Maurizio – Omnologos

Where no subject is left unturned

Evidence of Anti-China Reporting Bias in the IHT/NYT

with 4 comments

In “Chinese students shed restraint in America” (IHT, Apr 30, published as “Chinese students in U.S. fight image of their home” on the NYT on Apr 29) Chou Wu, a Chinese doctorate student in the USA, is quoted by Shaila Dewan (in co-operation with Michael Anti) as saying that “Western media is even more biased than Chinese media“.

Ironically, in order to find evidence for his claim, Mr Wu should look no further than Ms Dewan’s article!

In fact, after reporting that Chinese students in America believe to be “still neglected or misunderstood (by Western news media) as either brainwashed or manipulated by the (Chinese) government“, Ms Dewan dutifully proceeds to portray those same students as…brainwashed and/or manipulated.

They are described as authoritarian, zealot nationalist prone to threats against Tibetans, also because “demonstrators couldintend to return home (too)”.

Ms Dewan even leaves the last word to Lionel Jensen, of the University of Notre Dame, IN, stating that Chinese students “dont’ ask” if Tibetans wanted the “aggressive modernization” brought by China to Tibet.

That doesn’t bode well for the impartiality of the article: a feeling that is confirmed when we are told that Chinese students’ “handouts on Tibet and Chinacontained a jumble of abbreviated history, slogans and maps with little context“.

Is “jumble” the appropriate word for a reporting piece? Methinks there is too much contempt for the report’s subject showing there.

We have to take Ms Dewan’s word for her judgements, as the only detail provided concerns “a chart showing infant mortality in Tibet had plummeted since 1951” (a positive thing if there ever was any). Alas, we are told, the students “did not provide any means for comparison with mortality rates in China or other countries“.

Too bad one is left none the wiser, as Ms Dewan herself provides no such a comparison either.

Once upon a time newspapers clearly separated news from news analysis. And journalists tried to report impartially. I know, that may be the stuff of Utopia nowadays, but is nobody trying anymore?

Written by omnologos

2008/Apr/30 at 19:41:44

4 Responses

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  1. I am really glad that people are actually noticing the obvious to most Chinese. Thanks for pointing it out.


    2008/May/01 at 03:05:15

  2. Leave aside talk of media bias against China, when there is no media freedom of expression in China especially for issues such as Tibet, Taiwan and Tianamen Square. Even in Hong Kong, where it is supposedly freer, the three Ts are sensitive and can land you in jail. Just today, a Tibetan activist has been deported from Hong Kong.

    Why shout about bias when China closed Tibet for media. I can tell that you donot know much about the Tibetan issue from the Tibetan lived experience. Part of my family is in near Mt. Everest in Tibet and now that China is running the torch to the top (ofcourse for political reason to legitamize their claim on Tibet, despite calling for politics to be taken out of the games), the phone lines are picked by Chinese! You will not appreciate the freedom you enjoy now when you don’t know what it is like to be in repressed country like China. I was talking to a Tibetan professional working outside Tibet, and on phone, he sounds so uncomfortable and I cannot even say simple things that you take for granted here.

    Did Chinese media ever report shooting Tibetans at all. No way, find me a Chinese media that shows that. Hundreds are killed and they only claim only few killed because of Tibetan riot attack on Chinese.

    Well just wanted to express my voice and voice for the voiceless in Tibet.

    Sometimes things are what they are and you cannot be not biased about it. Reporters are only human and even though you think that you usually get objective reporting, thats not true, how can you get an objective reporting unless its like the weather such as its sunny or rainy. Reporters are not machines and they have brain, hearts and they make a fair bit of judgement based on what they see despite trying to report an event as a weather report.



    2008/May/01 at 05:29:01

  3. Dawa, essentially what you have said precisely proved the Chinese students’ points. 1, because Chinese media isn’t free, the western media should be biased against China. Exactly why the Chinese students claimed that the western media was not any better than the Chinese counterparts. 2. Because the reporters of NYT and the kind had made “a fair bit of judgement” as you put it, they had a pre-formed position on this issue, and through their reports, they attempted to spread their view and imposed it onto the readers who did not witness the event. As a result, they were deprived of the right to make their own judgement.

    Despite your view on the Tibetan issues, you didn’t counter any points stated in this post. (Only, you asked “why” one should raise those issues, which I believe is left to the readers to think for themselves.)


    2008/May/01 at 07:24:52

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