Response To How Egregious & Dangerous Western Media Bias Is

Chinese protesting western media bias.

When I agreed to chime in on DeWang of Hidden Harmonies’ discussion about “breaking the mold on Western media bias”, I consciously wanted to avoid getting into any larger discussion of Western media bias, its existence, or how dangerous it is. I tried to be succinct in laying out that it exists and can be dangerous, before going on to give my opinion that DeWang was overzealous in the particular incident he shared. We all have our moments, and I’ve been criticized for such myself.

DeWang posted a response to my opinion. Since it goes straight for a larger discussion of Western media bias, I figure I might as well share some of my reactions, responses, and thoughts in another post, should they be of any interest to general readers. I’ve reposted most of DeWang’s response below with my comments mixed in:

I think there is a big gap in my post I failed to address for people who do not accept that the Western media is so biased in a way that is dangerous for our world.  Everything in my post hinges on that premise – that there is agreement the bias is egregious and dangerous.

Again, I agree that there is such a thing as Western media bias, especially when it comes to certain contentious topics and issues (though not all). I agree it can be egregious and it can be dangerous. Where I think DeWang and I may differ is in how quick we look at Western media through those particular lenses. Its like single-issue politics.

Bias does not define the Western media, but it certainly afflicts it like it afflicts any media anywhere. Why? Because it is an extension of the humans behind, within, and before it. It is dangerous because it is influence. Anything of influence can be dangerous. Influence is control and control is power.

Regarding “systematic conspiracy” – I am not arguing one way or another, and to me it’s irrelevant.  For example, racists don’t need to conspire to be racists.  The extent of their “conspiracy” is that their public display emboldens one another.  Likewise, media bias in one outlet reinforces the same behavior in another.

Overall, I feel DeWang is begging for the Western media, individually or as a whole, to exercise more restraint against what he sees as them indulging in their own biases. That’s a wholly understandable sentiment, but its problematic because it is essentially impossible to define and establish some standard of objectivity or fairness for everyone to adhere to. Your “fair” can easily be someone else’s “bias”.

Chinese protesting media distortion, demanding truth and respect.

The idea behind a free and private press/media is the marketplace of ideas, the competition of ideas. “Fairness”, to the extent humans can approximate it, lies not in having others say what you want them to say but in being free to say something different — in disagreement or dissent — from them. You dictating what is “fair” reporting to the media is hardly different from someone else dictating a different kind of “fair”. In this world, “fair” is only as “fair” as those who behold it and agree to it being “fair”.

As such, the media outlets we may consider “biased” may not be so to others and — more importantly — may not be so to themselves. Yes, media bias in one outlet can reinforce the same behavior in another, just as one person can influence another, but it isn’t necessarily that both sides know its “wrong” and indulge in it using each other as an excuse. It could very well be what they genuinely believe to make the most sense. So if it doesn’t make sense to you or others, if it isn’t “fair” to you or others, then it falls to you guys to find a way to influence them away from it. When you do so, expect some people to call you “biased” and “unfair”. Welcome to the game.

I am seriously trying to find an “answer” that could prevent that lack of “competition” in the U.S. media which resulted in the last Iraq invasion – for example.

Eh, there was competition, but one side lost. The question is, how did the winners win? By co-opting the U.S. media? How did they do so? Why was the U.S. media so willing to be co-opted? Why were American voters so willing to be co-opted? The answer to why America invaded Iraq is not as simple as “oh, the U.S. media helped deceive everyone”. Part of the answer is that those in dissent, the losing side of the competition, failed. They failed, perhaps, not just at that critical moment, but in every moment leading up to it. That is the failure of every “losing” side in history everywhere. It is universal.

The U.S. media is not some amorphous entity separate from American voters that necessarily “knows better” and thus somehow failed in its paternalistic duty to propagate “truth” to its charges.  The U.S. media is fundamentally an apparatus of amplification. While it has influence, it is also susceptible to influence. Again, it is because it is an extension of humans, of fallible creatures. That has been the underlying reason for every failure of every organization and human-reliant system on Earth.

Westerners understand the value of “check and balances.”  Why not extend that to the world stage?

They do. It’s called geopolitics. Those who get checked and balanced against will always think it is unfair.

In my post, I talked about asking Professor Noam Chomsky how do we move towards a world that is less “power” based, and his response was that it depends on the “actions the public willing to take.”

The actions the public is willing to take depends on the appeal of the choices they are aware of.

Yes, the U.S. wants Iraq oil, but should it be allowed via an invasion?  That’s what I mean.  Of course, if you don’t accept the premise that the U.S. media biased the U.S. population into this WMD threat and this bringing of “freedom” to the Iraqis, then my argument to people with the position you have taken is really moot.  We need to step back and debate about how egregious and how dangerous it is with the bias.

Chinese protesting BBC news reporting.

Well, let’s see, those who invaded Iraq for oil probably don’t care whether they should or shouldn’t, just whether they could or couldn’t. What I don’t accept is the premise that the U.S. media, and the people in it, uniformly intended to deceive everyone it could influence and then set out to systematically do so. I accept that there is bias, and influential bias can become dangerous. However, I don’t think “bias” itself can be eliminated, a solution I feel DeWang is searching for. Instead, I think we can only combat the instances of bias we identify and persuasively arguing our cases. Most people can agree on bias itself being potentially dangerous and, yes, even egregious, but identification and shaming by itself isn’t very practical. We need to compete with the ideas we prefer to be out there, those ideas we consider to be less “biased” or more “fair”.

Chomsky’s response to me was that the main “check” for the U.S. power is the American public.

So what’s the main check for the American public?

“just as there are anti-U.S. narratives in China” – we would have to look at how “unfair” it is on both sides to know truly how dangerous it is with one side vs the other.

I’m afraid someone would say DeWang’s opinion of how “truly” dangerous anti-U.S. narratives in China are versus anti-China narratives in the United States will be “biased”. What then?

Regardless, my point is that biased narratives exist everywhere and recognizing that should help us better understand how they come to be and why they persist. I genuinely feel that going down this avenue of thought will get us closer to combating biased narratives, to achieve an approximation of “fairness” closer to our own subjective desires, than trying to argue who is more biased and whose bias is more dangerous. I mean, seriously, what can we do by arguing the latter?

“American media bias is more dangerous because it is tied to the world’s most powerful military!”

“Well, Chinese media bias is more dangerous because it is tied to the world’s largest population of disaffected young men!”

I’m being facetious, but it really isn’t hard to find all sorts of seemingly reasonable and persuasive “reasons” to argue how one must be more dangerous than the other. The “with great power comes great responsibility” Uncle Ben talk only works when they know they are doing something wrong, willfully indulging in irrational, unreasonable, or unethical biases or deceptions. There needs to be guilt before there can be restraint.

If there isn’t guilt, then what?

That’s a good question, isn’t it? I already gave my answer earlier.

Anyways, forgive me, I didn’t want to go down this path of discussion – to proof media bias.  I am not on a crusade looking for more converts – Noam Chomsky has a sufficient following.  If you read the Chinese blogs within China, you will know they simply take Western media bias as a fact.  Chomsky was invited to talk to the General Assembly recently.  So I suspect that view is global.

I’m not surprised many Chinese blogs within China take Western media bias as a fact. Many Western blogs with the West take Chinese media bias as a fact too. They’re even! Better yet, there are Chinese blogs within China that take Chinese media bias as a fact and Western blogs that take Western media bias as a fact too!

Chinese protesting BBC reporting.

There’s less of a need to prove media bias than there is a need to show media bias wherever and whenever it appears. Do the latter well and the former will follow. There are people who do, like Glenn Greenwald (for — mostly American — politics) or The Last Psychiatrist (for potpourri mindfucks). What we’re after is growing individual skepticism towards the influences of mass media and fostering individual research and critical thinking. When we give evidence for “Western media bias”, the emphasis should be on “media bias” rather than “Western”. Be careful of arguing for “Western” as the cause instead of just some identifier. That’s playing to identity politics, a bias in of itself.

The U.S. is a hegemon and the political culture that has formed in the international arena is dominated by “power” – that’s well documented, and that view has been successfully advanced by people like Tsinghua Professor Yan Xuetong.  The “check and balance” is crucial for world peace, and the “actions the public willing to take” and the media “fairness” seems to be the only solution.  How we get there is really my question.

I don’t think we can ever get away from “power” but we can aspire to power being checked and balanced by power. This arguably cynical view is premised upon my understanding of human fallibility. I don’t think there can be an objective “fairness”, only the “fairness” that the majority can exact from the whole. We will thus get what effort we put in, what “power” we can command. It comes full circle in a way, doesn’t it?




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  1. -+-2

    Hi Kai,

    I tried to be succinct in laying out that it exists and can be dangerous, before going on to give my opinion that DeWang was overzealous in the particular incident he shared.

    Or you are overzealous in labeling others overzealous despite your later argument that we all indeed think “fairness” differently on any particular issue? It comes down to a priority question, isn’t it? On whose perspective is more “pressing.”

    Its like single-issue politics.

    Again, can we stay away from that? I thought middlenuts is about seriously considering other point of views. Is this overzealousness in judging others?

    Bias does not define the Western media, but it certainly afflicts it like it afflicts any media anywhere. Why? Because it is an extension of the humans behind, within, and before it. It is dangerous because it is influence. Anything of influence can be dangerous. Influence is control and control is power.

    Yes, bias can afflict any media anywhere. There is a really big caveat, however, as the U.S. is the hyper power that can act “unilaterally when it must.” (Or fast-forward 500 years, it could be another country, and this is a generic problem.)

    That’s a wholly understandable sentiment, but its problematic because it is essentially impossible to define and establish some standard of objectivity or fairness for everyone to adhere to. Your “fair” can easily be someone else’s “bias”.

    Exactly. Sow and I already established a similar view – “fairness” is a goal. So the question is, Kai, how do we get closest to it?

    For example, Newsy’s “multi-sourcing” approach addresses this issue in a positive way. Can it be improved upon?

    The idea behind a free and private press/media is the marketplace of ideas, the competition of ideas. “Fairness”, to the extent humans can approximate it, lies not in having others say what you want them to say but in being free to say something different — in disagreement or dissent — from them.

    I also agree with the appeal of a market place of ideas. There is a market place for goods and services, but you do agree with the need to regulating corporate competition, right? Isn’t it worthwhile to delineate “news” from “talk shows” in some way via some sort of regulation?

    Eh, there was competition, but one side lost. The question is, how did the winners win? By co-opting the U.S. media? How did they do so? Why was the U.S. media so willing to be co-opted? Why were American voters so willing to be co-opted? The answer to why America invaded Iraq is not as simple as “oh, the U.S. media helped deceive everyone”. Part of the answer is that those in dissent, the losing side of the competition, failed. They failed, perhaps, not just at that critical moment, but in every moment leading up to it. That is the failure of every “losing” side in history everywhere. It is universal.

    Honestly, I am curious what your answers are to the questions you raised. “It is univerasl” – how can the cycle be broken?

    The U.S. media is not some amorphous entity separate from American voters that necessarily “knows better” and thus somehow failed in its paternalistic duty to propagate “truth” to its charges. The U.S. media is fundamentally an apparatus of amplification. While it has influence, it is also susceptible to influence. Again, it is because it is an extension of humans, of fallible creatures. That has been the underlying reason for every failure of every organization and human-reliant system on Earth.

    Agreed.

    Westerners understand the value of “check and balances.” Why not extend that to the world stage?

    They do. It’s called geopolitics. Those who get checked and balanced against will always think it is unfair.

    Did you twist my point? I was talking about checking the power of a bully. For example, the ICC’s 115 signatory states just few months ago met to adopt this idea of making “state aggression” a criminal act. Arguably, this is a coalition of the weak trying to “check” against super powerful unilateralism.

    Are you saying the American public is not capable of supporting this ideal of “check and balances” onto the world stage, despite the fact that it seems to be the DNA of this country?

    What I don’t accept is the premise that the U.S. media, and the people in it, uniformly intended to deceive everyone it could influence and then set out to systematically do so.

    That’s not my premise. Again, I am not arguing any sort of conspiracy. I don’t argue there is “intention to deceive” one way or the other. Racists are not going to say they intend to be racist. How about this? Humans are self-serving.

    We need to compete with the ideas we prefer to be out there, those ideas we consider to be less “biased” or more “fair”.

    Chomsky’s response to me was that the main “check” for the U.S. power is the American public.

    So what’s the main check for the American public?

    I agree a right step is to compete with more “fair” ideas. And you asked a core question I have been asking myself. What is the “main check” for any public? Environmentalists are probably asking this same question too.

    Seriously, what is the answer?

    Regardless, my point is that biased narratives exist everywhere and recognizing that should help us better understand how they come to be and why they persist. I genuinely feel that going down this avenue of thought will get us closer to combating biased narratives, to achieve an approximation of “fairness” closer to our own subjective desires, than trying to argue who is more biased and whose bias is more dangerous. I mean, seriously, what can we do by arguing the latter?

    “American media bias is more dangerous because it is tied to the world’s most powerful military!”

    “Well, Chinese media bias is more dangerous because it is tied to the world’s largest population of disaffected young men!”

    I’m being facetious, but it really isn’t hard to find all sorts of seemingly reasonable and persuasive “reasons” to argue how one must be more dangerous than the other. The “with great power comes great responsibility” Uncle Ben talk only works when they know they are doing something wrong, willfully indulging in irrational, unreasonable, or unethical biases or deceptions. There needs to be guilt before there can be restraint.

    That’s a really good point.

    Anyways, forgive me, I didn’t want to go down this path of discussion – to proof media bias. I am not on a crusade looking for more converts – Noam Chomsky has a sufficient following. If you read the Chinese blogs within China, you will know they simply take Western media bias as a fact. Chomsky was invited to talk to the General Assembly recently. So I suspect that view is global.

    I’m not surprised many Chinese blogs within China take Western media bias as a fact. Many Western blogs with the West take Chinese media bias as a fact too. They’re even! Better yet, there are Chinese blogs within China that take Chinese media bias as a fact and Western blogs that take Western media bias as a fact too!

    They are not even! You ignore the fact that the world (i.e. the U.N. General Assembly) invited Chomsky to testify his perspectives about the U.S. and the media. The world in general is far more concerned about U.S. media bias.

    I don’t think we can ever get away from “power” but we can aspire to power being checked and balanced by power. This arguably cynical view is premised upon my understanding of human fallibility. I don’t think there can be an objective “fairness”, only the “fairness” that the majority can exact from the whole. We will thus get what effort we put in, what “power” we can command. It comes full circle in a way, doesn’t it?

    Can you think of a situation when the American public will demand the U.S. become a signatory state to the ICC?

    • -+

      ICC? Methinks not DeWang – lest you in the mood to listen to a series of NWO rants from the American Free Press:

      http://www.americanfreepress.net/

      As for Noam Chomsky… {snort} … guess the U.N. has to fill in the dead air time with somebody that people will vaguely recognize.

    • -++2

      Hey DeWang,

      I’m not sure how I can defend my opinion that you appeared overzealous in advancing awareness of Western media bias and Newsy’s apparent complicity to Rosa Sow in your first reply to her initial email. I don’t understand your suggestion of that being single issue politics either.

      I do understand that you feel U.S. media bias deserves extra attention because the U.S. is the most powerful country on Earth. That’s similar to why China gets all the attention it gets. People think its a “bigger” country where the consequences are more significant. I am saying that you have to be careful of coming to view the U.S. media only in terms of a single issue. Rosa came to you sharing a video hoping to promote her website and its value proposition of combining multiple news sources. While you recognized that immediately, you also immediately went into accusing Newsy of “immoral and propagandistic” behavior…with an example that I felt was far from persuasive (again, IMHO).

      You ask how we can get closest to “fairness” in the media. I’ve told you: By challenging and competing with each other, by having a marketplace of ideas, a competition of ideas, with people of different views vying for influence with the persuasiveness of their arguments. As Rosa said below, exactly what we’re doing now.

      However, I feel that what you’re looking for is some sort of paternalistic approach, some law or regulatory body to somehow define, arbitrate, and enforce “fairness”. I’m personally not confident of such a thing.

      I agree that Newsy’s approach can be “positive” and you ask how it can be improved upon, but how soon before someone accuses it of cherry-picking sources and views to aggregate and present? That’s bias too. Can we improve their approach? Maybe, but maybe our suggestions for improvement will be biased? Can we guarantee that they will be “fair” in how they choose the sources they present? I don’t think so, but I do think if people and other media outlets are free to present other views that Newsy may pass on, we approach an approximation of “fairness” for the media environment overall.

      You appeal for regulation of the media industry and ask if we should delineate news from talk shows. I think this is easier said than done, not least of all because information goods are rather different from physical goods. But let me bring up a problem with delineating news from talk shows: We feel the difference between news and talk shows is that the former should be a reporting of facts while the latter may be a presentation of opinions, right? So the latter is by nature biased but the former shouldn’t be, right? However, when we can accuse media outlets as being biased based upon what news they do or don’t report, is “news” really that different from “talk shows”? Well, they’re still different, but I’m trying to show you how easy it is to accuse bias or “dangerous” behavior in the media that I don’t think can really be regulated away without further accusations of bias.

      You asked how the cycle can be broken. I’m telling you it can’t. You can only fight for your side to win, for the cycle to favor your views and interest, so that you live more happily.

