Sunday, February 04, 2007

Dan Bloom Smokes CNN

My friend Danny Bloom waxed CNN for its blunders in a letter to the Taipei Times, showing once again how Beijing-think dominates media discourse about Taiwan:
First, she (or to be fair, her editors in the CNN control booth) printed Chen's name in English incorrectly -- it's "Chen Shui-bian," not "Chen Shiu Bian" -- and then she referred to China as "the mainland" in one of her questions.

In another question, Rao referred to Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) as Chen's "deputy" when Lu's title is not "deputy president" but "vice president."

These might seem like small quibbles, and are perhaps not big gaffes.

But would Rao refer to US Vice President Dick Cheney as President George W. Bush's "deputy"?

`There is no need for CNN to refer to China as "the mainland." It is nobody's mainland, except for the residents of China's islands.'

And there is no country called "The Mainland." China is officially called the People's Republic of China and informally referred to as China.

Lastly, CNN would never write the name of China's president, Hu Jintao (胡錦濤), as "Hu Jin Tao."

If CNN had done its homework, these gaffes would not have occurred.

But they did occur, and did so on a TV show broadcast around the world.

Rao, who is a seasoned journalist and who asked insightful questions during her interview with Chen, simply was not truly prepared for her meeting with Chen and it seems that her editors did not prepare her in advance, either.

According to a CNN transcript of the program posted on the Internet, this is how Rao began her program with Chen as guest: "Hello I'm Anjali Rao in Taipei. My guest this week is Taiwan's President Chen Shui Bian. This is Talk Asia! Chen Shui Bian is a man in a tough spot. While determined to secure Taiwan's independence from mainland China, he knows what it could mean for the island he's led for seven years."

Later in the interview, Rao says to Chen: "President, recent reports from the Pentagon say China has 900 missiles pointed at this island; do you think that China will attack Taiwan?"

Would Rao refer on air to Japan or Britain or Australia as an "island"?

Good catches, and great work, Dan.

5 comments:

Keng said...

Michael, that shot of Hukou is right before the train station isn't it? :) God I miss Hukou...


Keng

Dan said...

You know, CNN has changed the transcript of the CHEN interview to print his name correctly now, as Chen Shui-bian. They did this after I wrote an email to Anjali Rao personally and politely told her of the printing gaffe. She graciously corected it on the transcript, it's there now, and she also made shure Ma Ying-jeou's name was printed correctly on screen for the interview with him. It was. the week before, when CNN was promoting the Ma interview, they printed his name MA YING JEOU, three words, but after my email, they corrected it. So CNN does listen to viewers. that's good to hear. to write to any reporter at CNN, just write the name like this

firstname.lastname@turner.com

the reporter's name with a period between first and last name as above. it will arrive and they often write back.

this formula can be used to contact any reporter or news reader at CNN.

Mutantfrog said...

I appreciate Dan Bloom's sentiment, and CNN may very well have an anti-Taiwan bias (I haven't ever seen their coverage so I have no comment) but his point about the spelling of Chen Shui Bian's name doesn't impress me much when I see an article in yesterday's Taipei Times that spells Taiwan as "Tai-wan."

http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/taiwan/archives/2007/02/04/2003347616

Michael Turton said...

I don't think the issue is an anti-Taiwan bias -- I doubt CNN has an overt bias the way the BBC does -- but rather, the way in which the international media uncritically adopts the discourses of Beijing when it discusses the Taiwan issue.

And Roy, the formatting for the paper and the website are different, so it is common for words to be hyphenated in the web text even when they aren't on a line break, because they were formatted for the print version. The paper doesn't put much into the website, and they don't clean up the text to format it for the web.

Michael

Michael Turton said...

Keng, yes, I have several shots around that station area that I've put up at other times. I really love Hukou, it has a nice old-Taiwan feel, all crowded with cramped storefronts and small shops.

Michael