude journalists to cover my folk's tragedy.

I'm not sure if there's any point in writing this, since it seems to be the usual web-forum, talking at each other and getting nowhere kind of discussion, but let's remember that this *is* The Spectator we're talking about here. I have enjoyed reading it on quite a few occasions, but it's not a magazine I trust, really. Well, British journalism in general, while usually being better written by more knowledgeable people than its American counterpart, can tend towards a more tabloid-like approach to the truth, especially The Spectator, among "respectable" outlets.

Oh so bianxiangbianqiao, wasn't it "sloppy journalism come from trashy journalists" who made the original post about Western intelligence? Or have you unwittingly admitted that you posted under that alias? Tsk tsk using several false aliases to support yourself.

Yes, indeed you have demonstrated poor analysis of statistical averages. IQ tests are normalized to produce a Gaussian distribution, however in actuality, the distribution of scores rarely follows such a perfect bell curve. The IQ average is a range with a standard deviation of 15, between 90 and 110. Someone with an IQ below the statistical average of 100, scoring say a 95, is plainly average, not below average. They certainly do not fall into a neat 50%/50% distribution of intelligence.

Your post is too funny, in trying to insult “Western reporters” for their lack of intellect you produce evidence of your ignorance, and reveal your unprincipled use of aliases to back yourself up. I wonder how many other aliases you use.

I still wonder, who are those people in the video and are they really just complaining about being locked up for being drunk?

Everlasting: while we don't want to encourage sockpuppetry here at Danwei, bianxiangbianqiao's post under an alias did not attempt to mask the link back to his/her blog, so I doubt there was any intent to deceive.

What is the objection to using aliases? Authors use them all the time. Bloggers should too.

Dear Shan,

In response to my question, "Who has called Danwei a Party stooge?" you write:

"FRITZ" wrote: "Danwei hates people critical of china." You weren't looking too hard, were you?

So you are arguing that Fritz, by suggesting that "Danwei hates people critical of china", is saying Danwei is a stooge of the Communist Party.

To be critical of an aspect of life in China does not (necessarily) equate to being critical of the Communist Party.

If I was to be critical of corruption or the growing wealth gap in China, I would not be opposing the government. The Communist Party itself has been critical of corruption and the wealth gap. The Party itself can be critical of China.

Best, G

Shan:

And when you write: "The "black jail" in the first scene, for example, looks an awful lot like the "drunk tank" at the copshop in Wudaokou" ...

I cannot comment. I, for one, have never been there.

everlasting and joel,
Why do you have to be so morbidly oversensitive like us Chinese?
As for the two aliases, blame is on the way the post a comment page is set up.

There was an error. The "morbid oversensitivity" comment was directed at FRITZ and everlasting.

I agree with a lot of what bxbq is saying. I've just watched the programme and didn't think it was very good. There were positives - you don't see much of this kind of investigative reporting in China, and with the limits that are put on it, they did well to get the material they did.

However, like bxbq, I detest the style in which it was executed. I think it's a perfect example of the dumbing-down that is going on across the British media (I'm not sure about elsewhere). The documentary is indeed as much about Aidan Hartley as about the people he films. The people are not even given the dignity of being allowed to speak directly to the audience. Everything they say is roughly paraphrased by Hartley and transferred to us through him. This is insulting both to the audience and the subject. The audience is not credited with the intelligence or patience required to read subtitles, and the subject ends up as just another foreigner jabbering away, with any nuance gone from what they are saying. Their words have to be interpreted for us through our guide, who holds our hand through the whole experience. It puts the audience at one extra level of removal from what is going on. To be fair, this may not be Hartley's fault because the whole Unreported World series is in this style. The result, however, is that a bit of humanity is lost. Watching it as someone who can understand what the people are saying (and thereby possibly feeling closer to them), it is quite distressing to see the way they are treated in the film. They seem like interchangeable props.

Also, I may be cynical, but i thought the camera lingered for just slightly too long on Hartley shaking hands with poor people (ooh, they probably haven't washed for weeks, how brave and humanitarian he is).

