Saturday, March 27, 2010

Liberty Times Ugly New Pattern?

Lotsa fun the last few days. First the Liberty Times published a translation of a report by CLSA, a financial firm, which it said declared that Ma would lose in 2012 (maddog flipped me this link to the original, thanks man!). That report was picked up by the Green papers, like this Taiwan News piece:
President Ma Ying-jeou will lose the 2012 presidential elections because he has completely lost public confidence, newspapers quoted analysts at financial group CLSA as saying yesterday.

The Hong Kong-based CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets brokerage and investment company is an independent subgroup of French bank Credit Agricole.

The Ma administration's handling of a wide range of issues, from last August's Typhoon Morakot disaster to the opening to imports of bone-in beef from the United States, has met with strong public dissatisfaction, senior analyst Bruce Warden said in a report titled "The KMT as its own worst enemy."

But then the CLSA issued a denial, saying it thought Ma would win (China Times via Taiwan Today). Read closely:

The issue came to a head after “The Liberty Times” ran a story March 24 in which “the 2012 Presidential election is the KMT’s to lose” was translated as “the KMT will lose the 2012 election.” The English-language CLSA report was cited by the newspaper as its source.

“The Ma administration’s [mainland] China policy has broad enough public support that it should be able to carry the 2012 election on its own merits,” the CLSA report read. “It would likely require some self-inflicted wound for the KMT to lose in 2012 and events of recent months highlight the ease with which this can happen.”

CLSA said the newspaper quoted its report without permission and in a manner differing substantially from the content. The company is exploring its legal options in response to the unauthorized distribution of its research reports and materials, which are compiled and distributed strictly for the benefit of its clients.

Now read these paragraphs from the Taipei Times carefully:
On Wednesday, the Liberty Times ran a front-page story titled “Ma would lose in 2012: CLSA” and cited the report as saying that while Ma’s China policy is the right direction, the Ma administration could lose the next presidential election because of “self-inflicted wounds.”

Another Chinese-language newspaper, the United Daily News, on Thursday published a similar story with a headline that read “CLSA’s bold prediction: Ma to lose in 2012 re-election.”
Hang on...doesn't it sound like the UDN's report is an independent one, separate from the Liberty Times' report? But maybe it is not, as the China Times piece above avers:
“The Liberty Times” article was quoted by several media outlets in Taiwan, including “United Daily News.”
UDN then corrected its own headline and slammed LT. The truth is like a character in Lost, constantly searching for a way back to our reality, and not finding it.

The CNA reported today that the Liberty Times wouldn't admit it had mistranslated. Some more material of the CLSA is there:
The CLSA report said: "We maintain the view we proposed last June, that the 2012 presidential election is the KMT's to lose. The Ma administration's China policy has broad enough public support that it should be able carry the 2012 election on its own merits." It went on to say: "However, we also believe that 'it would likely require some self-inflicted wound for the KMT to lose in 2012' and events of recent months highlight the ease with which this can happen." The headline of the Liberty Times' Wednesday front page read: "Ma will lose 2012 election: CLSA." By Wednesday night the story was reported and commented on by other local newspapers, Internet forums and television political talk shows, with opposition Democratic Party (DPP) citing the "prediction" while criticizing the Ma administration.

KMT legislator Wu Yu-sheng told a press conference Thursday that the newspaper had mistranslated the analysis.

CLSA also issued a statement in Chinese and English Thursday correcting the Liberty Times story and said the newspaper "obtained and used this report without permission." "The view we proposed in our June 2009 report 'KMT in the driver's seat' is that the 2012 presidential election is the KMT's to lose. This means the report does not predict President Ma Ying-jeou will lose the election," the statement said.

The Chinese-language United Daily News daily ran a front-page story Friday headlined "CLSA misquoted by Liberty Times" although it had also carried a story on the CLSA analysis Thursday that was titled "CLSA's bold prediction: Ma to lose 2012 re-election." The Liberty Times published a story Friday in which it invited a university professor to review its translation and the CLSA analysis word by word, but did not admit it had made a translation error in its original report Wednesday.
The thing that struck me, after I erroneously through the Liberty Times had done its job and reported what it said on my blog, was that this IS NOT the first time a misreading of foreigner meanings has occurred at that paper in the context of Ma's re-election. I can show another instance, which no one really noticed. I blogged on it a week ago. Shortly after I ripped Shelly Rigger's piece on Ma's unpopularity, the Liberty Times wrote this train wreck which I duly panned. LT said:
Shelley Rigger, associate professor of political science at Davidson College in North Carolina, recently said Ma’s prospects for re-election look bleak because of his abysmal approval rating and public dissatisfaction with the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT).
But that is not all what she said in that piece; in fact she said at a meeting later that same week that Ma's chances of losing in 2012 are remote. Rigger was trying (and failing completely) to understand why Ma, for whom half of DC appears to be nursing a man-crush, is so unpopular in Taiwan. Ma's 2012 chances are nowhere estimated in the piece.