      Regarding my response of “geopolitics”, I don’t think I was twisting your words, just responding as I understood them. I’m saying you can see whatever “checks and balances” that exist on the international stage in the “geopolitics” of the international stage. That geopolitics includes international organizations or international treaties with signatories. You want the United States to refrain from doing what it can get away with. I’m telling you its really hard for people to do that because people are always self-interested and if you want to check and balance those people or countries, you need to be able to bend them to your will. Your coalition of the weak needs to add up to enough geopolitical power to make a powerful country reconsider unilateral action. Until it does so, that country is liable to engage in unilateral action.

      That’s the fact of life. It’s the same within the United States as it is without but whereas the United States is the system in the former, it is only part of any possible system in the latter. As a country in the international arena, it is a part that needs to be checked and balanced against, not a part that somehow bears the responsibility to abstain from its own interests, checking and balancing against itself out of some altruistic consideration for others. Self-restraint is unreliable.

      You disagree with my facetious declaration that Chinese and Western blogs accepting media bias in each other makes them “even”, and then you cite Noam Chomsky being invited to the UN to prove that “the world” is more concerned about the bias in the U.S. media than in the Chinese media. First of all, I don’t think we’re going to get very far down this road of comparing how much “the world” cares about one or the other. Second, Noam Chomsky has little influence on most of the people who care and worry about media bias in general. Third, my point was that there is little import in the fact that Chinese blogs in China accept Western media bias as a fact. You’re still arguing for the existence of Western media bias and trying to show how others accept its existence when no one is questioning its existence, not Rosa Sow, not me. Those who deny its existence probably don’t give a shit that a bunch of Chinese blogs in China do.

      As for when the United States will become a signatory to the ICC? When they see it as being in their interests to become so? How about when those 115 countries boycott America? That might do it. Maybe.

      • -+-1

        Hi Kai, Rosa,

        Kai – I have thought about it some more – you are right – my initial email response to Rosa was indeed unfair. So I am sorry about that Rosa. Perhaps we can get more into the videos themselves another time.

        You ask how we can get closest to “fairness” in the media. I’ve told you: By challenging and competing with each other, by having a market place of ideas, a competition of ideas, with people of different views vying for influence with the persuasiveness of their arguments. As Rosa said below, exactly what we’re doing now.

        So, I understand those points you made above on various problems of getting closer to “fairness.” But at this point I am not willing to accept competition of ideas is the only answer. It’s part of a larger equation.

        Rosa said over at Newsy’s blog:

        To survive, news outlets have split their audiences, each attempting to carve out and speak to a niche group. Somewhere in the differences between these viewpoints lies a greater level of truth that only individuals can mete out for themselves. We expose these differences to allow users to come to their own conclusions.

        More competition may in fact split the audiences further and give the individual camps more muscle to be even more radical, dedicating to each camp’s views.

        I think we all agree – even “multi-sourcing” have issues of editorial bias on what topics to choose and whose perspectives to include.

        Separately (not a strictly media bias issue) – as I’ve said in my original post (actually, I got this from Allen), generally, people are too busy with their day to day lives, and understanding public policy and foreign policy (okay, understanding news) requires a lot of effort. Many people are not always interested in everything. So, this is partly why I like the Newsy approach – because different perspectives are packaged up in consumable bits. But it’s hard to tell how big the Newsy camp will become vs. other camps (i.e. Fox or CNN etc).

        However, I feel that what you’re looking for is some sort of paternalistic approach, some law or regulatory body to some how define, arbitrate, and enforce “fair ness”. I’m personally not confident of such a thing.

        I think so.

        Below is comment by Allen (who blogs with me over at Hidden Harmonies) in my original post on this topic: (Kai, logistically, we are fracturing the discussion a bit by having multiple posts.) Allen has not had the benefit of having read the discussion over at china divide yet.

        Here is my 2 cents: there really ought to be 2 sources of news – one that is “licensed and vetted” and one that is “by the people.”

        The licensed and vetted news are produced by people who have gone through proper training for doing investigative, in-depth reporting. If the press is so important to an informed, civil society, why should they be run by a bunch of semi-educated dropouts (let’s face it, would you consider a journalist on the average to be your intellectual equal?) or for-profit ideologues? If doctors, dentists, lawyers – heck even real estate agents – are regulated and licensed to ensure they meet minimum thresholds of training, why should not journalists? I believe that the press is important and hence believe a licensed, professionally-staffed media should provide the bulk of our news information. Some may think that a free market will eventually ensure the “check and balance” needed to ensure quality news. But as we can see this is wishful thinking. Just as the government often needs to play an active role in ensuring an economy stays “competitive” (a la antitrust), so too should the government play a role in ensuring the press is being fair and objective.

        But to ensure that the press does not become beholden to speical interests (whether they be government, political, commercial, or other interests), it is also very important to have a second source of news to help triangulate what is reported. This is where blogs and other sources of “news by the people” come in. In general, because sources such as blogs are not licensed or professionally run, they tend to in general produce lower quality work, but quality is not the point. The use of blogs is to check against the professionals – to keep the professionals honest – not to replace the professionals.

        The problem with Western press? There are no minimal standards of objectivity, insight, or fairness and the people do not seem to care, with each of these phenomena feeding on each other in an ever sprialling cycle downwards, resulting in a society that is advanced in many ways, but ignorant also in so many, so many ways.

        I agree the question of who is more biased is not part of this discussion for now and you’ve made a good point why that is not fruitful.

        What are your thoughts on Allen’s points?

        Rosa – I’ll bounce your public checking the public idea around.

        • -++2

          Hey DeWang,

          I’m not very bullish on the idea of two sources of news, “licensed and vetted” vs. “by the people”, and not only because we already approach a similar dichotomy between “mainstream/traditional media” and and alternative/new media” as it is. I think Rosa said as much and we have the internet to thank for this. Read this The Last Psychiatrist post.

          I really think Allen could poke a ton of holes in his own suggestion if he thought about it, and I’ve already offered some problems with it above. Cynically, his suggestion of licensing and vetting may lead to a greater semblance of fairness and objectivity without there actually being so. That’s good for deceiving less critical thinking people, but it’ll never deceive people like Allen…which brings us back to square one.

          • -++2

            Hi Kai,

            Well, I very much want to believe this recent up and coming Internet (blog, Newsy even, and etc) is giving the traditional media enough competition. That dichotomy seems more apparent now, but at the end of the day, the Internet is just a tool. Sure, barrier to entry is much lower so people like us can have a voice and compete.

            Blogging is more altruistic, whereas someone working in traditional media, it is more about putting food on the table. I think the latter is going to compete harder. Conflict, wars, polarization, sensationalization, and so forth all sell.

            That Last Psychiatrist post you linked to – to me, the traditional media are light years ahead of people like us in monetization. Rationality vs. sex – the winner is clear.

            Given all these issues, Kai, why wouldn’t you think regulation is needed? Let’s suppose this is a problem set at Berkeley. You need to go down that path. How would you regulate? I am curious what your best shot is.

            I’ll see if Allen can find time to chime in here.

          • -++2

            Hey DeWang,

            Uh, I think by most accounts, traditional media sees the internet as a major threat if not competitor. The plus side to lower barriers of entry is that there can be more potential voices propagated. The down side is that fringe voices benefit from the same technological amplification. You’ll get people like yourself challenging the narratives of the mainstream media, but you’ll also get people supporting them, or taking them further.

            It’s not that I don’t think more regulation is needed. It’s that I don’t think it’ll actually satisfy you. It won’t necessarily eliminate bias. It just adds another level of complexity. The ideas you’ve mentioned as regulatory standards are fine, but I just don’t think they’ll be as effective as you hope they would be. You’ll end up griping about the bias of the people meant to regulate the media to ensure fairness. As such, I think its less efficient to try to establish a regulatory system to regulate others and more efficient to just get better at telling your side of the story.

      • VOC

        -++2

        There are two quotes that I remember hearing quite frequently:

        1. The two things you cant avoid are death and taxes

        2. It seems everybody is politics and football

        No1 seems to apply to all of the commentators here.

        Kai, I’ve read many of your posts and they are just disgraceful works of English.

        The purpose of having a good command of English is:

        a.) To have the discretion to express a view, fact or opinion in a concise, accurate and easily comprehensible form using the least amount of words needed and avoiding jargon when it is unnecessary, repetitive or detracts from the essential message that is intended to be put forth to the reader.

        b.) To deliberately make it difficult for the reader to understand to cover up for the inadequacies of the message that is to be expressed or to distract the viewer from the main issue to be contested or to inflate the readers perception of the writer by using words that the reader may not understand.

        In simple words:

        1. Do you want to get a message across?
        2. Do you want to sound important or confuse the reader into accepting your view?

        In assessing all of your posts, I believe it is the latter. And, I don’t believe I am the only one who shares this view.

        My simple English interpretation of the issue:

        Western media bias exists and is exacerbated by the fact that the ownership of most media enterprises have seats, and control of the government arms through various affiliations and connections which obviously will never make it to mainstream media.

        Likewise, whenever I read your posts I laugh because I think of what my Economics lecturer at University would always do. That is bring in a newspaper article discussing economic issues using logic rather than economic reasoning from the writer. She used to always laugh at them and say ‘now, once you’ve completed this course, I don’t ever want you to buy into the crap in the newspaper, you are educated and should be able to make a clearer economic assessment. The same goes for how the news treats legal issues. And how you ‘Kai Pan’ treat all issues, covering up your inadequacies using strawmen, logical fallacies and unclear English.

    • Carl G

      -++1

      You have a glaring false premise that the media is ‘tied’ to a specific military.

  2. -++1

    Hm… a lot of talk about the U.S. media scene – but only photos of the CCP’s efforts to “scold” the BBC? C’mon Kai, your better than this – where are the efforts from the CCP about “scolding” CNN or Bill O’Reilly (Fox News)?

    • -+-2

      I ran a Google image search for western media bias and I felt these images “looked” better. Reading the text, it isn’t hard to tell that they’re being used as stock images to accompany the discussion of Western media bias in a Chinese context. Since that discussion was mostly surrounding America, should someone come in and say I should be better than this and have included more discussion surrounding the UK?

      Come now, Matt.

      Oh, and I can attest that plenty of non-CCP members were “scolding” the BBC. It might do well to respect the idea that normal average Chinese people may genuinely have been upset with the BBC and it wasn’t all some big show coordinated by the CCP. That’s the equivalent of dismissing any Chinese person who disagrees with you by accusing them of being brainwashed. Which is the equivalent of a Chinese person dismissing a foreign critic for not being able to understand because they’re not Chinese. See where that line of thinking takes us?

      • -+

        Ah yes, the “walk a mile in another’s shoes” line of thought – which is a topic unto itself. {smile} Truth is humans are a very opinionistic lot – and fiercely tribal when it comes to “the big picture” – so it is no surprise when it comes to the idea of the “global village” – there is always the nagging issue of cliques or coffee klatches going at it.

        • -+

          Er, I don’t think what I said was the “walk a mile in another’s shoes” line of thought. It’s more like the “you’re not going to get anywhere if you don’t give others the benefit of the doubt of being sincere” line of thought.

          • -+

            {sigh} Really need to develop a taste for coffee if I am going to be able to read and post at 5:30 AM – okay, I can somewhat you are talking about. As for the issue of sincerity – there is an old quote I tend to take to heart:

            Don’t explain. Your friends don’t need it and your enemies won’t believe it. – Jen Tishere

          • -+

            Heh, I’ve said as much before. The cynical view is that explaining is used to influence those who aren’t yet friends or enemies, to bring them towards your side.

          • -+

            If we are talking about influence – then I would say that the CCP is behind the curve in North America – given that CCTV is not a “freebie channel” on digitial or basic cable – as what I have seen with France24, NHK, Taiwan/FG. Heck, I do not see free or pay copies of the China Daily at any Chinese restaurant (or P.F. Chang’s or Panda Express/Inn).

            “Soft Power” is a hard thing to cultivate – yet way too easy to eliminate.

      • -+

        “Read­ing the text, it isn’t hard to tell that they’re being used as stock images to accom­pany the dis­cus­sion of West­ern media bias in a Chi­nese con­text.”

        They’re also something of a self-parody in a Chinese media context (daubed messages are pure CCP narrative). Urging the BBC to ‘respect truth’ and ‘not lie’ is richer than rich. These banner-wavers are either oblivious to the irony, or a typically compliant set of overseas Chinese students mobilised through consulates and Confucius Institutes on a wave of nationalistic fervour on the run up to the Olympics.

        Yeah, I know that’s a lot to deduce from a few googled pics – but I’m right anyway.

        Bottom line: the whole notion of a ‘western media bias’ (particularly against China) is way overblown. And we know who orchestrates the blowing.

        • -+-2

          The suggestion that the CCP orchestrates the blowing is itself way overblown. To their detriment, a lot of Westerners are too quick and too eager to think the CCP is behind all of the anger and resentment many Chinese have towards the West and Western media, as if there wasn’t the CCP, the Chinese would be all hugs and kisses towards everything Westerners have to say about them. There’s a certain arrogance in that way of thinking.

          Now, interestingly, Chinese people blaming Western media bias for anti-China sentiments amongst Westerners is not that different from Westerners blaming the CCP for anti-Western sentiments amongst Chinese people. Funny how that works out, eh?

          • -+

            “Chi­nese peo­ple blam­ing West­ern media bias for anti-China sen­ti­ments amongst West­ern­ers is not that dif­fer­ent from West­ern­ers blam­ing the CCP for anti-Western sen­ti­ments amongst Chi­nese peo­ple.”

            That presupposes that there really is a palpable bias on the part of western media, and not – as I would argue – an anti-western sentiment driven by the Chinese government’s portrayal of western media as biased, or Chinese oversensitivity to any report containing sentences that omit superlatives. These are two different containers of chocolate cookies altogether. Hmm, cookies…

          • -+

            Stuart, given what I’ve already written, you already know that I believe there is a palpable bias on the part of the western media when it comes to certain contentious issues. I also believe there is an oversensitivity amongst many Chinese as well. They’re not mutually exclusive and I don’t consider it wise to insist, as you do, that it must be one or the other.

          • -+

            “They’re not mutu­ally exclu­sive…”

            The two things which definitely lack the properties of mutual exclusivity are Chinese oversensitivity and the fostering of historical grievances/resentments through the Chinese government’s education program.

            I think you underestimate the cumulative effect on the vast majority of mainland Chinese of years of being taught how bad foreigners are, and the constant exposure to the myth of ‘foreigners don’t understand China’.

          • -+

            Stuart, we’ve had this conversation before. My impression is that you don’t accept that anyone who appreciates the effects of anti-foreign political education in China would bother to consider anti-Chinese biases in Western society, much less talk about it. If someone speaks of the latter, you’re wont to accuse them of underestimating the former.

            I don’t agree. I don’t see things that way, as if people can’t hold two thoughts in their heads at once, as if it must be one or the other.

            I believe both exist. I believe there are proclivities and prejudices both natural and artificially instilled that lead to biases in both societies towards the other. I believe both are important to recognize. I don’t believe one should be more important to discuss than the other, much less one should only be discussed instead of the other. For me, both are key obstacles in the way of improving mutual understanding, respect, and progress.

            As such, I don’t feel compelled as you seemingly do to change the subject, to redirect attention. You hate it when the Chinese do so in discussions about their problems and yet you allow yourself to do the same thing.

            To put it simply, stuart, you seem to only have one response to these sort of discussions: “Well, let me tell you about the Chinese!” Now, I can understand your desire to dictate the discussion towards something you prefer, but…

          • -+

            “I don’t feel com­pelled as you seem­ingly do to change the sub­ject, to redi­rect atten­tion.”

            I harbour no such compulsion. And it certainly wasn’t under a paid directive from party HQ. Sometimes conversations wander off a true line. Sorry about that.

            I agree with Custer on the western media bias issue:

            Second of all, I think the whole “Western media bias” thing is less and less true. Look at the people who are in Beijing covering China for the Western press right now. There really isn’t a lot of bias.

            They do, of course, print plenty of stuff Xinhua wouldn’t, but let’s not confuse “accurate reporting” with “bias”. If the FACTS are negative, they should be reported. The Western media reports on corruption or HR violations are not biased by default.

            That was in response to a comment by serial apologist pug_ster. Good discussion: http://ow.ly/2se1A

          • -+

            Stuart,

            I think you’re incorrectly (and ultimately disrespectfully) invoking Custer’s name here. I agree with Custer that reporting “negative” facts is not by default “biased”, which I agree is something that some Chinese people are wont to think. However, I think you’re smart enough to know that my belief in the existence of Western media bias is based on something much more substantive than that.

            That said, I’d rather not engage in a fruitless discussion over the existence of western media bias with you. We’ve been down that road before and ultimately it ends with you thinking its not worth people’s attention and I simply disagreeing with you. Bleh, if I have to engage in an argument with you, I’d rather entertain a different discussion, something new.

          • -+

            Well, I certainly agree that bias is an unavoidable component of any medium, ‘western’ media included. I just think the extent of the latter is way overcooked, particularly in view of the overall heterogeneity of viewpoints. As someone argued earlier, it’s not all Fox News. Further, for every Fox News absurdity there’s a Jon Stewart skit to cut it down to size.