Although I'm sure most people who watched the film felt concern for the people involved, at the same time, on a less conscious level, it seems to be about experiencing life in peasantland vicariously through the reporter, who is the only one brave enough to venture into the savage Third World. It is entertainment.

everlasting,

Finally I got a couple of minutes to give you another lesson on rudimentary stats.
1. your range of "normacy" is way too narrow. Normal intelligence is not restricted to between 90 and 100. (Why 90 and 100? You said one standard deviation was 15.)If I remember correctly, the cutoff for normal IQ is around 75, about two standard deviation below your implicitly assumed mean (100?). Anyone above 75 is "just a normal person".
I am not talking about normalcy. I am talking about competence. A person with below average but abobe 75 intelligence is normal but it doesnt mean he has the competence to cover issues as serious and complex and what we have in China.
Moreover, IQ is not the quality I was focusing on. I was focusing on empathy, respect, sensitiveness, care for the individual as an end not as a tool for demonstrating god's grace and glory, a good heart, that kind of things. You highjacked my discussion and perverted the point I was trying to make. You need to grow up and stop acting like a five year old.

bianxiangbianqiao, who is acting like a petulant child here?

Regarding journalistic quality: while I believe journalists must be competent, I would not use an asinine link to DNA or IQ, like you have. Most journalistic stories, in the Western or Chinese press, frankly suffers from quality issues. But nothing is perfect, and criticism should be restricted to the specific deficiencies of the report. Comments by James R. and such illustrate this. On the contrary, all you’ve done in your posts is to level blanket insults against Western journalism. I would appreciate the Hartely’s report more, if it were done with more subtlety, and a lot less in-your-face brashness. I would also highly appreciate the use of subtitles rather than his talking over almost every interviewee’s words. Even if he was paraphrasing them accurately, it very much removes the impact of listening to their original words, in their own voices. Yet I am also alarmed and intrigued by the attitudes of the people being interviewed. They seem obviously aggrieved by something, something serious enough to compel them to talk to a foreign reporter about. This aspect seems lost of some, even though I agree with much of the criticism leveled at the reporting style.

In any case I called you out for your stupendously idiotic use of DNA and IQ. An IQ of 100 is the standardized mean, but almost 2/3 of the population falls within the range considered "normal." I also never asserted that 90-100 was the range for “normal,” I only used it as an example of one hypothetical individual (the range is 75-115). Most journalists I assume, are of average or higher IQ. IQ seems to have nothing to do with their competency, yet you were the one who made such a linkage. You then try to cover your tracks by claiming that you were only talking about competence, not intelligence. Then why did you link quality of work with the quality of a person’s IQ and DNA? You use IQ and DNA to assert that “below-average people should not be allowed to report on the tragedy of the Chinese people.” Those of “below-average quality” impliedly being Westerners. “Below-average” being those with an IQ below average. If competency was the aim of your criticism, why bring up IQ in the first place? No, you clearly linked IQ, and DNA, to competence, and tried to use it as a blanket insult.

Certainly I wasn't the one who used another alias to insult ALL Western journalists by claiming that the quality of their work was shoddy due to the low quality of their DNA.
If you indeed were focusing on "empathy, respect, sensitiveness, care for the individual" and such, then your post under "Sloppy Journalism Come from Trashy Journalists" hints at nothing of the sort. You are simply covering your tail after I hit you out for making such an absurd assertion.

I only added a comment to call you out for employing a demeaning and insulting linkage to DNA and IQ. One of the most common things I read, in both Chinese and Western posts, is that Westerners cannot possibly understand China. One insult that constantly appears sounds too similar to your own: they’re simply stupid and are people of low quality.

Everlasting,

The "different alias" accusation is ridiculous and infantile. I simply put the title of my post in the wrong textbox in a rush.

The rest of your comments are very odd, to put it mildly. A journalist does not operate in a vacuum; journalism is a social-cultural phenomenon. A journalist's style and substance are never a matter of personal choice or taste, but reflect the social-cultural environment where the communication takes place. It is odd that you ignore the context and criticize the Hartley report only on stylistic flaws (lack of subtlety and brashness). How can you limit your analyses to the "style" of one particular piece of work of one particular journalist? Are you trying to hide or avoid something? How can you refuse to look at the narrator, the audience, and the cultural context (shared values, concepts, norms and expectations) that make this TYPE of communication possible and necessary, all at the same time? By limiting the discussion to the specifics of one report, are you trying to hide something sordid about part of the culture and society you and Hartley represent?