I hope this is merely a blip and doesn't turn out to be a pattern. We don't need the major local Green paper developing a pattern of misreporting on such crucial topics as what foreigners think.
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9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Business is Business.
Politics is Politics.

The Business is CLSA's to lose.
The Politics is KMT's to lose.

Dixteel said...

Here is what I think happens:

Taiwanese often respect highly foreign experts. Therefore, often, newspaper etc pays close attention to what they said about Taiwan.

But similarly to foreigners don't understand Taiwan, Taiwan doesn't understand foreigners neither. Therefore, they don't know that some foreign experts actually have no significant insight on Taiwan. In fact, a lot of them are like Rigger, who had wrong assumptions and therefore had trouble interpreting current events.

These experts' puzzlement become local media's "misunderstanding." Because local media actually has a clearer picture, but at the same time they assume the experts' opinions are correct. It's like a blind person leading a group of people that can see. These create great contradiction, which makes local newspaper trying to overinterprete the report that is in another language. This leads to inaccurate translation and interpretation.

Also, often the Taiwanese newspaper paid little attention to the foreign experts' background etc. Maybe the so called experts have big business going on in China, and these newspaper still highlight what the person said as insightful for Taiwan without questions.

However, all these are just wrong. What the local media should do is just report whatever is said as is. Let the population of Taiwan be the judgge, and see how idiotic or insightful some of these so called experts really are. It's good for Taiwanese to understand that a lot of influential people outside of Taiwan don't have a damn clue about what is going on. And if necessary, write an editorial and ripp those fake experts apart. By doing so, they can help increase the understanding between Taiwan and the outside world.

Also for pan gree newspaper, they have to realize that not all, but a lot of these so called Taiwan experts are not really Taiwan experts and are pro-China and pro-KMT in their thinking. KMT didn't do those global propaganda in the past 40 years for nothing.

Anonymous said...

The Liberty Times is a clueless organization living off the ideological blindness of United Daily News and China Times. People that can't stomach Apple Daily and can't stand the Blue shills default to Liberty Times.

Look how helpless the Taipei Times is. It's a complete backwater with a website that takes 30 seconds to load sometimes. This is 2010. They have no community features even though Taiwan expats are very loyal readers and have very specific needs they pay a lot for.

The only semi-technologically advanced organization is UDN, but since they bleed so much money, even that is limited.

Apple Daily is semi-interesting now because with their animations with English voice overs, they actually have an international export! (Yes really, it really looks like it has potential, esp with US cable news or the Youtube crowd).

Anonymous said...

I don't know if you can say it's an ugly new pattern - pretty much all of the media here reports what it wants, regardless of the accuracy. Just in the English-language sphere, the TT and TN are both riddled with errors, and the less said about CP the better.

J. Michael said...

Anon:

"Look how helpless the Taipei Times is. It's a complete backwater with a website that takes 30 seconds to load sometimes. This is 2010."

You didn't hear it from me, but that's about to change. At long last.

Marc said...

Sorry, I just can't get worked up about what the Liberty Times gets right, or what the China Post doesn't. What the media produces in Taiwan, as in most of the world, is an entertainment product sold to the gullible masses.

What's interesting to consider is how information ("news" and commentary) is shaped and transformed, rather than how accurate or truthful it is, and what effect this has on the masses.

Thoth Harris said...

@J._Michael That's great to hear. Someone must be listening to people like me, who launch annoyed missives about TT on Twitter. I always put a discussion board topic on their Facebook fan page.

Thoth Harris said...

Doh! Sorry, I meant also, not always.

Brian Schack said...

Anonymous: "Look how helpless the Taipei Times is. It's a complete backwater with a website that takes 30 seconds to load sometimes. This is 2010. They have no community features even though Taiwan expats are very loyal readers and have very specific needs they pay a lot for."

Anonymous, you seem to be confusing form and content. The Taipei Times website may be annoying, but - and here's the important part - it actually contains something. This immediately distinguishes it from all the other rags on the island, such as Apple Daily, which you seem to semi-admire.

I read the Taipei Times daily while in Taiwan, and was always impressed by the quality of its articles. Now back in Canada, I only continue to marvel how a newspaper in such a small market could be so good. The newspapers here in Canada could learn a lesson or two from the Taipei Times.