            It’s no coincidence either that the loudest promoters of ‘western media bias’ are those countries whose governments take a rather dim view of media freedom. What such media-strangled countries desperately need is their own Daily Show whose host rips into the petty rhetoric trickling down from their hierarchical overlords. And there’s no shortage of material – one Qin Gang press conference alone would keep our China host going for weeks. But what does China offer as it’s answer to Jon Stewart? with Yang Rui. I rest my case.

            Almost.

            Satirical resistance and contrary opinion in the west does not operate with one hand (or both) tied behind its back. In that sense it’s self-regulatory. The greater danger to the balanced view of a civil society comes from a powerful China that uses its growing influence to thwart pluralism. A part of that effort, it seems to me, has been to successfully foster in its own people the notion of an ‘anti-Chinese western media’.

            I know we disagree on this, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s in the nature of a plural society.

            “I think you’re incor­rectly (and ulti­mately dis­re­spect­fully) invok­ing Custer’s name here.”

            I have to refute that. It’s because I respect him as a more measured and knowledgeable commenter on Sino matters than me that I quoted Custer in the first place.

          • -+

            Damn! That should read: ‘Dialogue with Yang Rui’ at the end of the 2nd paragraph. And feel free to remove the wasteful apostrophe just preceding it.

          • koi pond

            -+

            As someone who’s been browsing the China blogs, especially the ones written by Kai, for several years but rarely joins the conversations, I have to say, Kai, you should know better than to argue with stuart. Given his eager appearance all over the China blogs, it’s easy to see he has a long list of complaints against the Chinese people (everybody knows he hates the CCP in an apoplectic fashion so it’s not even worth mentioning): the Chinese (all of them, the same below) are racist against him, the Chinese abuse animals, the Chinese are brainwashed, the Chinese are barbarians, the Chinese are racist against his wife, the Chinese killed in Urumqi deserved it… in short, the Chinese are worse than any other people on earth.

            Over there at the Granite Studio, stuart got a hose-down several weeks ago from Jeremiah for saying the ethnic Chinese people (many of them French citizens) protesting violence and discrimination in some quarters of Paris were hypocrites and they really didn’t suffer any injustice. Jeremiah recommended Foucault to him but it’s doubtful he ever will read the books and become less hate-oriented.

            So you captured it pretty well – stuart often complains that the Chinese people have been horrendously racist towards him, but he refuses to believe or belittles anyone who believe that some people in the West are racists against the Chinese. He hates the Chinese for even mentioning the Opium War or Yuanmingyuan and says he doesn’t have anything to do with what happened then, but he accuses, for example, the protesters in Paris for a hypothetical situation where they wouldn’t tolerate a Tibetan flag.

            He accuses the CCP of brainwashing the Chinese, yet he belittles the opinion of every Chinese who has the gall to suggest that perhaps, just perhaps, the West is not an angel. He doesn’t comment on the skin color of the Chinese people as a whole, but he refuses to believe they can think for themselves, thus delegitimizing them as mindless drones, which are less human.

            There’s a salient example that can best demonstrate his attitude: quite some time ago, some Chinese commenter at the old site of Chinageeks said some people in the West want China to fail, and stuart immediately went ballistic, but that commenter soon pointed out that C. Custer had said literally the same thing several days before, and stuart’s at that time agreed with Custer (followed by a but, of course, but in a polite tone).

            So yes, he changes his attitude towards the same remark solely on the basis of the ethnicity of the speaker (if it’s a Westerner, he’s polite; if it’s a Chinese person, he automatically attacks), that speaks volumes about him. People like him are quite rare on the China blogs.

          • -+

            Dear Mr Pond,

            “As some­one who’s been brows­ing the China blogs … for sev­eral years but rarely joins the con­ver­sa­tions”

            I’ll wager you haven’t been as abstemious as you would like your current moniker have us believe.

            “… the Chi­nese … are racist against him, the Chi­nese abuse ani­mals, the Chi­nese are brain­washed, the Chi­nese are bar­bar­ians, … the Chi­nese killed in Urumqi deserved it… in short, the Chi­nese are worse than any other peo­ple on earth.”

            Without foundation; without credibility; and without a shred of truth. Here is the reply I offered to similarly slanderous remarks that you make below:

            You are badly mis­taken; I’ve never done any such thing, old sport. The Chi­nese government’s malign influ­ence on its pop­u­lace is a fre­quent – and wor­thy – tar­get of my cri­tique, not the Chi­nese people.

            Your petty mud­sling­ing leaves me no alter­na­tive but to assume that you have seri­ous delu­sions about the state of your own ade­quacy. I for­give you because I don’t hold you entirely respon­si­ble for this state of affairs.

            “Over there at the Gran­ite Stu­dio, stu­art got a hose-down sev­eral weeks ago from Jere­miah for say­ing … blah blah blah … Jere­miah rec­om­mended Fou­cault … blah blah …”

            Jeremiah disagreed with me and said so. I’m happy to have him take issue with me because I have the utmost respect for him. As for what you believe I said, I would invite anyone who is interested enough to see for themselves:
            http://ow.ly/2sZZI

            “He … says he doesn’t have any­thing to do with what hap­pened [the Opium War or Yuan­mingyuan]…”

            I really didn’t.

            “…he belit­tles the opin­ion of every Chi­nese who has the gall to sug­gest that per­haps, just per­haps, the West is not an angel.”

            I’ll let Blake take care of this one:

            Fiery the angels rose, and as they rose deep thunder roll’d
            Around their shores: indignant, burning with the fires of Orc.

            “…quite some time ago, some Chi­nese com­menter at the old site of Chi­nageeks said some peo­ple in the West want China to fail, and stu­art imme­di­ately went bal­lis­tic…blah blah…”

            Doubtful, bro. Ballistic isn’t really something I do. You seem to be smouldering quite nicely, though.

            “…he changes his atti­tude towards the same remark solely on the basis of the eth­nic­ity of the speaker”

            BS. It matters not a speck of cosmic dust to me whether you’re French, Japanese, a creature from the deep, or a visitor from a distant galaxy. Of some concern for your personal development, however, is your inclination to deliberately misrepresent and lie about people who don’t share your worldview.

            As I said earlier: I forgive you.

        • Jones

          -+-1

          One might deduce that any form of media covering the topic of “Western Media Bias”, needing a story and therefore blowing it vigorously over and over, would be…biased, overzealous, etc.

  3. zball

    -++1

    Media cook information for its audience tastes. We are born to be biased when it comes to judging things between yours and ours. It’s just as simple as that.

    • pug_ster

      -+

      Agreed. The big difference between Chinese and Western Media is that Western Media actually brag that it is unbiased when it is not.

  4. -+

    I think the end of your post gets at what I was saying in the email with DeWang. It is about individualized checks. The answer to “who checks the American public” needs to be individuals ought to check themselves and each other. I wholly agree that we need to recognize that fairness is a myth, that skepticism leads people to question media characterizations.

    Just as the public has an obligation to check institutions, the individuals that comprise that public have a reciprocal obligation to check themselves and each other. As you pointed out with the Iraq example, sometimes that check fails. But we have new ways of communicating now, of transmitting and interpreting news media, that can enhance our ability to question institutionally, and socially imposed ideologies.

    • -+-1

      Hi Rosa,

      I think this is a very wise perspective – the public should “check” itself.

      It’d say it is similar at the core to what Chinese philosopher Xun Zi observed – ones conduct internally governs the same externally. That applies to nation states too. He might have really liked this “check and balance” idea.

  5. William

    -+

    It doesn’t really make sense to argue about whether or not something is dangerous in the abstract. The question is, dangerous to who?

    • -+

      I think it is implicit that it is dangerous to people in general, to anyone who might later regret acting upon that something or whatever conclusions that something fosters.

      Perhaps more specifically, DeWang would say that something is dangerous to China and the Chinese who may have to deal with a United States willing to use its military against it over exaggerated or unfounded fears (in the Chinese eyes).

      Perhaps it would be the Americans who would realize too late that those fears were exaggerated or unfounded, regret the military belligerence they came to use, and regret the damage it has done to both sides of the relationship, if not just themselves.

  6. -+

    The pictures say it all – people holding signs condemning ‘bias’ (but not providing any actual instances thereof) whilst also waving signs saying “祖国加油” and wearing T-shirts proclaiming “I ♥ China”. Is their goal to eliminate ‘bias’ (of which they do not provide an actual bona fide example), or merely to get people to talk nice about China? Can these people see the difference between others saying things they don’t like, and actual lies?

    The end result, of course, is a mindset wherein a report is ‘biased’ or even ‘propaganda’ if it does not contain a certain statistic presented in the desired form. An intolerant, inflexible, and unreasonable mindset.

    • -+

      To be fair, FOARP, protests by their nature are to get attention first. They’re not meant to provide actual instances thereof right off the bat. The accusation and grievance is aired in hopes of beginning a conversation where actual instances are then shared/discussed. Protests can also be rallies, and rallies are displays of support. In the pictures, I’d say their goal is simultaneously to challenge bias (you’d likely get an actual bona fide example if you really didn’t know and was willing to talk to them) and show people that they support China.

      Personally, I think these people’s ability to differentiate between things they don’t like and things they genuinely believe to be lies is the same as people everywhere else. I don’t think trying to argue that these people have less of an ability to do so is a productive avenue of discussion. It is little different from arguing that being “Western” predisposes “Western media” to be biased.

      This stuff plays out quite similarly everywhere there is a divisive and contentious issue, whether it is Israel vs. Palestine, immigration policies, or conservative vs. liberal politics. There are people who suffer from intolerant, inflexible, and unreasonable mindsets whenever they hold strong beliefs or grievances.

      I went to Berkeley. Trust me, it can be a caricature of all this.

      • -+

        I certainly wasn’t trying to imply that Anti-CNNers are the only people who do this. in fact I was going to ref. the pro-Israel crowd as another example of this, but I didn’t want to go OT.

    • Simon Ningbo

      -+

      Exactly. It’s a people demonstrating for media to have a different, but most certainly no bias.

  7. -++2

    Unfortunately the concept of any media being unbiased is a naive one!
    It’s not that media necessary intends to be; it’s just that media is made by people and people are biased.
    I looked for something by Carl Jung (which I considered a good balance of East and West given that he was Western but his studies tended to concentrate on Eastern views of philosophy).
    And then decided that rather than continue a debate which is destined to continue as a debate I’d throw in a quote or two from the great man that I think may be worth considering as part of the debate…

    It all depends on how we look at things, and not how they are in themselves.

    Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness, and the word happy would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness. It is far better take things as they come along with patience and equanimity.

    Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.

    With the caveat that his words read as if they’ve come straight from Tao Te Ching… I’d hate anybody to think I’d written this with the intent of a Western bias; although it’s impossible for me not to given that it’s where I’m from ;)

  8. Bin Wang

    -+

    This is less about intentional bias one way or another, but more about pure sensationalism and what “news” sells in the valuation of news as a commodity in a market based economy. News, to be valuable/profitable, has to be sensational, attention-grabbing, but also credible. Stirring up credible antagonistic feelings between the West and China is much more valuable than writing stories about how we’re all good friends, because it feeds into the innate fears and prejudices of the public. Simply, the headlines are “biased” because the public is more likely to pay to “consume” news about Sino-West difficulties than news about Sino-West friendly relations. People love “news” when it tells them what they want to hear.

    Why does it not surprise me that stuart thinks the CPC is orchestrating things? The Western Chinese response we saw during the Olympics was far more grassroots than folks with pre-disposed beliefs like stuart are willing to accept/admit. Beijing may be powerful stuart, but believe me, it has little control/say in the lives/actions of Western Chinese. It’s not like we’re all sleeper cells with little transister radios at home, waiting to carry out Beijing’s every directive.

    • King Tubby

      -+

      Bin Wang. I generally agree with the tenor of your remarks and love the transister metaphor right out of the RKO b/w sci-fi archive. Brings to mind The Manchurian Candidate. Two points.

      The Western media is not some unitary object, but to read this thread you would think so…. a rabid obsession with the more strident sections of the US market. Fox, CNN et al don’t even get a look in where I live, and events in China only get a factual (minus editorial) mention on our multicultural news service.

      Finally, re your remarks about Beijing orchestration of os Chinese during the Torch tour. Sure, orchestration is the caricature. Assisted/aided and abetted would be a more apt description. (Cheer Team Partners….Cheer Team Stakeholders)

      Now, this is the third time I have had to correct you on this matter re torch tour thru Canberra, and I am getting really tired of it. The Chinese embassy distributed flags, buntings etc, assisted in mobilising Chinese community and student groups and paid for the bus services. In all 9 people were charged with assault, 7 being Chinese who set upon folk with FT banners.

      We were also too well-mannered to object to Chinese special military forces (the Torch protectors) on our soil without permission, and couldn’t get the circus back into international airspace quickly enough.

      There is bias, caricature expectation and importantly, FACTS, and in some instances, the factual realm can be used to provide the scaffolding for the processes which you find objectionable.

      • Bin Wang

        -+

        I would have to kindly disagree KT. I don’t know much about how it went down in Canberra, but I know from personal knowledge that much of the “support the torch” rallying here in the U.S. were genuine and grass roots (i.e., organized by regular Chinese Americans), and not predominantly “assisted/aided/abetted” by the CPC.

        • King Tubby

          -+

          Thanks for your prompt response. I was definitely not discounting your claim that there was genuine support by os Chinese of whatever citizenship for the Games. Simply bringing some regional facts to the occasion.

          Another fact. The second major television outlet here is a multicutural one with a news service beyond anything found in the US or even the UK. Also have very serious Federal legislation which comes down hard on one-eyed reporting and ranting. If Xinhua modus operandi reporting was practised here, the whatever media outlet would be defending itself in court every other day.

          I for one avoid US outlets like the plague, and would opt for Deutsche Welle and Al Jazeera anyday after local SBS.

          *****Reporting**** by the Xinhua empire provides the grist for half the bridge blogs presently in existence. And that really says something about how silly are some of the media op pieces and responses found on this site. Finally, robust debate is both valuable and fun. Cheers.

      • Simon Ningbo

        -++1

        As long as CNN, Fox News are synonyms for “Western media” we are bound to have a very distorted and ridiculous discussion. There is so much more factual, sober, non-sensationalist reporting about China in Western media than the opposite, but it just gets ignored by Bin Wang et al. despite the fact that he should know better. Is there a bias towards China in Western media? Certainly, but it comes in all shades and colours, impossible to determine an overall trend unless you’re proficient in more languages and read more media than I do. At least in English, French and German media there certainly is no anti-China bias, if you think there is you better back it up with facts for once instead of propagating the same boring old nonsense.

        • Bin Wang

          -++1

          Simon — It is just as difficult for you to cite “facts” for the evenness of Western media reporting on China as it is for me to cite “facts” for the lack of evenness. This is a matter of perception, and unless you’ve been keeping figures, you also cannot do exactly what you purport to challenge me to do. How convenient for you.

          Perhaps it is because I am in the U.S. that I do see, disproportionately, the likes of CNN and FOX. That said, even according to you, one might see the perceived bias for those types of sources. But as I said, perhaps it’s not entirely intentional, but merely sensationalistic for business reasons. However, given what I saw of French and German news during the torch relays, I can’t say I am convinced by the alleged even-handedness of reporting RE: China from such Continental sources.

          Nevermind “factual, sober, non-sensationalist” reporting about China, there seems to be an increasing lack of factual, sober, non-sensationalist reporting, period. In the U.S., anti-China feeling can come from left and right — left using the “human rights” angle, and right from the “red scare” angle. The Continential bias is, from my understanding, predominantly the former, and not the latter. That said, I think full embracing of the “Free Tibet” angle, as I think the Continental media did before and during the Olympics, is no less sensationalistic, without fully understanding the complicated relationships and history at play.

          I think your point and challenge fail to hold water.

          • Simon Ningbo

            -+

            You just repeat your bias re continental European sources without naming a single newspaper or article.
            I still think you’re not actually reading any newspapers or media other than CNN and Fox News, otherwise you’d know better.
            I just used the search engine of the following newspapers:
            Le Monde (Fr), Spiegel (Ger), FAZ (Ger), Figaro (Fr) and even the BBC and couldn’t find a single article on the first search page talking about either human rights absuses in China or Free Tibet. And I can’t remember the last time I’ve actually read something about the two topics from non-Chinese sources.
            So what are you going on about ? Are you just repeating your silly “Western media” bias ad absurdum until you actually believe it yourself ? Or where is it ?
            I read a lot of news from different media, all media have a bias, but it’s mostly a very transparent bias that I can identify and filter out if needed.
            Just because Western media were critical about some of the aspects of Beijing Olympics and you happened to love it doesn’t make your assumptions true.
            So why not back it up with something factual ? Where are all the evil biased media reports about Chian, because I can’t happen to read any, but maybe that’s because I don’t confuse Western media with mainstream American partisan media….

          • Bin Wang

            -+-1

            Simon

            The Contintental liberal approach to anti-Chinese is pretty evident. Even if “Free Tibet” hasn’t been in the news as much lately, at least during 2008/Beijing Olympics, Continental sources were heavily pro Free Tibet.

            FYI — Here’s something they proudly display themselves … all the pro Free Tibet stuff in the news:

            http://www.freetibet.org/newsmedia/2008-protests-news-articles

            (1) If you scroll down all the substantial listings, you’ll see plenty of Contintental sources.

