Sunday, June 12, 2011

Fun with the media

If today's AFP story is any guide, AFP is going to be an endless font of media fun during this election season. The story consists of 12 basically one or two sentence paragraphs. In a story about Ma, a third of it is devoted to explaining that former President Chen Shui-bian is corrupt, while claiming (absurdly) that Ma came to power on an anti-corruption platform. Nowhere does AFP give any nuance to the Chen story (found innocent of embezzlement, for example). Nowhere does AFP mention the massive and pervasive corruption within Ma's own party, particularly ironic given the news this week that the French firm Thales has to pay back millions to Taiwan that were part of the alleged kickback scheme dating from the Lafayette sale during the KMT days.

Indeed, nowhere, in a story on Ma's re-election campaign, does AFP mention the apparently tight race between the two parties' respective candidates, or any other fact about the current election cycle, even one as basic as who Ma is running against (instead, it discusses a former president who is a non-candidate) -- or the DPP's Tsai being in Europe learning about renewables, or a possible spoiler role for James Soong (backstory -- Soong has threatened that he might enter the race, I've heard on the quiet). Lots of fun stuff happening, none of it will show up in the AFP story.

Actually, it is not going to be fun to read AFP this election year. It is going to be sad, at all the potential for communication and understanding lost because AFP's political reporting is so often cartoonish.
Daily Links
  • Gerrit van der Wees reviews Milo Thornberry's book about his involvement with the pro-democracy movement in the 1960s. My right sidebar has a link so you can purchase this great book.
  • WaPo with a travel piece on Fo Guang Shan and its pro-China, pro-KMT, anti-Taiwan leader, Hsing Yun. No mention of the latter, of course, all is sweetness and light for a "humanistic" Buddhist leader who was a member of the leadership of a brutal authoritarian political party that murdered thousands of people in Taiwan. It's a travel piece, can't expect too much. In researching this I noticed Hsing Yun's Wiki page has been scrubbed. It mentions his political involvement but no longer notes that he is a former KMT central standing committee member; as I recall it used to. I collected some stuff on Hsing Yun back in 2009, including his call for obliterating the local Taiwanese identity.
  • Ma's plan to set up Taiwan culture center in Canada may prove awkward for Canadian gov't.
  • BBC with a story on the grouper trade with China
Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums! Delenda est, baby.


Thoth Harris said...

Why did you link to the Calgary Sun reprint, as opposed to the Vancouver Sun original of Barbara Yaffe's article??? The one you probably read was the Vancouver Sun one that I linked to on my FB page.
Here is the location of the original article:

Michael Turton said...

Heh. It was the first one on my list.

Okami said...

Come on it's AFP, the guys who used doctored photos in the past and is ran by a bunch of leftists. I'd be more surprised if they got it right. When I grab a newspaper and see an article from the AFP, I skip it.

STOP Ma said...

RE: Taiwanese Cultural Centre

Taiwanese citizens now have to apply to Hong Kong for work / education visas to Canada.

Something tells me that the Canadian government is moving in the wrong direction.

richard said...

hey, it is quite clear, once you have the chinese investment coming in,
+ the confucius institutes,
you realize what the slogan of non-interference policy really means is either us or them, even it is not us, it better is not them.

btw i think since china considers taiwan to be part of it, it actually already has a very democratic province within it, just temporary not united (mainland, HK/M, and almost Taiwan), it might be good for their PR to promote it ...

James said...

'When I grab a newspaper and see an article from the AFP, I skip it'

Depends what you're reading. I worked at a paper here as the de facto sport ed. for a couple of years and AFP stories were routinely much more informative and fun colour pieces than the woefully insipid AP for whom a dropped intro seems never to have been invented.

I often wonder what the average reader is after. I know what I want: a good read. As most of us are not

That said, AFP was notoriously sloppy with facts, grammar and spelling, so their pieces required a good deal of cleaning up.

Still, if we're on about accuracy, every single AP piece on Taiwan cvomes with a 'Taiwan, which split from the mainland after the civil war' ... If it doesn't, it's because it was, rightly, been removed by the subs.

Michael Turton said...

AP isn't blindly biased in its political reporting the way certain AFP reporters seem to be. The pro-Beijing construction of split in '49 aside, AP tends to have better depth and balance.


James said...

Michael, having dealt with thousands upon thousands of wires from the big three here while I worked at the pape, I cannot agree. It very much depends on the kind of piece.

For sport and certain kinds of features, I foudn AP to be at the very bottom of the pack in terms of depth, with Reuters and AFP always better. Straight news though - fair enough.

The point is - and this picks up the sentence I left dangling in my previous comment - most readers are not going to TT et al for their international news.

By the time it's in print here, we usually know all about it and are already looking for engaging follow-up analysis, which is where I have found AP to be lacking.