Hartley is not alone; he is one sample from a school (population) of like-minded Western journalists, activists, and "scholars". Western journalists do not operate as individuals (nor do the Chinese ones). They have institutional agendas in their reporting. What they choose to report reflects not only what happens on the ground in China, but also what their hometown folks (at least the subset they serve) are interested in and want to learn about. HOW they report on the Chinese not only reflects their personal training or "style" but also what their (sub-) cultures and audiences expect from them ("social norms").

The heart of this debate is not poor-quality journalism. It is mean-spirit and cruelty to human suffering, the heartless and cynical exploitation of people's misfortunes. Hartley was clearly having a cheap thrill at the expense of some unfortunate people. He was using the misfortune of the Chinese poor as a means of self-promotion (as James R. correctly pointed out) - exploitation pure and simple. I would go a step further than James R to point out he was not doing it for himself (although he obviously enjoyed it personally). He was doing it for a sizable audience in the West with the same interest and taste. Who needs such sick products, and for what purpose? First and foremost I believe his audience is certainly not the entire population of "Westerners" (amen). I am not a radical who despises all Westerners.

I never made any blanket claim about Westerners' IQs (Apparently you have read the dusty old book "the Bell Curve" too many times and taken it to heart). I have never said Westerners as a population was of low quality or loaded with bad genes. When I said "all traits are distributed normally in the population… In any population …..intelligence, competence and skills…," I was referring to the population of "Western Journalists", not the population of Caucasians. (I suspect your lack of training in research methodology led you to misunderstand the term "population".) My concern about the West's allocation of its journalistic talent is perfectly legitimate. In my impression the majority of the top tier American journalists either stay home to cover the Whitehouse and presidential politics (the cool and sexy stuff), or have gone to Iraq (the stuff that really matters now). Is China getting the leftovers? What are the consequences of being low-priority in resource allocation? Is it just less-than-stellar reporting or something more profound? This is where the wonderful American concept of "trashiness" becomes so illuminating. (I pray and pray and pray that China correspondents won't get morbidly defensive and oversensitive like us hopeless Chinese. We expect more from the first-world, shouldn’t we? There is nothing personal; I just want the very best of everything for my country. Besides, I know for a fact there are superb Western journalists working on China. The Chicago Tribute piece on a trip to China's west was exemplary….My list of appreciation is long…But here I am talking about a trend, a pattern, in a population.)

Here comes the part difficult to communicate. Pray take it as constructive criticism. If my observations reflect stereotypes and prejudice of a stupid ignorant foreigner, please bash me hard; I will self-criticize, repent and reform. Having lived in the US (the current heartland of the Western civilization, home of generations of the Leaders of the Free World) for years, there are several types of places I have learned to go out of my way to avoid.

1. a church that inspires no reverence but agitates and scares,
2. a trailer park flying a confederate flag,
3. a bar with mostly motorcycles and pickup trucks instead of cars parked outside,
4. an eatery over-represented by guys in tank tops with creepy tattoos, dubious personal hygiene, excessive facial hair, plates piled high w/ BBQ meat and beer bottles dangling between greasy fingers.

Such locations (not only in the Deep South) are associated with the traditions of lynching, slavery, segregation, plantation, Jim Crow, moonshine, tobacco-chewing, adamant insistence on "intelligent design", anti-science bigotry and other fundamentalist indoctrinations (I am not even going to mention plural marriages). Some of those practices have been banned or scorned at but their spirits are still marching on. These spirits are embodied at the highest level of the American culture and politics even today (Senators Trent Lott, Strom Thurmond and Larry Craig, Reverent Ted Haggard, Congressman Mark Foley, Don Imus, Lou Dobbs, the late Anna Nicole Smith and her lawyer/partner and so forth). This is what I mean by "trashiness". Traits associated with trashiness are not evenly distributed in the Western population (fortunately). On university campuses (I mean the real ones) their open expressions are rare. In some segments of the society they (and their overt expressions) are rampant. Trashy people's needs for "information" (or "entertainment", rather) must be served. Wherever there is a demand, there will be plenty of supply, simple economics. Therefore I would not be surprised these same spirits are stirring restlessly in the bosoms of a segment of the population of Western Journalists when they are doing their "China reporting". Expecting empathy, respect and sensitivity from them is like expecting a dog to climb up a tree or a chicken to pee - "good luck".