            (2) Reuters/AP is heavily represented, and you know they are the sources which are heavily republished in smaller papers.

            (3) Yes I know, this isn’t necessarily anti-China, but merely “pro Tibet.” I understand the nuanced difference here. However, to the extent that I made the point that much of the anti-China bias from the Left is from the human rights/Free Tibet angle, I think this list is highly relevant.

            Also, see my below post citing recent CNN article RE: Chinese military. But I assume you admit, American sources are sensationalist, but your point is about other non-U.S. “Western” sources.

            But your point is also minor. America leads the “West.” Therefore, American “news” leads, perhaps not above the BBC, but certain above the French/German sources. In the calculation of what is “Western” media, you’d have to weight the American sources more heavily. So no, there is no assumption being made here, just a quick calculation of what is substantial/predominant.

          • Bin Wang

            -+-1

            Let me put it this way. I care more about what an American thinks (and he/she reads predominantly materials which you admit to be more sensationalist/partisan/biased) than what a Frenchman or German thinks because an American politician cares more about what his/her constituents think than what Europeans think. American politicians have more pull than French or German politicians and lead in the international actions.

            As you said, sure the Continental sources were far more doubtful about the link between Iraq/Saddam and alleged WMDs. But guess what, troops are still in Iraq and have been now for years, and at least in the beginning, the Brits and the Continentals merely acquiesced and tagged along. This is why your point, even if you win on it (which is doubtful given the listings I just posted), is a minor one in the overscheme of the point being argued here.

    • -+

      Hi Bin,

      The “unintentional bias” within a really powerful nation has a disproportional impact on a weaker nation when it comes to “fairness” between the two.

      Human nature is self-serving. My fear is between nations (as in between home teams), it’s likely more than just “pure sensationalism” at play.

      • Bin Wang

        -+

        Sure, the two big boys left on the block, they’re bound to talk smack about each other. Your use of the term “powerful nation,” is somewhat confusing. From many senses, China is not much less “powerful” than, say, the U.S. However, I agree, from a media/P.R. saavy angle, the “West” is far more “powerful.”

        Again, as I reference above, the thing that scares me is that anti-China feeling is one of the few things that both left and right can agree upon today in the U.S. As partisan as American politics has become, that is truly a scary proposition. Sensationalism from both the left’s “human rights” attack and the right’s “red scare” attack is troubling indeed.

    • -+

      “Bei­jing may be pow­er­ful stu­art, but believe me, it has lit­tle control/say in the lives/actions of West­ern Chi­nese.”

      Twenty years from now you might not care to be reminded of the exact time and place you were when you wrote that.

      “It’s not like we’re all sleeper cells with lit­tle tran­sis­ter radios at home, wait­ing to carry out Beijing’s every directive.”

      Perish the thought. Experts agree that there’s no such thing as centrally organised Chinese espionage.

      • Bin Wang

        -+

        If you’ve got a point to make stuart, make it. Otherwise, these cheap laughs types of comments of yours just take up space.

        • -+

          Actually I made a very serious point about where all this is heading in the coming decades. Sorry you missed that.

        • koi pond

          -+

          And here he goes again, hinting ethnic Chinese people in the West are spies.

          It’s easy to find and understand one’s opposition to the CCP, but the constant attack on the Chinese people, Chinese nationals and citizens of other countries alike, should make people see clearly what he is.

          • King Tubby

            -+

            Mr Pond. Don’t lurk and read over years. If you don’t like a posters point of view, hit the keyboard and sink the boot in. It’s all alpha males here.

            What the f….. would you know about Foucault, my friend. Read the liner notes on D@P in the HK bookshop. God, we had the tosser bai ren referencing him months ago and misspelling his name, and now another fool who is trying to impress with academic references.

            Want a serious talk about Foucault et al, give me a mail address, otherwise get lost.

          • -+

            “…but the con­stant attack on the Chi­nese peo­ple, Chi­nese nation­als and cit­i­zens of other coun­tries alike”

            You’re are badly mistaken; I’ve never done any such thing, old sport. The Chinese government’s malign influence on its populace is a frequent – and worthy – target of my critique, not the Chinese people.

            Your petty mudslinging leaves me no alternative but to assume that you have serious delusions about the state of your own adequacy. I forgive you because I don’t hold you entirely responsible for this state of affairs.

            Peace.

          • -+

            Sorry Koi, just calling it as I have professionally and personally have seen it. Whether it is for patroitism or for simple greed, there have enough incidents to spawn general conclusions in the certain industral and manufacturing sectors in North America and Europe.

          • lolz

            -+

            Koi I think you should follow your own advice about arguing with trolls. I think it’s pretty obvious that he hates Chinese people altogether, which makes you wonder why the hell would he bother to live in China because that would simply make him more miserable, but one is entitled to his own opinions.

          • -+

            “I think it’s pretty obvi­ous that he … blah blah blah”

            lolz, old sport, did you get the same head office memo as comrade koi?

            Either way, I humbly refer you to my reply above.

  9. Simon Ningbo

    -+

    The fact that there is no distinction between Western and US media and that all posters here probably can’t even read most Western media is symptomatic of the quality of this discussion.
    I will just give you a hint: There wasn’t a single newspaper or media I consumed that followed the silly connection of 9/11 – Al Qaida – Saddam – Iraq – WMDs.
    I let you figure out the rest.. but to discuss on such a low level is pretty pointless.

    • Simon Ningbo

      -+

      The fact that there is no distinction between Western and US media and that most posters here probably can’t even read most Western media (no, it’s not all in English..) is symptomatic of the quality of this discussion.
      I will just give you a hint: There wasn’t a single newspaper or media I consumed that followed the silly connection of 9/11 – Al Qaida – Saddam – Iraq – WMDs.
      I let you figure out the rest.. but to discuss on such a low level is pretty pointless.

      • Jones

        -++2

        Reading this site, you’d get the idea that at least 50% of all news broadcasts in the Western Hemisphere is anti-China fear-mongering. While at work, I saw something on big bad CNN about China surpassing Japan on the economic scales. Hardly any bias there. Before that, it was a month of silence following UFO sightings in Hangzhou. Now, if I owned a news organization and wanted real media bias, I’d do countless reports on any crime in China, and probably write breathless articles on why they’re the ones who are biased and not us.

        • Simon Ningbo

          -++1

          Exactly, the only reports I’ve read about China in recent months was about wage increases (positive) and ongoing strong gdp growth (positive).
          Why not back up all these ridiculous claims for once ?
          Where are all these negative reports people talk about ?

          • Bin Wang

            -+

            I posted this one in commentary to the previous article:

            http://​www​.cnn​.com/​2​0​1​0​/​W​O​R​L​D​/​a​s​i​a​p​c​f​/​0​8​/​1​6​/​u​s​.​c​h​i​n​a​.​m​i​l​i​t​a​r​y​/​i​n​d​e​x​.​h​t​m​l​?​h​p​t​=​S​bin

            And, as stuart astutely mentions below, I am not entirely convinced that the reporting RE: China’s economy being #2 is wholly without intent to scare.

          • Jones

            -+-1

            It says “Page not found”.

            If reporting that China surpassing Japan did have intent to scare, then how might one report it without an intent to scare? Just not mention it? But then we’d have people saying “oh, why didn’t they report this news that shows China’s growth?” Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

            Seriously, guys. Most of the fear-mongering being generated is this fear of “Western Media Bias” against China. For every news article featuring China in a bad light, there must be three times the amount of “they’re not being fair!!!1″ on the internet, in the streets, etc.

          • -+

            I don’t really like the tone with which Jones is approaching this topic, but this is something I agree with and want to elaborate on:

            If reporting that China surpassing Japan did have intent to scare, then how might one report it without an intent to scare? Just not mention it? But then we’d have people saying “oh, why didn’t they report this news that shows China’s growth?” Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

            I had a similar feeling in response to DeWang’s argument over the Newsy video. To me, I felt he interpreted a clear “intent to scare” in something that I didn’t think had one. This is where I think examples and battles must be carefully chosen and persuasively argued, which I don’t think happened when DeWang chose that particular Newsy article (as he’s acknowledged himself afterward).

            I think a lot of “anti-Western bias” is read into, projected onto a lot of (but not all) Western media reports. This happens when some media report that is arguably biased pollutes how some people interpret other media reports. If you read some Western editorial or hear some Western talking head bemoaning the dangers of a rising China and then see another news outlet reporting on China becoming the number 1 energy consumer, you may be predisposed to interpret the very reporting in the latter as part of some sort of alarmist anti-China media bias…when it may just be a “hey, this is news” report.

            This human phenomenon will exaggerate human perceptions of how much media bias there really is.

            Western media bias exists, there is bias in the Western media. Not all of it, not uniformly, but there certainly is. Having good examples and persuasive arguments of such will help more people recognize and better understand it. Having bad examples and unpersuasive arguments will lead more people to think you’re just kicking up a fuss over nothing. When the latter happens, it doesn’t affect whether Western media bias exists or not, but it does influence people’s recognition of such.

          • Jones

            -++1

            I’m not sure how you perceive my tone, but basically my point is that when you take an active stance against some things, you run the risk of becoming guilty of the same thing (sort of) yourself. If you choose media bias, then it’s very possible, and I think likely, that you’ll end up become biased yourself to the point that, yes, you end up reading into it a bit too much to get the reaction you want. The mistrust will continue to grow until you start getting ridiculous about it.

          • Jones

            -+-1

            Basically not, that I see, far off from what you’re saying. At least the general idea.

          • Bin Wang

            -+

            Here’s the link, I must have made an error in copying/pasting:

            http://www.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/asiapcf/08/16/us.china.military/?hpt=T2

            I agree, there may be an element of damned if you do and damned if you don’t in this. I am not saying it’s difficult. Are many Chinese oversensitive, sure, I don’t deny that. The point is, stuart seems to think 100% of this stems from some sort of CPC education program. That’s false. Objectively, I think there is material legitimate reason for many Chinese to be weary of Western intentions … not the least of which seems to be guys like stuart being so adamant about knowing what’s wrong with/best for China. When you disagree with him, he makes jokes about how you’ve been brain washed by the CPC and responds in a general condescending/haughty manner. Oh wait, that’s me being taught by the CPC to be over sensitive about things again …

          • -+

            Yes, Jones, I’ve said as much in response to DeWang in the main body of these two posts. I agree.

        • -+

          Western media is busy reporting on the surpassing of Japan’s economy to make China look bad and scary. Obvious case of demonisation.

        • lolz

          -+

          If you want real media bias just continue to interview only Tibetan activists on articles about Tibet.

  10. whichone

    -++1

    News today is infotainment, they are not not about political content, they are corporations looking to make money. The biases, when they do exist, aren’t shaped by evil business oligarchs and secret government agendas, they are a result of people’s natural anxiety over a the rise of a nation that challenges the established political, military, and economic supremacy of the the “West”. Thus, news directors see ratings and profit in reporting certain news and they follow the only rule in infotainment that matters – give the people what they want.

    Similarly, I think these protester aren’t really angry at the inaccuracies so much as they are demonstrating their own distress with news that depict China in a negative light, which does not jive well cognitively with their established notions.

    It’s sadly ironic that these protesters do not hold signs blasting the far more egregious inaccuracies and sometimes blatant lies in Chinese media. The reason is simple, the Chinese media are so blatantly bad at hiding their bias (if they tried hiding them at all) that people rarely believe the “official” story.

  11. Paul

    -+

    I think that Chinese people are angry because currently the ”Western” press is the dominant global media voice and the Chinese press cannot get it’s point of view across.
    The Chinese media is gagged by the government whether overtly or through self-censorship. This leads to feelings of frustration and powerlessness in the general public who then have to find someone to vent their frustrations on – ‘the western press’. When actually the ‘western press’ are simply doing their job. It is the crippled and gagged Chinese press that is the problem here.
    Of course the ‘western press’ has a western bias, that is unavoidable as it is written by ‘Westerners’.
    Here’s waiting for a free, modern, efficient and robust Chinese press that will even things out a bit, and stop all these pathetic moans of Western media bias.

    • -+

      Paul, that is NOT going to happen anytime soon – as evidenced with some rather insightful comments from an unlikely source:

      Penn & Teller B.S. – Patriotism

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jF2iX2VG6e4&NR=1

    • Simon Ningbo

      -+

      I very much agree with the idea of establishing more quality news sources in our increasingly multi-polar world, that’s why I consider Al Jazeera as one of my favourite news sources, because it reports on world affairs in a very professional manner and at the same time provides a different viewpoint to the established English news channels. But if you compare Chinese News channels to Al Jazeera you realize how far China has to go to be taken seriously as a credible news source.

      • koi pond

        -+

        Please, read the ocean of Chinese news uncovering local corruption. Of course, they’re not allowed to go beyond the local level, but given the limited space they operate in, their reporting and analysis is world class.

        Do you regularly read such news in Chinese? Probably not, or else you wouldn’t say what you said.

        • Simon Ningbo

          -+

          I suggest you re-read my post, I was talking about global news reporting all over the world, commenting on world affairs, not just local rags uncovering local corruption. Al Jazeera can be received all over the world and provides excellent reporting, which Chinese news outlet offers the same in the same quality?
          See, now you actually understood my post.

        • King Tubby

          -+

          Mr Pond. World class investigative journalism. What mushroom do you live under? Probably the hallucigenic kind. It is either local small fry without protection, or major league biz characters, who thought they were too big for the Party and needed to be taught a lesson.

          Now you now are a dual expert: Foucault and investigative journalism in China.

          Don’t keep us in suspense. What else does your skill set include?

          You have left me breathless. A real heavy hitter joins CD.

    • lolz

      -+

      “and stop all these pathetic moans of West­ern media bias.”

      Paul you are whining about whining.

      If the “free, modern, efficient” Western press does a shitty job of reporting on China and misrepresents facts, just why should Chinese press become “free, modern, efficient”? So that it can misrepresent facts about the Western nations like the Western media about China?

      Western media’s biased reporting on China is not going to do its audiences any good just like Chinese media following the party line isn’t going to do Chinese readers any good.

      • Paul

        -+

        ”If the “free, mod ern, effi cient” West ern press does a shitty job of report ing on China and mis rep re sents facts” – a bit of a generalisation. There’s a lot of crap reporting from the west about China, but there’s also some that’s not as bad as you make out. Furthermore the Chinese gov doesn’t exactly make it easy for journalists in China. For example, the Tibet riots of 2008 – pretty difficult to give an accurate appraisal of what’s happening on the ground when you’re not allowed to go there.

  12. King Tubby

    -++1

    Re: China passing Japan to become the world’s second largest economy. Pretty well the dumbest headline of 2010. Nations are a lot more than productive import/export enterprises. Zero sum competitions between nations.

    Gini rankings, happiness quotients, environmental entities, the list of other benchmarks is almost endless.

    • King Tubby

      -+

      No one biting. Well, here is the second dumbest headline of 2010…a reference to Bin’s not found CNN article which certainly focusses on the present upgrading of China’s military assets, its projection into the South China, general hurt statements in the China Daily and stroppy statements by various uniforms about recent and forthcoming US military exercises.

      Well, the US is an imperial power in economic decline. Spends a higher % of GDP on its industrial military complex than China (by a country mile), while China is starting from a very much lower baseline. Not to forget that the US routinely upgrades its shock and awe skill sets in the Middle East.

      Did a search the other day and believe, there are also many realistic/sober views among China’s military about its present day capacity to militarily challenge the US. They are not going to throw away post DJP economic gains by turning to military solutions, chest thumping for the benefit of their domestic chattering classes notwithstanding.

      My point. It is not surprising that strident (I include the NYTs here) sections of the US media are looking to link PRC military upgrade and its 2nd economy status. Joining the two narratives. China has unwittingly assisted this narrative linkage among US vox populi. Unwitting assistance??? Your homework, as if have to drive to a polling booth, hold my nose and vote for Lu Kewen’s party.

      • Bin Wang

        -+

        I don’t disagree with you, KT, that the U.S. is in some trouble in this dept. As I commented about before, it’s an exponential curve. When China upgrades from a 2 to a 4, the U.S. will feel a need to go from a 7 to a 9. Except that it’s far more expensive to go from 7 to 9 than it is to go from 2 to 4. No doubt a speedy path to ruin, this fear-mongering in order to feed/justify the growing military industrial complex.

        • King Tubby

          -+

          A quick one. This exponential military curve game. It is rapidly becoming superflous (sic) what with climate change and global environmental problems. Thats the new and really frightening exponential curve, and one which I refer to often, and which never gets a response.
          Both US and China will both end up as feather dusters when climate change really begins to bite…PRC has had a great year in that dept. And since I rant from outside the US-PRC coupling, let’s not forget BP.

  13. xian

    -+

    Never understood what the big deal is. There is no such thing as fair media and there never will be. Media is always, always biased. If anyone claims Western media is unbiased, it is more because there are too many conflicting voices in Western media to be truly biased any way. The truly news savvy will always read the same news from all the reporting sides.

