Posted by Jeremy Goldkorn on Tuesday, September 26, 2006 at 10:52 AM
The Foxconn - China Business News affair is over, but interesting information about it continues to be revealed.
To summarize the story: In June this year, China Business News (第一财经日报) published a story alledging sweat shop conditions at a factory managed by Taiwanese giant Foxconn. The factory assembles iPods for Apple.
Soon after that, Foxconn sued the responsible journalist and her editor. Foxconn used the Shenzhen Intermediate Court to freeze the personal assets of the journalists.
Journalists and bloggers mounted a loosely organized Internet campaign against Foxconn. Sina, which has become China's most influential portal and news site, opened blogs for the editor and journalist.
But then it turned out that the research for the story was done in a very unprofessional way: the journalist basically combined comments from online forums like Xici with interviews with Foxconn employees done by QQ (instant messaging software).
In the end, both Foxconn and China Business News realized that further publicity would only hurt both of them. They settled and agreed to forgive each other.
Now ESWN has translated an article by Southern Weekend reporter Fu Jianfeng that he posted on his blog (link). It contains some juicy little anecdotes about the state of the news media and of the legal system in China today. For example, in the wake of the Foxconn case, a businessman in Shenzhen tried to sue two reporters from the Hong Kong Commercial Press. The man tried to use exactly the same methods as Foxconn.
Fu Jianfeng met the young judge who was responsible for this new case:
On Monday, I went to see Judge Yin in person. She is a pretty young woman, with curly hair and big eyes. At first, she said that the court will not let this matter be discussed. But I saw that she was a recent university graduate and she was inexperienced and unwary. So I began chatting with her and she eventually told me about the hilarious conversation the other day. Even she had to giggle non-stop.
The article goes on to examine the extremely amateurish fact gathering techniques behind the original Foxconn report, and looks at what this case means for the Chinese media:
Why were the Chinese media not sober? I think that there are several factors:
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