The phenomenon I am drawing people's attention to is not one trashy journalist doing his trashy job in China. (That was the picture you, Everlasting, are trying to paint and force upon the world, deviously.) It is a contingent of trashy journalists (activists, "scholars" and politicians) who bring the entire set of trashy ideology, habits and customs to trash the misfortune of the Chinese poor, for the entertainment and "enlightenment" of a trashy audience back home. It is a package of trashiness complete with the narrator, the audience and the (sub-) culture. Now it is high time to point out the emperor's lack of clothes and stop ignoring his exposed dripping private parts.

I admire and respect (most of) the Western people. I have seen a lot of goodness and decency in them. But like you said, nothing is perfect, and there are some things profoundly imperfect in the West. I do not want the trashy elements of the West being dumped over the head of the poor, the weak and the helpless in China. They deserve as much respect as anybody else. How can I express these sentiments constructively without deeply hurting the feelings of Westerner like you? Like I said long ago and keep saying, although my words are far from music to your ears, my spirits are nothing but pristine.

Last but not least, Mr. Everlasting, bless your heart and enjoy another week in our beautiful country.

I should replace Dou Dobbs with Bill O'Rielly. I thought I missed a dude.

Bianxianbianqiao says he avoids places such as the following in the 'west'

"1. a church that inspires no reverence but agitates and scares,
2. a trailer park flying a confederate flag,
3. a bar with mostly motorcycles and pickup trucks instead of cars parked outside,
4. an eatery over-represented by guys in tank tops with creepy tattoos, dubious personal hygiene, excessive facial hair, plates piled high w/ BBQ meat and beer bottles dangling between greasy fingers."

MY MOM AND I WOULD LIKE TO SAY THAT WE DON'T WANT YER KIND ROUND R HOUSE NO TIME NEVER...BIOTCH!!!!!!!!!!!

GO STEELERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

FRITZ,

I am fine with that. But your folks should stop making patronizing the Chinese poor and helpless a sport or pastime. It is bad taste to exploit the unfortunate; in fact it is gross.

Bianxiangbianqiao,

I am not a Westerner living in China, in fact I’m Western but I’m not Caucasian. I believe that criticism is always warranted, since no one and nothing is perfect. Where criticism does occur, it should be constructive, and aimed at the content. I find your comments particularly odd, and at times filled with racist condescension, and conspiracy theories about Western reporting, two reactions that appear too often in Chinese BBS sites. I look at the content of your posts and find that almost no words are reserved for actually critiquing content, almost everything is focused on some nebulous group, those incompetent, conniving "Western journalists."

As you stated under Sloppy Journalism Come From Trashy Journalists:

"The sloppy work is the logical result of low-quality people. All human traits are normally distributed. By definition half of any population is below average in intelligence and any competence or skill. (Here are some words of wisdom: If the average fella is bad, the below average is even worse.) … I have always wondered what kind of Western journalists China gets to cover its people and events. How is the West prioritizing its allocation of precious journalistic talent over the world? Are we getting the wrong tail of the normal curve?"

Not only did you conflate the distribution of "all human traits" with the normalized distribution of IQ, you also state that half the population is below average, not just in IQ, but also in competence and skill. It is inaccurate to judge an individual’s IQ strictly in terms of points. The accurate thing to do is to describe intelligence in terms of ranges. Thus, I pointed out that a person could have an IQ below the (artificial) normalized curve, and still be of average intelligence. Your entire spiel was the result of ignorance regarding how to understand the significance of IQ measurements. You also then began to claim that you clearly didn’t label all Western journalists as possessing a low IQ. Yet you pointedly imply that those journalists who report on China do sloppy work. Sloppy work according to you, is a result of low IQ. It doesn’t take a lot of IQ to put 2+2 together and know what you think of personal “quality” of Western journalists.