  14. -++3

    Kai,

    Personally, I feel that the main crux of your argument that deserves the most attention is that “bias” for someone might be perfectly “fair” for another. However, I think that people have missed the main point of the western media approach towards China. Most of western reporting about China is centered around two central points, which generally accompany the biased statements they make,

    a) The inclusion of only those facts which support their point of view i.e. selective reporting
    b) Publishing downright lies

    It is point b) which deserves the most attention. But sadly, most blogs only focus on a), and in conjunction with the media’s already biased viewpoint, take it as a basis for simply assuming that western media bias is, in your terms, an established “fact” (As if anyone had any doubts about that). Unfortunately, the basic premise remains that ABSOLUTELY NOTHING can be done about point a) above – the media will deliberately include only those facts which support that particular outlet/journalist/analyst’s point of view. This in fact the media’s definition. It is how the media works – by definition – it simply has to be biased, especially in democracies.

    Your argument that “I don’t think there can be an objec­tive “fair­ness”, only the “fair­ness” that the major­ity can exact from the whole.” (this is not the first time that I’ve seen you bring it up btw :-)) is true in general, but in this particular case, falters. Simply because, there might be, from the standards which we have come to expect from the western media, an excuse for the selective reporting of facts (“We are free to report what we want and to not report what we don’t want, since this is a democracy”, goes the standard argument); there is ABSOLUTELY NO EXCUSE for publishing lies. One can’t say, like you do, that there is no “objective” truth in this case, simply because a lie is a lie – regardless of whose viewpoint you consider. And I’ve often observed that in the English language Chinese blogosphere, the importance of this point is consistently sacrificed in favour of the traditional media bias attributable to selective reporting.

    The more philosophical the discussion about media bias becomes, the more it misses the point and moves away from what the actual argument should be about – the lies spread by the media, rather than just biased reporting in general. Because, as I said earlier, there is absolutely nothing that can be done about bias which operates in conjunction with selective reporting.

    There have been tons and tons of articles in the Western and Indian press were journalists and analysts have published shameless lies about China without any research (or remorse, for that matter). As they say, “Why let the truth get in the way of a good story?”.

    Hence, while it is absolutely essential to discuss about media bias and its causes, it is equally important to realise that the rise of China brings along with it numerous misconceptions, and it is these misconceptions which the western media exploits by twisting the truth and publishing lies. Which brings me to your argument about “fairness”. There is absolutely no excuse about lying in the press, and hence this standard flagship argument about the difference in perceptions of what is “biased” and “fair” and what is not, becomes utterly irrelevant.

    • -+

      a) The inclu­sion of only those facts which sup­port their point of view i.e. selec­tive report­ing

      b) Pub­lish­ing down­right lies

      Examples? Remembering of course that the same anti-CNN crowd who accuse the western media of ‘lies’ are also those who had my Chinese classmates in London back in ’08 convinced that the French president and team were going to boycott the opening ceremony of the Olympics, and hence they should boycott Carrefour (which did not happen)? That Tibetan pro-independence groups were found in possession of explosives, had been preparing and had used IEDs (something we have somehow never heard of since)? That the Dalai Lama ordered the ’08 violence (something for which no evidence has yet been produced)?

      It is not so clear that the western media has ‘lied’, or, indeed, generally only reported the facts which support ‘their point of view’ (whatever that is). It is, however, clear in the light of subsequent developments, that many in the anti-CNN camp were uncritically re-broadcasting CCP propaganda and just plain rumours back in ’08, and have continued to do so since then, whilst all the while condemning western media ‘lies’.

      • -+-1

        What is your take on this one?

        Harvard University study catches major U.S. media pants down – systematic reporting of U.S. waterboarding as not torture

        Of course, there will always be people whose response to these studies as: “where is the lie?” and “where is the selective reporting?”

      • lolz

        -+

        “my Chi­nese class­mates in Lon­don back in ’08 con­vinced that the French pres­i­dent and team were going to boy­cott the open­ing cer­e­mony of the Olympics, and hence they should boy­cott Car­refour”.

        LOL. FORAP is pretty good at obfuscation. The Carrefour boycott has alot more to do with the attack on Paralympic fencer Jin Jing by the pro-Tibetan protesters in France than the French President not going to the opening ceremony. FORAP may not think so but common sense would dictate that attacking paralyzed people tend to piss other people off. Plus, he should be happy that Chinese are learning no-violent forms of protests.

        “It is not so clear that the west­ern media has ‘lied’, or, indeed, gen­er­ally only reported the facts which sup­port ‘their point of view’ (what­ever that is). It is, how­ever, clear in the light of sub­se­quent devel­op­ments, that many in the anti-CNN camp were uncrit­i­cally re-broadcasting CCP pro­pa­ganda and just plain rumours back in ’08, and have con­tin­ued to do so since then, whilst all the while con­demn­ing west­ern media ‘lies’.”

        It is clear that anti-CNN has caught numerous Western media outlets making mistakes in their reporting. Western media’s anti-China bias is a separate issue from Chinese media’s pro-CCP bias. Just because the later is bad doesn’t mean that the former is okay. Anti-CNN’s existence is good for Western media because it forces Western reporters to work harder so they can get their facts right for their audience. I don’t think the anti-CNN folks would object to others making sites which mock the Chinese media. That would certainly improve Chinese reportings. One has to wonder though, why do FORAP and his ilks feel threatened by another group who has contributed to make the media more accurate?

        • -+

          @Dewang – Yes, some US media (but not the western media) has been reporting waterboarding (when performed by US forces) without referring to it as torture. In what way does this prove your actual accusation?

          @Lolz -

          “It is clear that anti-CNN has caught numer­ous West­ern media out­lets mak­ing mis­takes in their report­ing. “

          This is, I’m afraid, far from ‘clear’, since you have not actually provided any examples of what you are talking about. Similarly, I do not think that the Anti-CNN people have actually had any appreciable effect on reporting from China.

          • Jones

            -+

            I had no idea the anti-CNN people were still going on? They were pretty funny. I seriously, seriously doubt any news outlet here gives a crap about “Anti-CNN”, because “Anti-CNN” isn’t at all a global movement. It’s not like it’s on a Wikileaks level, and nor will it ever be. They don’t even have the international reach that the Tea Party has. That’s pretty pathetic.

          • -+

            @FOARP,

            Remember, I said this earlier:

            Of course, there will always be people whose response to these studies as: “where is the lie?” and “where is the selective reporting?”

            There is a fundamental difference between people like you and me. When things to me are lies and selective reporting – to you they’d just be fine – I am at a loss on how we go from here.

            I ignore people like you I guess. Feel free to do the same back.

          • -+

            @Dewang –

            There is a fun­da­men­tal dif­fer­ence between peo­ple like you and me. When things to me are lies and selec­tive report­ing – to you they’d just be fine – I am at a loss on how we go from here.

            I am very clear on “where we go”. I will not believe that there is some systematic campaign to ‘slander’ China unless you can give evidence that such a campaign exists.

            Since most of the time, when outlets have been accused of ‘lying’ about China, this has simply on the basis of western media reports disagreeing with Chinese ones, or the things referred to are not actually ‘lies’ (like the cropped photos from 2008, or the lack of a per capita pollution figure in the Newsy report) I am not convinced that there is any systematic bias in the western media.

            Now, you seem not to need any actual evidence to convince you that the western media is ‘biased’, but you should not think that others are under the same illusions that you are.

          • Jones

            -+

            To suggest that the Western Media is part of a conspiracy to misreport and outright lie about China is to suggest that every single news organization in the “West” is joining together to inexplicably pick on China. There’s no government force controlling or attempting to control all of these news sources or other types of mass information, which if they wanted to force some propaganda into the news, would be very helpful for that sort of thing. Now there are definitely mistakes in reporting, but honestly if there was an active attempt to make China look bad, we’d see a LOT more reports on China, and crime in China. Honestly, though, there’s barely any reports on China, ever.

          • pug_ster

            -+

            Jones, why not? About 20% of Americans believe Obama was not born in the US and about 20% believe he is a Muslim. So imagine what this ‘vast western media conspiracy’ could paint such a nice rosy picture of China.

          • Jones

            -+

            Wait, are you suggesting that the appalling ignorance of Fox News means that every single news source in the Western Hemisphere is conspiring against China? Who else keeps up the question of Obama’s birthplace and religion? I assume you can choose a better analogy if you’re going to continue trying to convince us of this conspiracy theory you’re latched onto. Until then, I’ll just continue to read the latest, most obviously anti-China article in the…(dramatic chord) BIASED WESTERN MEDIA (thunder clap)… about the new fad of dying pet dogs to resemble other animals or cartoon characters having reached China.

          • lolz

            -+

            “This is, I’m afraid, far from ‘clear’, since you have not actu­ally pro­vided any exam­ples of what you are talk­ing about. Sim­i­larly, I do not think that the Anti-CNN peo­ple have actu­ally had any appre­cia­ble effect on report­ing from China.”

            Is it really THAT hard to use google to search for things? Anti-CNN’s claim to fame was during the Tibet riot in 08. For numerous mistakes the Western media made in the coverage of this event, intentionally or not, you can easily find them here:
            http://www.zonaeuropa.com/200803c.brief.htm

            As for the effects of anti-CNN on Western media, all I can say is that I saw a lot less photo-caption “mistakes” in the coverage of the Uighur riots from Western media a year later. It’s difficult to prove one way or another how much of this can be attributed to anti-CNN but the Western media is clearly a lot more sensitive towards reporting in China today than it was 3 years ago. But then again, from Western Media’s handling of Muslim prophets in cartoons and definition of “torture”, you can easily conclude that the Western Media is almost thin-skinned as the CCP and is generally sensitive to public outcries.

            “I had no idea the anti-CNN peo­ple were still going on? They were pretty funny. I seri­ously, seri­ously doubt any news out­let here gives a crap about “Anti-CNN”, because “Anti-CNN” isn’t at all a global move­ment.”

            Anti-CNN isn’t a global movement, but there are alot more people out there who are demanding accurate reporting from the Western media than ever before. Jones should be happy with that if he cares about accuracy, but at the end of the day he likely doesn’t care about accuracy.

          • -+

            The problem being, of course, that Anti-CNN only ever ‘exposed’ some poor cropped and captioned photographs – something which happens all the time and still happens now, because the editing is not done by the reporters but by someone in an office half a world away. I do believe I discussed this in my previous comment.

          • -+

            “Anti-CNN isn’t a global move­ment, but there are alot more peo­ple out there who are demand­ing accu­rate report­ing from the West­ern media than ever before.”

            They’d do a lot more for the integrity of journalism if they concentrated their efforts closer to home. But the integrity of journalism isn’t really their agenda, is it?

          • Jones

            -+

            “Anti-CNN isn’t a global movement, but there are alot more people out there who are demanding accurate reporting from the Western media than ever before. Jones should be happy with that if he cares about accuracy, but at the end of the day he likely doesn’t care about accuracy.”

            Accuracy? I was on the marksmanship team back in high school. I got 7th place out of 400 competitors with the rifle back in 2000. I care about accuracy.

            Joking aside, though, yeah there are people demanding accuracy, demanding unbiased reporting, etc. I’m one of them. The best part is that these things can be achieved given the fact that there’s the whole freedom of the press thing. However, to suggest that Anti-CNN has any bearing in any sort of demand in the rest of the world, except China, in this demand for accuracy is wildly inaccurate. Everyone in the world, who has a basic understanding of photography and news, already knew that probably 95% of every published image is cropped.

            Anti-CNN is like the average overzealous, attention-seeking activist-wannabe college freshman. They generally have no idea what they talk about, never make any real contribution to any movement, and when they open their mouths, everyone else rolls their eyes.

    • -+

      DeWang personally asked me to revisit this thread just to respond to your comment, so here I am.

      I don’t really agree with you that most blogs only focus on a) selective reporting and don’t focus on b) downright lies. Frankly, I see plenty of both. You also have to remember that b) has the added complexity of whether or not the person uttering something you consider a lie actually believes what they are saying. There’s that extra level of “is this guy intentionally spreading lies or is he really just that ignorant/stupid?”

      However, calling b) out is really quite simple. You just prove them wrong (or offer an argument for how they’re wrong). Perhaps the reason you think a) gets more attention is precisely because it is less clear cut to prove or argue. As such, there could be more arguing involved. Why? Because it becomes a matter of demonstrating some sort of intent or motivation that may or may not be there. It’s easy to prove bias or prejudice when someone says something that’s clearly not true or clearly false. It’s harder to prove bias or prejudice in what information or data someone invokes.

      Next, frankly, I don’t really understand what you’re trying to say in your fourth paragraph (beginning with “Your argument…”) so I’d rather not try responding until I have a clearer idea of what you’re arguing.

      I disagree with your fifth paragraph. The reason the argument becomes philosophical is because you’re demanding others to see an objective truth or standard that is actually subjective. As I said at the beginning above, its easier to confront downright lies. Its harder to get people to think about how biases and prejudices result in selective reporting that then compounds pre-existing biases and prejudices. I’m less concerned about downright lies than I am about biased/selective reporting because one is the evil you can see and the other is the evil that not everyone sees and is harder to show. It is precisely because the latter is so subtle that it is usually far more dangerous. It doesn’t raise flags, it doesn’t get people to question, it just seeps into people as modus operandi.

      Finally, no one is arguing that there is an excuse for lying in the press.

      • -+

        I think there are other things to consider, a) and b) are easy to call out. But there are journalistic practices and external demands that complicate the equations. Given that 1) media outlets work on time constraints and want to “scoop” their competitors 2) people are generally apathetic about media, as evidenced by this thread. So (some)news organizations try “pursue objectivity” by adopting the dominant rhetoric surrounding an issue. I think a really good example of this is the phrase “Ground-Zero Mosque”. It is wholly imprecise, the Cordoba community center is not just a mosque, It’s not at ground zero at all but it’s a sexy, and for some reason controversial concept so news organizations run with it. If you were to refer to it as the Park 51 community center no one would know what you were talking about. So if a news organization wants you to read/watch their story they essentially have to use that phrasing. Especially online sources because of the nature of search engine results. I guess my overall point is that so much of what is wrong or dangerous about news media has nothing to do with overt bias, but rather the nature of of competition and external social, technological and cultural pressures. These tacit forms of bias are for more dangerous and far harder to account for with the space of a news story.

      • -+

        @Kai

        “You also have to remem­ber that b) has the added com­plex­ity of whether or not the per­son utter­ing some­thing you con­sider a lie actu­ally believes what they are say­ing. There’s that extra level of “is this guy inten­tion­ally spread­ing lies or is he really just that ignorant/stupid?”

        I don’t care what the reason is. If one is “ignorant/stupid”, one has no business calling oneself a journalist or analyst or an expert in the subject. When one publishes an accusation without there being any evidence for it, then that means that that person most certainly believes it, or, what is more likely, simply doesn’t care, because he/she knows that most people are going to fall for it anyway.

        How­ever, call­ing b) out is really quite sim­ple. You just prove them wrong (or offer an argu­ment for how they’re wrong). Per­haps the rea­son you think a) gets more atten­tion is pre­cisely because it is less clear cut to prove or argue.

        If calling b) out where really that simple, then more people would have called it out – simple!
        a) gets more attention because it is also EASY to argue – one can simply generalise the whole matter – like you did. b) is more difficult because nobody knows the truth anyway, and are too lazy to find it out, and believe what they read in the media. Of course, if one argues about specific to-the-point instances rather than philosophising the whole matter, then pointing out a) also becomes equally challenging, something which many people are shying away from by taking the easy way out.

        “The rea­son the argu­ment becomes philo­soph­i­cal is because you’re demand­ing oth­ers to see an objec­tive truth or stan­dard that is actu­ally sub­jec­tive.”

        Can the truth be subjective? A standard can be subjective, an opinion can be subjective, but can the TRUTH be subjective? Two plus two equals four. What is this truth subject to? Ones’ nationality? One’s ethnicity? One’s religious beliefs? Yes, it is such blatant ridiculousness that is going on in sections of the media nowadays – and the worse part is, this phenomenon is increasing.

        As I said earlier, your argument is true in general, i.e. the media can set subjective standards for itself, but in this particular case, that argument doesn’t hold water for reasons explained above.

        @Rosa

        “I think there are other things to con­sider, a) and b) are easy to call out. But there are jour­nal­is­tic prac­tices and exter­nal demands that com­pli­cate the equa­tions.

        Read my reply to Kai. Competition and “external demands” are no reason for lying and being irresponsible.
        Freedom of press is used as a common excuse for irresponsible journalism. The other excuse is “competition”.

        • -+

          Maitreya,

          No one is saying that competition and “external demands” are a “reason” for lying and being irresponsible.

          “Irresponsible journalism” is used as a common excuse for censorship and propaganda. The other excuse is “for the good of the people”.

          I don’t care what the rea­son is. If one is “ignorant/stupid”, one has no busi­ness call­ing one­self a jour­nal­ist or ana­lyst or an expert in the sub­ject.

          And who is to decide? I brought up this problem right from the beginning and we’ve come full circle.

          If call­ing b) out where really that sim­ple, then more peo­ple would have called it out – sim­ple!

          No, you’re confusing the simplicity of challenging something you have evidence as being a lie versus the lie being obvious enough for X amount of people to recognize it as such. I said the former, not the latter. I said it in response to your opinions on the amount of attention a) gets versus b). Again, you think a) gets more attention than b) and I’m suggesting that it is because a) is harder to prove and thus engenders more argument versus b).

          a) gets more atten­tion because it is also EASY to argue – one can sim­ply gen­er­alise the whole mat­ter – like you did. b) is more dif­fi­cult because nobody knows the truth any­way, and are too lazy to find it out, and believe what they read in the media.

          Come now…talk about generalizations…

          Look, you don’t have to agree with my suggestion for why I think instances of a) stand out more to you than instances of b) but I don’t really see how the “you’re generalizing” retort is meaningful. I mean, what do you want me to say in response to that? I’m most certainly generalizing somewhere but which generalization are you referring to and how does it progress this discussion?

          Of course, if one argues about spe­cific to-the-point instances rather than philosophis­ing the whole mat­ter, then point­ing out a) also becomes equally chal­leng­ing, some­thing which many peo­ple are shy­ing away from by tak­ing the easy way out.

          I have argued about specific to-the-point instances. They’re some of my most commented blog posts here. What are you talking about? What’s wrong with “philosophising” the whole matter? We’re talking about media bias, right? That’s a pretty large topic. I don’t know how you can avoid “philosophising” the reasons behind such a large issue or problem, and why such reasons are important to consider when trying to formulate a solution. DeWang came to ask how we can solve this problem, right? How is, well, here are the things to consider that will make finding a solution difficult/impossible, not a valid response?

          And how are people shying away from pointing out instances of a)? How are people taking the easy way out? What are you talking about?

          Can the truth be sub­jec­tive? A stan­dard can be sub­jec­tive, an opin­ion can be sub­jec­tive, but can the TRUTH be sub­jec­tive? Two plus two equals four. What is this truth sub­ject to? Ones’ nation­al­ity? One’s eth­nic­ity? One’s reli­gious beliefs? Yes, it is such bla­tant ridicu­lous­ness that is going on in sec­tions of the media nowa­days – and the worse part is, this phe­nom­e­non is increasing.

          Yes, truth can be subjective.

          As I said ear­lier, your argu­ment is true in gen­eral, i.e. the media can set sub­jec­tive stan­dards for itself, but in this par­tic­u­lar case, that argu­ment doesn’t hold water for rea­sons explained above.

          To be honest, I have no idea what you’re arguing and maybe that’s why I didn’t even read the above as being “reasons” for why “my argument doesn’t hold water”. Maybe we should start at square one:

          1) What’s my argument?
          2) What part of my argument do you disagree with?
          3) What are your reasons to support your disagreement?

          • -+

            “Irre­spon­si­ble jour­nal­ism” is used as a com­mon excuse for cen­sor­ship and pro­pa­ganda.

            When have I ever advocated the fact that the media should be regulated or censored?

            And who is to decide? I brought up this prob­lem right from the begin­ning and we’ve come full circle.

            Who is to decide what? That a particular article or person lies? A simple google search could do that.

            “No, you’re con­fus­ing the sim­plic­ity of chal­leng­ing some­thing you have evi­dence as being a lie ver­sus the lie being obvi­ous enough for X amount of peo­ple to rec­og­nize it as such.”

            Which brings us to exactly what I said earlier – that the media exploits misconceptions about China by publishing lies. What you are saying is – something being a lie doesn’t mean that X number of people will recognize it as a lie – which amounts to exactly what I said earlier, that hardly anyone knows the truth, and the media exploits this ignorance.

            truth can be subjective.

            Do explain to me how, in the specific context of, say, Chinese foreign policy and the media’s reporting of it (or any other topic related to China’s rise that you prefer) the truth is subjective.
            The truth can be subjective when one chooses to generalize. However, when one argues in the context of a specific framework, the truth is the truth, regardless of whose viewpoint who consider. In this case, the framework based on which I am choosing to argue, is that when a journalist or analyst makes a claim about the Chinese government, he/she should have facts or evidence to back it up. Is that too much to ask?

            —-


            Next, frankly, I don’t really under­stand what you’re try­ing to say in your fourth para­graph…I’d rather not try respond­ing until I have a clearer idea of what you’re arguing.
            ……….
            …what do you want me to say in response to that?
            ………..
            ….which gen­er­al­iza­tion are you refer­ring to and how does it progress this discussion?
            …………
            What are you talk­ing about?
            ………….
            To be hon­est, I have no idea what you’re argu­ing….
            ………….

            What’s my argu­ment?
            What part of my argu­ment do you dis­agree with?
            What are your rea­sons to sup­port your disagreement?

            What you are trying to do here is in fact nothing new, and I’ve seen you do it before. This is a very old tactic, and generally works out in the following steps:
            1) Repeatedly stating that one is not understanding what the other is saying
            2) asking generalised questions
            3) asking questions which have already been answered
            4) Repeatedly stating something which everyone agrees with in general

            All this serving to create the impression that the other person is actually saying something which is not understandable. While the fact is, it is understandable by all others and written in plain english, its just that (I think) this particular person doesn’t want to understand it, or, what is more likely, doesn’t want to respond to it.

            As I said at HH, from your tone it is clear that you believe that this problem is unsolvable and that it is in human nature to lie and be biased. I agree with the later, and have never said otherwise (in fact, no one has. You are again and again bringing up a point which everyone agrees with). The point is that it is also in human nature to aim for the truth, as Dewang correctly pointed out there. But the question is – does the media really WANT to aim higher and publish the truth?

          • -+

            Maitreya,

            I’m not trying to be mean. I just don’t understand your hostility towards what I’ve said and, namely, why you feel my argument is generally true but also not.

            When have I ever advo­cated the fact that the media should be reg­u­lated or censored?

            I was pointing out the inherent weakness of that form of statement, and doing so is entirely in line with my response to DeWang that you seem to be ardently challenging: that the difficulty with his and Allen’s suggestion that journalism/media/information be licensed and regulated has pitfalls of its own.

            Who is to decide what? That a par­tic­u­lar arti­cle or per­son lies? A sim­ple google search could do that.

            Who decides what is the truth. So Google decides? Google search is an algorithm of relevance (proxied by popularity), not of truth. What are you going to do when the first result on Google, or the first 10 pages of result support a side you do not agree with you as being “the truth”?

            Which brings us to exactly what I said ear­lier – that the media exploits mis­con­cep­tions about China by pub­lish­ing lies. What you are say­ing is – some­thing being a lie doesn’t mean that X num­ber of peo­ple will rec­og­nize it as a lie – which amounts to exactly what I said ear­lier, that hardly any­one knows the truth, and the media exploits this ignorance.

            No, remember, I was addressing this: “It is point b) which deserves the most atten­tion. But sadly, most blogs only focus on a),

            I’m not sure why you think point b) deserves the most attention, or why you think most blogs only focus on a). As I already responded, I think there’s plenty of attention dedicated to both. I went on to suggest a possible reason you might get the impression that a) gets more attention when b) should. That suggestion was that a) is harder to prove and thus engenders greater contentious discourse whereas b) is often easier to prove and present. In other words, I think the disparity you see in the amount of attention dedicated to both may be because it is often easier to prove a lie than it is to prove a bias. If this suggestion doesn’t make sense to you as a response for why I think you feel there is not enough attention on b), then too bad for me. It was just me offering a possible reason.

            Now, if that is cleared up, let me respond to a contradiction or a weakness in your contention. If hardly anyone knows the truth, just how useful will Google be as a resource of truth when it indexes and returns results based upon popularity? The truth would only stand out if a lot of people know and publish the truth. If they don’t? Then the truth remains obscured, hidden, buried. Google itself depends on people’s ability to promote and persuade others of their opinions, their “truths”. The more people that are persuaded, the higher up in the search rankings that result will be.

            Do explain to me how, in the spe­cific con­text of, say, Chi­nese for­eign pol­icy and the media’s report­ing of it (or any other topic related to China’s rise that you pre­fer) the truth is sub­jec­tive.

            Uh, okay, how about the implications of a stronger China? Is a stronger China a benefit or a threat? To whom? Why? What is the truth? There is none, but there are different interests being affected by it. There is only interpretation. Interpretation inherently makes something and someone’s understanding of it subjective. Is there an objective truth to China’s foreign policy? I don’t think so. There is what China intends to do with it, and there are other people’s reactions to what they think China intends to do with it. Until we can read people’s minds and people always live up to exactly what they intend, there is no objective truth. Hell, even then, there isn’t.

            Will Google tell me what the objective truth is about China’s foreign policy?

            The truth can be sub­jec­tive when one chooses to gen­er­al­ize. How­ever, when one argues in the con­text of a spe­cific frame­work, the truth is the truth, regard­less of whose view­point who con­sider. In this case, the frame­work based on which I am choos­ing to argue, is that when a jour­nal­ist or ana­lyst makes a claim about the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment, he/she should have facts or evi­dence to back it up. Is that too much to ask?

            For the most part, I do think journalists and analysts do offer facts and evidence and rationale for their viewpoints. The thing is that it isn’t difficult to question all of those with competing “facts and evidence and rationale” because they all exist.

            Let’s say China does naval exercises in the South China Sea. Is it or isn’t it? Let’s say it is. Okay, so what does it mean? Someone says its just a regular exercise they do, nothing more, nothing less. Others say it is a specific response to American sub activity in the area, a response to a perceived threat. Others say it is meant to establish dominance over a contested territory. What is the truth? Who do we believe? You believe whoever persuades you. Your truth is whoever persuades you.

            What you are try­ing to do here is in fact noth­ing new, and I’ve seen you do it before. This is a very old tac­tic, and gen­er­ally works out in the fol­low­ing steps:

            All this serv­ing to cre­ate the impres­sion that the other per­son is actu­ally say­ing some­thing which is not under­stand­able. While the fact is, it is under­stand­able by all oth­ers and writ­ten in plain eng­lish, its just that (I think) this par­tic­u­lar per­son doesn’t want to under­stand it, or, what is more likely, doesn’t want to respond to it.

            Dude…forget it, I guess that ends this conversation.

  15. lolz

    -+

    I have written this many times already, but most people like to read and extract information from the media which support their own already formed ideology. The stronger people feel about certain things, the stronger the confirmation bias. I don’t think reporters are excluded from this, but more importantly since the media’s survival depends on the audience, if the audience WANTS to only read about China’s short-comings because it makes them feel about themselves, then that’s what the media will give them even if the reporters themselves want to be “fair”.

  16. Mike

    -+

    I think Dewang and others need to be more objective about bias. He’s slowly biased againts biases. The example he used in his original argument with Sow is a perfect example… per-capita metrics are left out, so it’s biased? Aren’t there a ton of other metrics, ratios and ways of comparing the data that aren’t being layed out? Can’t we assume if people can’t realize the per-capita figure is important on their own, even though it’s not presented, can’t we assume the information is going to need to be alot more in depth all around in order to reach them? The per capita should be mentioned but just shows poor reporting rather than bias.

  17. -+

    My challenge: find the bias, distortion, or lies within this piece –

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-11139607

    • lolz

      -+

      FORAP,

      I am not sure what you are trying to prove here by posting a single link from BBC on a non-controversial topic. Using your method I can also find some neutral article from FOXNEWS and then “prove” that FOXNEWS is not biased eithter. Speaking of FOXNEWS, the way you guys are defending the Western Media is exactly the way FOXNEWS defends its biased coverage: Because the other side is biased, therefore we are not biased. I can also say that because FOXNEWS’s business section was apolitical today when it reported on the economic downshift it therefore isn’t biased at all. The reality is that FOXNEWS is biased on certain political matters and not in say, in sports and science reporting. And yes when FOXNEWS “mistakenly” labeled the gay disgraced Mick Foley a “FL Democrat”, people assumed that FOXNEWS did it on purpose.

      By the same token, the strongest condemnations from China regarding biased Western coverage have to do with slanted coverage of the developments in Tibet.

      You have been asking for “evidence” and then would say that dozens of mistakes which anti-CNN gang caught were “editing mistakes which happens all the time”. If that’s the case, why did we find less of such “editing mistakes” happening in the Western media’s coverage of Uighur riot a year later?

      The “editing mistakes” regarding pictures/captions are only the tip of the iceberg. The anti-CNN people don’t understand English all that well so they can’t detect the more nuanced bias in Tibet reporting from the Western media. Simple questions: Why does the western media often use the word “Bloody Crackdown” when talking about riots in Tibet, while not using this term to describe the “peace keeping efforts” which the US/Brits employed in Iraq which resulted in far more death of civilians? Why aren’t the militant Tibetans/Uighurs called “Insurgents”?
      The list can go on.

      • Jones

        -+

        “Because the other side is biased, therefore we are not biased.”

        Haha, what was it you said in your response to my post over on the other article? Didn’t it have to do with something about you feeling it ironic that an American mentions the nationalism in some Chinese responses to the bus tragedy when there is nationalism in America over Muslims (that’s a religion, by the way, not a nation)? Haha, so, I get it…it’s cool to use non-sequitur whenever you’re being the glorious motherland defender, yet if FOARP or anyone else uses it, then it’s some kind of party foul?

        Bias Blind-Spot. Lolz has it.

        • lolz

          -+

          Jones I am not sure how you get to be an English teacher but even as someone whose first language isn’t English, I can confidently say that Jones your reading comprehension sucks.

          Here is what I wrote :
          “Speak­ing of FOXNEWS, the way you guys are defend­ing the West­ern Media is exactly the way FOXNEWS defends its biased cov­er­age: Because the other side is biased, there­fore we are not biased.”

          You see that colon which I used in between my sentence? Are you aware of the usage of colon in the English language? In this case, the clause after the colon is used to provide an explanation for the clause before. So if you put the whole sentence together it should mean something like, “the standard FOXNEWS defense is to say that other medias are biased towards liberals, and therefore FOXNEWS is not biased and balanced.”

          I honestly feel bad for the kids who you taught English to :(

          • Jones

            -+

            “Jones I am not sure how you get to be an English teacher but even as some one…” blah blah

            ::yawn:: weren’t you bawling earlier about KT using personal attacks? Stop being a tool.

            I love this, though. I point out that you’re being exactly like what you explain Fox News and “you guys” (FOARP and I, and maybe KT…right?), and all you can do is say that my reading comprehension sucks? Then some filler text about colons. Did you not even actually read the response or are you that desperate that you purposefully acted too ignorant to realize the reasoning behind quoting that certain part? Why do you still try to spin it when you’re so terrible at it?

            The point was what I said at the end. It was like spelling it out for you in big bubble letters with bright red crayons, yet you still didn’t get it.

          • lolz

            -+

            “::yawn:: weren’t you bawl­ing ear­lier about KT using per­sonal attacks? Stop being a tool.”

            Actually I am happy with personal attacks. Because you guys started this first I have no problems holding myself back, though I have to admit that I am still holding myself back when arguing with you because its’ actually quite shameful to argue with the intellectually challenged :)

            “Did you not even actu­ally read the response or are you that des­per­ate that you pur­pose­fully acted too igno­rant to real­ize the rea­son­ing behind quot­ing that cer­tain part?”

            Jones, a simple question: Did you or did you not use non-sequitur in a recent comment? Yes or No? Since you have been ignoring this question on a repeated basis, let me answer this for you and the answer is YES!

            Speaking of ignoring the points in responses, did you touch any of the points which I made to FORAP in my post, or are you only interested in prolonging your thread-jacking, stalking, and flaming activities just because I called out you being a hypocrite in a different post? Why don’t you take your own advice about cooling off a bit?

          • Jones

            -+

            “Jones, a simple question: Did you or did you not use non-sequitur in a recent comment?”

            lolz, you’re obviously not reading anything. No I did not.
            I posted the response to this question, I think it’s the second time I responded, at the end of the other comment you replied to. I know you saw it, it’s just that in order for you to try to be that snarky, humorous fellow you try to make yourself out to be, you have to choose to not see it.

            “…called out you being a hypocrite in a different post?”
            Haha, lolz, it took an entire second to catch a glimpse of you being a hypocrite. You keep trying to spin this lolz. Why not just give an honest answer to anything at all?

          • Lolz

            -+

            Whatever, “But but American Muslims get treated so much better than in other countries” jones. Red herring is definitely not your game huh?

            Arguing with with you is described by the Chinese proverb 对牛弹琴。

          • Jones

            -+

            Haha lolz, I knew you’d be back. Predictable as usual.

        • lolz

          -+

          Before I forget:

          “I get it…it’s cool to use non-sequitur when­ever you’re being the glo­ri­ous moth­er­land defender, yet if FOARP or any­one else uses it, then it’s some kind of party foul?”

          Clearly you Jones you think this way. Isn’t this the reason why when I criticized American nationalism you brought up the Europeans?

          Don’t worry Jones, I pretty much doubt more than 3 or 4 people are still reading this thread anyway. Why don’t you just admit that you are an American defender and enjoy using non-sequitur as much as anybody else? :) Living in denial isn’t good for anyone you know.

          • Jones

            -+

            “Don’t worry Jones, I pretty much doubt more than 3 or 4 people are still reading this thread anyway. Why don’t you just admit that you are an American defender and enjoy using non-sequitur as much as any body else? :) Living in denial isn’t good for any one you know.”

            Already explained the other parts in the previous response.

            American defender? I was talking about Chinese and the Philippines. It was you that responded, crying about some injustice just because I saw the obvious overreactions on the internet from some of the commentators on both sides. Don’t get confused, now.

      • -+

        1)

        “Why aren’t the mil­i­tant Tibetans/Uighurs called “Insur­gents”?”