In later posts you then try to state that, no, you weren’t actually talking about IQ, you were only remarking on their competence. Yet your post intrinsically linked IQ with competence, and you continued to defend your “statistical” interpretation of IQ.

What I called you out on are your shallow attacks against the reporter, Aiden Hartely. You simply used this post as an opportunity to launch blanket insults against Western journalists who report on China. Had you actually cared for “competence” you would have actually criticized the content of the report. You scarcely did so.

Among the "INSIGHTS" you’ve blessed us with (in this thread alone):

On Hartley's motives: "He wants bad things happen to China so badly that he could not tell his wishful thinking from reality. He was not alone in the West."

On the motives of Western Journalists: "They use the suffering and misery of the Chinese people as a tool of reaffirming the glory of their faith and way of life, their superiority over third-world low lives, their position as God's chosen people. They portray the Chinese as victims that cannot help themselves and waiting for Western redemption. It's all about them. They do not care a bit about the Chinese."

On the Ability to Understand China: "Sometimes I feel only the East Asians are capable of deep genuine connection with each other and care for each other at a purely individual level (personal experiences with people from all over the world in America supports this feeling)."

On Western Culture: "There is something about the Western Culture that is crass and crude to the core."

None of these are blanket comments about the West and Western journalism? Note, these comments have almost nothing to do with "competence." It is one thing to legitimately criticize the quality of an article, it’s another to spew hate-filled borderline racist rants. None of these assertions can be backed up by anything but conspiracy theories. You spend 90% of the time personally insulting Aiden Hartley, insulting Western journalists or Western culture, your critics, and almost nothing on the Hartely Report itself.

I get the sense that you simply using this topic as a sounding board for your anger at the West. If you want to avoid others criticizing you for your comments, next time try focusing on the actual content of the story. All I’ve done so far is to call you out on this pattern of shallow criticism, and namely your misuse of IQ and statistics in the name of attacking Western journalism.

Bxbq ACCURATELY reflects Chinese feelings, in response to the undeniable media demonization of China, that goes on in "the West". I thank him for taking the time to put our thoughts into words & thus provide some feedback to mindless China-bashers.

Chinese Buddhist,

Thanks for the heartwarming support. I cannot stand watching those charlatans trying to swindle the Chinese people in such a cheap way. At least they should have thrown in a tiny bit of intelligence and style. Are they proud of this kind of stuff or what? Just beyond me, inscrutable.

Everlasting,

You are goofy. Your strategy is elementary - you try to set the agenda and frame/twist the issue. You try to tell me what is relevant and allowable in the discussion; anything that does not fit your argument is declared irrelevant or heretic. Those elements you do allow in the discussion must be framed in your concepts and your worldview (which I find unimpressive). You know what? This kind of rhetoric hegemony is fun, but is achievable only by an entity backed up with instrumental hegemony (well-established dominance). The United States can achieve this rhetoric hegemony over the miserable Iraqis in their hands (screwing them hard and at the same time blaming them for "not putting their acts together" and threatening them with "American patience not gonna last forever"). Moses can achieve this rhetoric hegemony over his followers on the mountain top. You a nobody from nowhere are in no position to try this trick. The fact that you are making a straight-faced attempt at it makes you laughable. You got to be "on some serious drugs," to quote an angry dude from a while ago.

As for the rant on IQ and normal distribution, if you lack the fortitude and confidence to face a piece of mathematic truth, that's your problem and I am going to leave it at that.

bxbq, you are most welcome to my support!

Bianxiangbianqiao,

Your ignorance regarding IQ was made evident the moment you insisted that the issue was purely a statistical matter (not to mention when you linked IQ points with competence).

Your last post was yet another example of a long line of posts which rant on about the great Western conspiracy to put China down. Thank you for showing the readers your actual feelings.

By the way, repeatedly stating that those with differing viewpoints are drug users and insisting that you will "give [others] a lesson" on subjects such as statistics really is very puerile.

Much Everlasting love...

Everlasting,
The drug thing was first brought up by some other dude. I picked it up as a healthy dose of humor. Your constantly putting words in my mouth makes me wonder about your intentions.

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