        New York Times good enough for you?

        http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/19/world/asia/19xinjiang.html

        2)

        “peace keep­ing efforts”

        I can’t think of even one article which has called them such, nor did the first 50 results on Google turn anything up. Most talk about counter-insurgency. However, I did find this from CCP Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Jiang Yu in answer to a question concerning Iraq and Afghanistan:

        “China has been committed to pushing forward the peace process of the relevant countries and helping Afghanistan and Iraq to realize stability and economic reconstruction.

        It seems that, according to Jiang Yu at least, what is occurring in Iraq and Afghanistan is a “peace process”.

        3)

        “Why does the west­ern media often use the word …. Crack­down … when talk­ing about riots in Tibet, while not using this term to describe … Iraq which resulted in far more death of civil­ians?”

        CNN good enough?

        http://edition.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/meast/03/14/iraq.main/index.html

        You see, your objections seem to be centred almost entirely around wording (i.e., not positive wording) rather than anything substantial.

        As for the BBC piece, in what way exactly is discrimination against HIV sufferers, and human rights abuses in general in China, a “a non-controversial topic”? If it was non-controversial, then why did it make the front page of the BBC website? If the “bias” you talk about is so pervasive, how come you can’t find it? Tell you what, go to the BBC website right now and tell me if you can find any article in which you can identify actual “anti-China” bias, and point that bias out for us.

        I dare you.

        I double-dare you.

        • tc

          -+

          I find the following questions very funny …
          “New York Times good enough for you?”
          “CNN good enough?”

          And this very idiotic …
          “Tell you what, go to the BBC web­site right now and tell me if you can find any arti­cle in which you can iden­tify actual “anti-China” bias, and point that bias out for us.”

        • lolz

          -+

          “New York Times good enough for you?

          http://​www​.nytimes​.com/​2​0​0​8​/​1​0​/​1​9​/​w​o​r​l​d​/​a​s​i​a​/​1​9​x​i​n​j​i​a​n​g​.​h​tml

          FORAP, I have already written my thoughts on finding exceptions to rule, a technique which you used to address points 1 and 3. If I go to NYT’s Uighur section (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/subjects/u/uighurs_chinese_ethnic_group/index.html?scp=1&sq=Uighur%20riot&st=cse) and read the highlighted articles I won’t find many articles which used the term insurgency or find anything critical on the Uighurs at all. Edward Wong is arguably NYT’s best reporter on the Uighurs at the moment, and he only used the term “insurgency” once on the report that Norway caught some Al Qaeda affliated Chinese Uighur planning to blow something up.

          I have also written that I think the coverage of the Uighur Riot was much better than the coverage of the Tibetan issues. I made the case that it was only after the many Chinese complained about Western MSM’s anti-China bias, that the Western MSM gotten much more accurate when writing about controversies in China. I still feel strongly about this.

          ” “peace keep­ing efforts”

          I can’t think of even one arti­cle which has called them such, nor did the first 50 results on Google turn any­thing up. Most talk about counter-insurgency.”

          I am not sure how do you google exactly, but if you google for terms such as “Fallujah Peacekeeping” you can easily find many articles which refer to the forces in Iraq as “peacekeeping force” such as this one (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A54342-2004Jun19.html).

          Are you going to tell me that is that Iraq/Afghanistan reporting is balanced too? How is it that you always hear about offensives which killed a whole bunch of “insurgents” along with the “collaterals” but you rarely ever read an interview from the families of these “collaterals”? I will get to point about selective coverage later.

          “You see, your objec­tions seem to be cen­tred almost entirely around word­ing (i.e., not pos­i­tive word­ing) rather than any­thing substantial.”

          Yes, I do think that wording is an extremely important element in terms of inserting bias into articles, and I am not the only one who thinks this way. Many Jewish media watchdogs complained about the usage of the word “suicide bomber” instead of “terrorist” while Muslims had complained about the usage of the word “Islamist” preferring the word “fundamentalist” instead. I have complained many times about the Western media never using the word “Nationalist” when describing Free Tibetan/Taiwan organizations although the description would fit them well.

          My other big complaint have to do with selective coverage. When the Media watchdogs attack FOXNEWS they often site how the news channels features a lot more air time for Conservatives to make their points than liberals. The same would go for western media ESPECIALLY regarding Tibet. You read about all sorts of articles where Dalai Lama accuses Chinese government to force Han migration and engaging in “cultural genocide” but rarely do I ever see any articles talking about WHY hans from other regions of China move to Tibet.

          “in what way exactly is dis­crim­i­na­tion against HIV suf­fer­ers, and human rights abuses in gen­eral in China, a “a non-controversial topic”

          In that most people don’t care? You have Tibetan activists lined up in streets of Europe to beat a paralyzed Chinese lady. How many people will protest against discrimination against AIDS patients in China?

          “Tell you what, go to the BBC web­site right now and tell me if you can find any arti­cle in which you can iden­tify actual “anti-China” bias, and point that bias out for us.”

          First of all, given all of the anti-China protests which BBC loves to cover, when over 1000 Chinese students protested against BBC’ anti-China bias on Apr19, 2008. That would make a pretty big protest, but how come I can’t find the coverage of that at all on BBC’s website? Sure, some of the BBC guys wrote about it on their blogs afterwards but there wasn’t any official coverage of the protests which went on for a week. Isn’t it BBC’s responsibility to report these things? Often it’s what NOT is being covered which constitute bias.

          You can always just google “bbc anti-china bias”. Never mind the biased reporting on Tibet (see my point about selective reporting) or the 97 Hong Kong handover, you can read about what some non-Chinese thoughts about BBC’s anti-China rants on topics such as global warming: “http://greatest-blog.com/is-the-bbc-anti-china-278/”
          or this ” or Chinese businesses in Africa “http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OBtr5ajk0tQ”

          • -+

            @Lolz – The point is that you said that they do not use these terms – the fact is that they do, and actually quite often.

            “I still feel strongly about this.”

            Obviously. But are you correct in doing so? Feelings are not a substitute for facts – as much as some in the Anti-CNN crowd seem to think they are.

            “you rarely ever read an inter­view from the fam­i­lies of these “col­lat­er­als”?”

            Except that you do, quite often see these kinds of interviews. See here for an example : http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/05/world/asia/05afghan.html . The only way in which you might only “rarely” read such stories would be if you only “rarely” read the news.

            “The same would go for west­ern media ESPECIALLY regard­ing Tibet”

            The problem is that Chinese government officials rarely give interviews, and when they do will often not allow their names to be used or for the interview to go on the record, and prefer publicly to spout the party line. Pro-Tibet organisations, on the other hand, are happy to give interviews.

            “You have Tibetan activists lined up in streets of Europe to beat a par­a­lyzed Chi­nese lady.”

            Yeah, right. Meanwhile, back in the real world, human rights organisations actually concentrate mostly in the fields of disadvantaged groups and political prisoners.

            “Often it’s what NOT is being cov­ered which con­sti­tute bias.”

            So what “wasn’t covered” back in April, 2008 – except in blogs, so as you say yourself, it was covered – is, in your view, evidence of systematic bias? If this systematic bias exists, how come you cannot find any evidence of it in today’s reporting?

            “You can always just google “bbc anti-china bias”. “

            But this would only give me the websites which have cherry picked and distorted the BBC’s reporting in order to give a picture of the BBC’s reporting which is itself biased. If this bias exists, shouldn’t I be able to find it in the original source? If it is there, why can’t you find it?

            My dare stands.

  18. -+

    @Kai

    …generally true but also not?” Really, I don’t think you actually understand, or want to understand, what I am trying to imply here.

    1. Google searches indeed depend on popularity. However, this is in fact something which comes full circle, and works out in the following way:

    a) Initially, google will show up only those searches which represent the truth i.e. research reports, whitepapers, conferences, seminars etc.
    b) However, due to reasons which I’ve already explained, the media will publish the exact opposite (or in some cases, twist the truth).
    c) This will in turn ensure that those results (i.e. the media reports) become more popular, and appear higher in google.
    d) And then later, as you rightly said, the truth will get buried.

    Now what I said was that “a simple google search would prove that”. Not only the higher results, but results which can actually be trusted.

    “For the most part, I do think jour­nal­ists and ana­lysts do offer facts and evi­dence and ratio­nale for their view­points.”

    That is their job. That is what they are supposed to do. That is what they get paid for. Even if they don’t actually offer evidence, they can atleast print something for which evidence exists. It is when they start doing the opposite that the problem arises. Like that Guardian correspondent who claimed 13 women had been found during the Sri Lankan civil war with their throats cut and then confessed that his source was unreliable. Or those news stories which claim that Anna Chapman was charged with “spying” for Russia. Or when Rebiya Kadeer claimed that 10,000 Uighurs disappeared during the july riots, and that the international media actually considers it important enough to report. Or when media reports say that China “persuaded” google to stay back. Or when The Times of India (the most read english daily in India), a week after Google apologized to Chinese authors, reported that google had “refused” to accept demands to apologize. Or when an Indian MP (yes, even they do it) claimed in parliament that China was a source of counterfeit currency and that it is supporting Maoists, without offering any evidence for it. Or when the NYT claimed that China has 7000-11000 troops in PoK, again, without citing any evidence.

    The Indian media says that China has resolved all of its land border disputes by force or “one-sided logic”, and eminent experts say that after wresting “substantial territorial concessions” from other countries, China is trying to do the same with India. Now of course, such media reports will often rank higher in google, but if one is actually careful to go past these media reports, one will realize what the truth is entirely different. The media deliberately, by a combination of lies and selective evidence presentation, will paint a picture of China being “aggressive”. And the same thing is happening in the south China sea and over Taiwan.

    Another example – people are always ready to proclaim that China supplied Pakistan with nuclear technology “illegally”. However, what will not appear in direct and higher results in google searches is the fact that during that time, China had not signed the NPT. Hence, those arms transfers were perfectly legal, which is exactly what the Chinese foreign ministry said during the time.

    Yet another example – the allegation that China claims “Indian territory”. Almost all newspapers – from The Huffington Post to The Economist to the New York Times (heck, even the Indian government) – have made that accusation. However, what they choose to ignore is that that India CLAIMS that territory. It just has a claim on it and currently administers it. In just the same way that another piece of disputed territory is controlled by China and claimed by India. While India refers to Arunachal Pradesh as an ‘integral part of India’, China refers to it as ‘disputed territory’, which is the correct term for it. Thereby indicating that although China has a claim on that territory, it recognizes and respects the fact that India also has a claim on it.

    And there are scores and scores of such examples.

    The problem starts arising when one starts to generalize instead of debating on specifics, like you generalised my statement about google searches. Of course everyone knows that google “returns results based upon pop­u­lar­ity”. However, it is through google that the truth can ALSO be found, one just needs to know where to look. Hence my statement that a google search can prove tons of media reports and articles wrong. If one is not prepared to go beyond the “first 10 pages of result”, then one will not reach anywhere. However, the damning thing is that there are many topics which the media lies about and which actually appear within the first 10 searches!

    2.

    “…how about the impli­ca­tions of a stronger China? Is a stronger China a ben­e­fit or a threat? To whom? Why? What is the truth?

    You see, that is the difference between you and me. You are simply content with asking questions. I, on the other hand, try to find ANSWERS to those questions. I have asserted multiple times, that there is absolutely no aspect of Chinese foreign policy that can lead one to the conclusion that China is a violent nation bent on world supremacy. However, if one remembers that even something as harmless (to other countries) as hosting the Olympics can be interpreted as a step towards “world domination”, then one can really understand how the media works.

    3.

    “There is only inter­pre­ta­tion. Inter­pre­ta­tion inher­ently makes some­thing and someone’s under­stand­ing of it sub­jec­tive.”

    Which is where my point about staying within a framework comes in. There are many interpretations, but, within the framework which we have chosen to be in, only one interpretation which we should be primarily concerned with. Which is where practicality (and common sense) comes in.
    The sun has risen every day, and hence it will also rise tomorrow – Or will it?. That is the difference between a practical approach and one which believes in only general theory.
    There are some practical axioms which are taken for granted to be true WITHIN A PARTICULAR FRAMEWORK.
    For example, Einstein proved that Euclidean space is a good enough approximation where the gravitational field is not stronger than a particular threshold. The earth’s field is within that threshold, and hence on the earth, Euclidean geometry is applicable. Hence the importance of realizing the framework which we are in, before generalizing the argument. Which is the reason why, for all practical purposes, Euclidean geometry is used for everything, from drawing two parallel lines to building bridges (on earth, that is :-)).
    Now, one can argue that Euclidean geometry is “subjective”, but for all PRACTICAL PURPOSES on earth, is it really?
    According to your logic, a terrorist will also be justified in killing innocents based on his “interpretation” of a particular religion. It is “his truth” that such killing is justified. If there is no objective truth as you say, and “only interpretation”, then this killing should be justified too. However, if we argue from within the framework that, innocents should not be killed under any circumstances (obviously), then the terrorist’s “truth” is in fact not true. But if we are to argue from the terrorist’s point of view/framework, i.e. his frame of mind, then we realise that he is so brainwashed that he is utterly convinced that the killing is justified, which is in fact a false interpretation of his religion.
    Hence, I don’t agree with you that there is “only” interpretation. There is a right interpretation, and there is a wrong interpretation. (Of course, all of this staying within a particular framework or predefined set of rules.)

    4.

    “I was point­ing out the inher­ent weak­ness of that form of state­ment, and doing so is entirely in line with my response to DeWang that you seem to be ardently chal­leng­ing: that the dif­fi­culty with his and Allen’s sug­ges­tion that journalism/media/information be licensed and reg­u­lated has pit­falls of its own.”

    In that case, as I suspected, you are confusing or mixing DeWang’s or Allen’s comments with mine. I am not “ardently challenging” your response to Dewang, nor do I see the relevance of your response to person A being “entirely in line” with person B, when the two comments (to which you are responding) are not exactly the same. I have, neither at this thread, nor at HH, touched on the issue of media censorship or regulation, which I believe is a different topic altogether.

    5.

    “it is often eas­ier to prove a lie than it is to prove a bias”

    Again this brings me to my earlier statement – a bias, regardless of whether it can be proved or not – is not actionable. If the media wants to report only those facts which will grab attention and increase their profits, they are free to do so, and nobody can stop them. I have repeated this multiple times – a lie is actionable and the standard excuse of “freedom of press/media” cannot be used to defend it.
    Selective reporting (my point b) ) gets more attention because one can simply engage in a generalized rhetoric and refrain from debating on specifics, which I think is much easier than researching the truth and proving a lie, especially about Chinese foreign policy.

    6. As for the first apart of your comment, I do not think that you are being “mean”. Its just that I get the impression that you are trying to justify media bias and lies by saying that “the truth is subjective” or that that “there is “no ‘objective fairness”" or that there is “no objective truth, only interpretation” and that it is human nature. (you are again and again repeating the same things which everyone knows and no one is arguing against). For that matter, it is also human nature to kill, and humans have been doing it from the very beginning. Does that mean that every killer or murderer is justified in doing so?

    • -+

      Maitreya,

      You really should give me the benefit of doubt by interpreting my questions as me wanting to understand instead of me having some ulterior motive to make you appear to not be understandable. Am I that capable of persuading others to suddenly not understand your “plain English”?

      1a. Not true, and I don’t know why you assume that. Google’s algorithms are complex, and a guarded secret, but they’re premised upon keyword matches and relevance derived from popularity (amount of links as proxy for authority and relevance). Google does allow for human editing of results but most of it is done algorithmically. I don’t know why you believe Google is an arbiter of “truth” or will first show “searches that represent the truth”. This has no basis in reality.

      1b. I’m not sure why you assume this either. Why do you assume the media will publish the exact opposite or twist the truth? Or why do you assume this is what some individuals or organizations in “the media” could do after 1a?

      1c. Yes, reports by mainstream media that are accorded higher authority, tend to rank higher than sources of lesser authority in Google. I’ve already commented on the influence of the media and how that influence can be dangerous. Yes, the media can influence people whether they are “right” or “wrong”, whether they have the “truth” or they “don’t”.

      1d. I’ve addressed this before as well. This is why I emphasize the importance of competition in the marketplace of ideas. “Google itself depends on people’s abil­ity to pro­mote and per­suade oth­ers of their opin­ions, their “truths”. The more peo­ple that are per­suaded, the higher up in the search rank­ings that result will be.” One media organization may publish X about one issue (and you think X is a lie) but there are other media organizations who can publish Y about that issue, and so on. Do you believe all media organizations are in cahoots with each other to publish lies and twist the truth? Is there a conspiracy? Let’s assume there is, what can be done about it? I propose to people to organize themselves and promote their Z viewpoint about that issue, win the people over, show the people how those media organizations are wrong. Become your own media organization.

      Now what I said was that “a sim­ple google search would prove that”. Not only the higher results, but results which can actu­ally be trusted.

      I interpreted your previous comment about “a simple google search would prove that” as proving “that a particular article or person lies”. I don’t see how it, a simple google search, does. A is only a lie or falsehood if you believe in B and have B to compare to A. Google search will provide you with A, B, C, even up to Z (ranked roughly according to authority derived by popularity and relevance) but how are you supposed to know which one is “the truth”? Google won’t tell me which one is the truth, which is what I was asking with “who is to decide?”

      I asked you, who decides what is true and what is a lie. Your answer seemed to be “Google”. I expressed incredulity, and now you’re trying to tell me how results by authoritative media can bury results by less authoritative sources. I know that, but I don’t know why you seemed to suggest Google as the decider or arbiter of truth.

      That is their job. That is what they are sup­posed to do. That is what they get paid for. Even if they don’t actu­ally offer evi­dence, they can atleast print some­thing for which evi­dence exists. It is when they start doing the oppo­site that the prob­lem arises. Like that Guardian cor­re­spon­dent who claimed 13 women had been found dur­ing the Sri Lankan civil war with their throats cut and then con­fessed that his source was unre­li­able. Or those news sto­ries which claim that Anna Chap­man was charged with “spy­ing” for Rus­sia. Or when [...] with­out cit­ing any evidence.

      You mean news reporting is subject to appeal to authority fallacies (and others)? There’s a difference between “news” and “fact” or “history”. News is first and foremost about information, then about fact. Oh, certainly, news media organizations promote themselves as reporting facts, but that’s marketing. The more they market themselves as reporting facts, the more they risk losing credibility and authority when they are shown not to be doing so. Obviously, many news media organizations have already lost credibility and authority in your eyes. Unfortunately for you, they haven’t quite yet in other people’s eyes. Why is that? Because these media organizations have a magical hold on people? Because people aren’t as intelligent as you? Because these organizations get things right more than wrong, or that their reporting is usually adequate and only occasionally wrong? Because people know that mistakes happen or that people do bad things but they won’t throw the baby out with the bathwater?

      Now of course, such media reports will often rank higher in google, but if one is actu­ally care­ful to go past these media reports, one will real­ize what the truth is entirely dif­fer­ent. The media delib­er­ately, by a com­bi­na­tion of lies and selec­tive evi­dence pre­sen­ta­tion, will paint a pic­ture of China being “aggres­sive”.

      Because that’s the “truth” for apparently a lot of people who haven’t yet been convinced of the “truth” as you see it. It’s subjective. Your truth is not very meaningful if you can’t convince others to believe it.

      The prob­lem starts aris­ing when one starts to gen­er­al­ize instead of debat­ing on specifics, like you gen­er­alised my state­ment about google searches.

      Maitreya, you accused me of “generalizing the whole matter”. I interpreted “the whole matter” as this entire topic of Western media bias. Did you mean “a) selective reporting” or what? If you meant a), I not sure I see what generalization I made that you disagree with. I generalized that a) may get more discussion than b) does because a) is harder to prove than b) and is thus more contentious, as a suggestion to you for why you may think a) gets more attention than b). What specifics should I have discussed? How is my generalization not appropriate for the idea, the suggestions, I wanted to convey to you? How are your specifics disproving the validity of my generalization?

      How did I generalize your statement of Google searches? I’m willing to accept that you meant something entirely different from what I interpreted but that’s first and foremost a miscommunication or misunderstanding, not a “generalization”. I asked you who decides what is the truth and your response seemed to me to be “Google”.

      Of course every­one knows that google “returns results based upon pop­u­lar­ity”. How­ever, it is through google that the truth can ALSO be found, one just needs to know where to look. Hence my state­ment that a google search can prove tons of media reports and arti­cles wrong. If one is not pre­pared to go beyond the “first 10 pages of result”, then one will not reach any­where. How­ever, the damn­ing thing is that there are many top­ics which the media lies about and which actu­ally appear within the first 10 searches!

      Frankly, that’s just not how I read your response. You clearly believe I did but intentionally misinterpreted you and I stand by my original interpretation as the most likely given how you worded yourself. I’m not interested in debating you to win the hearts of others on this. They can judge for themselves if they care to. Bottom line is that I know viewpoint B, C, D…Z can also be found on Google, but “truth” is subjectively ascribed by the believer of that truth. I again refer to the above statement that your “truth” is not very meaningful if it doesn’t persuade others to believe it.

      Furthermore, you still haven’t answered my initial question: “Who decides the truth”? You answered Google and now you’re saying all you meant was that the truth can also be found on Google, which means you still haven’t answered.

      You see, that is the dif­fer­ence between you and me. You are sim­ply con­tent with ask­ing ques­tions. I, on the other hand, try to find ANSWERS to those ques­tions.

      Whoa, hey, good for you, man. I’m obviously a much lesser being for not trying to find answers to certain questions. Have you considered that maybe after trying, I’ve come to the conclusion that every possible answer I’ve thus far entertained is lacking and thus not really an answer? That perhaps some questions are impossible to answer? That perhaps the answer is that we’re not capable of finding those answers as limited creatures?

      I have asserted mul­ti­ple times, that there is absolutely no aspect of Chi­nese for­eign pol­icy that can lead one to the con­clu­sion that China is a vio­lent nation bent on world supremacy.

      And that’s the way you see things. Not for others apparently.

      I want to say, “that’s the difference between you and me”, that I accept that I have to persuade others of my viewpoints, while you insist on the inherent invalidity of other’s viewpoints. But we know that’s not absolutely true, and hell, that’s a generalization, isn’t it? My point is, you saying such a thing shows me that we fundamentally disagree on the existence of an objective truth. You believe there is one, and that you apparently know many of them while others do not. You also believe that the media knows the objective truth as well, but willfully publishes lies. I don’t believe there is an obvious objective truth and believe that the only truth that ultimately matters for society as a whole is whatever is most persuasive to society as a whole. That does mean that people with alternative truths may find it unpleasant to live in that society. I say to them, “go out and promote your truth then. You’ll get further doing that than whining about others publishing lies. Don’t just whine. Prove, show, persuade.”

      How­ever, if one remem­bers that even some­thing as harm­less (to other coun­tries) as host­ing the Olympics can be inter­preted as a step towards “world dom­i­na­tion”, then one can really under­stand how the media works.

      You do know why some people can think this, right? 1936? I’m not saying those who think this have rationally considered all available evidence, but I’m trying to explain to you how these ideas germinate and how, yes, they can get into the media (though I don’t think much of the media really ran with such an idea).

      Which is where my point about stay­ing within a frame­work comes in. There are many inter­pre­ta­tions, but, within the frame­work which we have cho­sen to be in, only one inter­pre­ta­tion which we should be pri­mar­ily con­cerned with. Which is where prac­ti­cal­ity (and com­mon sense) comes in.

      Framework is subjective too. Common sense is overestimated.

      The sun has risen every day, and hence it will also rise tomor­row – Or will it?. That is the dif­fer­ence between a prac­ti­cal approach and one which believes in only gen­eral the­ory.

      I think you’re conflating, and I don’t think I’m advocating any “general theory” if one wants to label it with such a grandiose title. Perhaps your talk of “practical approach” and “general theory” is too general, too generalized. Can you give me specific examples of each so I can more clearly understand the difference you’re trying to show me?

      I still believe that truth is subjective and the only truth that ultimately matters is that which is the most persuasive. How persuasive it is depends on the efforts of the persuader.

      There are some prac­ti­cal axioms which are taken for granted to be true WITHIN A PARTICULAR FRAMEWORK.

      Right, which is what you are doing. But I’m also saying
      your framework is subjective and not necessarily subscribed to by others, so they are not true for them. For example, you maintain that in your framework, China is not an aggressive nation. What happens when others don’t share that framework?

      Now, one can argue that Euclid­ean geom­e­try is “sub­jec­tive”, but for all PRACTICAL PURPOSES on earth, is it really?

      I fail to be convinced that my position is equivalent to Euclidean geometry. I actually happen to think my position is also quite practical.

      Accord­ing to your logic, a ter­ror­ist will also be jus­ti­fied in killing inno­cents based on his “inter­pre­ta­tion” of a par­tic­u­lar reli­gion. It is “his truth” that such killing is jus­ti­fied. If there is no objec­tive truth as you say, and “only inter­pre­ta­tion”, then this killing should be jus­ti­fied too. How­ever, if we argue from within the frame­work that, inno­cents should not be killed under any cir­cum­stances (obvi­ously), then the terrorist’s “truth” is in fact not true. But if we are to argue from the terrorist’s point of view/framework, i.e. his frame of mind, then we realise that he is so brain­washed that he is utterly con­vinced that the killing is jus­ti­fied, which is in fact a false inter­pre­ta­tion of his reli­gion.

      No, you’re misrepresenting my logic and position. I never “justified” anything, I only sought to explain why certain things happen or are so.

      Hence, I don’t agree with you that there is “only” inter­pre­ta­tion. There is a right inter­pre­ta­tion, and there is a wrong inter­pre­ta­tion. (Of course, all of this stay­ing within a par­tic­u­lar frame­work or pre­de­fined set of rules.)

      Which is subjective. “Right” and “wrong” are determined by social norms, which are “norms” because a majority have been persuaded to subscribe to them. Forget that black is not always black and white is not always white, that’s not my point, my point is that some things are gray even within our existing social norms, gray in the sense that the issue is so complicated that people’s positions are very subjective.

      In that case, as I sus­pected, you are con­fus­ing or mix­ing DeWang’s or Allen’s com­ments with mine. I am not “ardently chal­leng­ing” your response to Dewang, nor do I see the rel­e­vance of your response to per­son A being “entirely in line” with per­son B, when the two com­ments (to which you are respond­ing) are not exactly the same. I have, nei­ther at this thread, nor at HH, touched on the issue of media cen­sor­ship or reg­u­la­tion, which I believe is a dif­fer­ent topic altogether.

      You’re still confusing statement with “form” of statement but whatever. You believe media should aim higher. No disagreement there. Our disagreement seems to be with the existence of an objective truth that you feel the media knows but intentionally ignores. I think that may be the case for some, but I’m not eager to generalize it.

      Again this brings me to my ear­lier state­ment – a bias, regard­less of whether it can be proved or not – is not action­able. If the media wants to report only those facts which will grab atten­tion and increase their prof­its, they are free to do so, and nobody can stop them. I have repeated this mul­ti­ple times – a lie is action­able and the stan­dard excuse of “free­dom of press/media” can­not be used to defend it.

      I don’t see how this is relevant to anything I’ve said.

      Selec­tive report­ing (my point b) ) gets more atten­tion because one can sim­ply engage in a gen­er­al­ized rhetoric and refrain from debat­ing on specifics, which I think is much eas­ier than research­ing the truth and prov­ing a lie, espe­cially about Chi­nese for­eign policy.

      I think selective reporting was your point A, not B. So, correct me if I’m wrong, you’re saying a) gets more attention because its easier for people to argue generally that people are biased than researching and proving a lie, and that’s why people don’t pay much more attention to b) publishing downright lies.

      Hey, I buy that, that sounds entirely plausible to me. I agree it can be easier for people to accuse bias based upon generalized rhetoric (i.e. you’re white, so your racism causes you to feel threatened so you’re predisposed to being biased in your presentation of news involving non-whites), and insofar as the amount of people doing this makes bystanders think there is a lot of attention to it, sure. I just think arguing a) is more contentious and less clear-cut, but you’re saying it is actually opinionated people combined with intellectual laziness. Fine, I see both.

      So are you wishing for more people to stop wasting their time arguing a) and spend more time proving instances of b) by doing research and presenting the “truths”?

      Hey, if so, I’m fine with that too. I just personally feel there’s plenty of both, don’t begrudge those arguing about a), and thought you didn’t know why a) gets more attention so offered you a possible reason I thought of.

      So are we clear on that now? I think it should be evident by now by my calls for people to go persuade others of their truth that I’m all for people researching and challenging what they see “downright lies” in the media.

      6. As for the first apart of your com­ment, I do not think that you are being “mean”. Its just that I get the impres­sion that you are try­ing to jus­tify media bias and lies by say­ing that “the truth is sub­jec­tive” or that that “there is “no ‘objec­tive fair­ness”” or that there is “no objec­tive truth, only inter­pre­ta­tion” and that it is human nature. (you are again and again repeat­ing the same things which every­one knows and no one is argu­ing against). For that mat­ter, it is also human nature to kill, and humans have been doing it from the very begin­ning. Does that mean that every killer or mur­derer is jus­ti­fied in doing so?

      I keep repeating that the truth is subjective because I don’t buy your argument that there is an objective truth, even within frameworks, because frameworks are subjective to me as well. That’s just an added level of complexity that doesn’t change the sum total situation. As for your interpretation of me “justifying” anything, let me clearly just say that I’m not. I don’t think understanding why something occurs or explaining why something occurs should be interpreted as justification but I recognize that you’re not the first person to do that and won’t be the last. I just think understanding something is critical to dealing effectively with it. I think it is critical to understand WHY terrorists can be spurred to do what they do before we can effectively combat terrorism. Arguing so should not mean that I am justifying it.

      • S.K. Cheung

        -++2

        “western media bias” is a favourite term in some quarters, and, based on this thread as well as many other threads on other blogs, elicits no shortage of emotion or opinion. To me, people seem to see “bias” whenever a journalist presents an opinion that is contrary to their own. Such an impression of bias is then generalized not only to other works by the same author, or even to the product of the news organization that employed said author, but to the entire “western media” as a whole. This type of over-generalization seems to be a matter of routine.

        As has been suggested, any such “bias”, even if present, is par for the course, as it is at the discretion of the author/organization, and those who don’t like it can simply take their business elsewhere. One distinction that I think is under-emphasized is that between “news” reporting and “opinion” pieces. In my observation, it seems most accusations of bias are actually hurled against opinion pieces, which I find astounding. I’d suggest that the real shock would be to read a journalist’s opinion piece and not identify bias.

        Bias would not be justifiable in “news” reporting, which should be concerned with a presentation of the “facts”. However, I’m often leery of terms like “facts” and “truth” on China blogs. It seems there’s been a recent discussion about whether “truth” is subjective or objective. To me, it depends. There are mathematical truths (like the 2+2 example), or quantum physics truths (like Einstein’s theories), or all manner of other “scientific truths”. These are testable, observable, and reproducible. In short, these truths certainly seem “objective”. However, when it comes to the topics covered on blogs like this one, any “truths” would seem to fall far short of a scientific threshold. And if the certainty of the truth is in question, so too any accusations of “lies”.

        Now, it is likely “true” that most people on English language blogs don’t have intimate first hand knowledge of China, or India. In that environment, without a background fund of knowledge to serve as a “gold standard”, it becomes potentially easier to be susceptible to things which are not true. In general, i think the less one knows about something, the more discerning and vigilant one has to be in selecting what they will choose to believe. And if the journalist hasn’t provided multi-sourced information, perhaps the reader should first consult multiple sources themselves. At the end of the day, caveat emptor should apply to media just like any other goods or services.

        On that note, and as Kai Pan has also pointed out, red flags are out in force when someone tries to imply exclusive possession of non-scientific “truths”.

      • -+

        I’m glad that we have finally narrowed down our field of debate to a couple of specific points. (and btw, yes I meant point b) not a) in my sentence in bold)

        1. Why I raised point 1. a) was because during that time, the media will not have picked up that story yet; and hence google results will be undiluted. A textbook example of this was seen during the so called “chinese incursions” into arunachal pradesh. After the Dalai Lama’s visit there which China protested, reports about China’s incursions increased substantially. However, BOTH sides incur on each others territory while patrolling when the border is not clearly defined, as was admitted by the Indian government. This had been going on since 1962, but the media only reported it because anti-China sentiment increased after the opposition to the Dalai Lama’s visit.

        2.

        I don’t think under­stand­ing why some­thing occurs or explain­ing why some­thing occurs should be inter­preted as jus­ti­fi­ca­tion but I rec­og­nize that you’re not the first per­son to do that and won’t be the last.

        But that’s my point. Everyone knows why the media lies! To increase their profits. To expound sensationalism. To increase readership. Everyone knows why terrorists kill in the name of religion! Because they are brainwashed. The very fact that you feel the need to express these common-sense reasons seems to me that you are a) trying to justify them and/or b) assuming that other people don’t know them. If “Arguing so” doesn’t mean that you are justifying it, then why are you “arguing so”? Who asked you about this point? How does this obvious point add to the discussion? You are answering a question which nobody is asking.

        3. I do not agree with you that in this particular case, common sense is “overrated”. And we can agree to disagree on that.

        4.

        “Who decides the truth”? You answered Google and now you’re say­ing all you meant was that the truth can also be found on Google, which means you still haven’t answered.”

        …but how are you sup­posed to know which one is “the truth”?

        “Right” and “wrong” are deter­mined by social norms, which are “norms” because a major­ity have been per­suaded to sub­scribe to them

        The truth is sub­jec­tive because I don’t buy your argu­ment that there is an objec­tive truth, even within frame­works, because frame­works are sub­jec­tive to me as well.

        I don’t see how I haven’t answered. Google searches show up many things. All of them are not believable. One should know which search result to believe and which not to.

        Frameworks are subjective too. But what if one subscribes to them, and then yet breaks those same rules?

        Here is how it works:
        When a journalist reports something, he/she will most certainly not be an expert in the topic. Hence, he/she will try to google search for sources and evidence. Now, consciously or subconsciously, this journalist will only cite those facts which support his/her point of view. This, coupled with political usage of the English language and ambiguous terminology, will create the exact opposite impression of what the truth is. I have given tons of examples of this in my earlier comment, but since they were not sufficient for you, here is yet another one:

        J. Mohan Malik, a known and eminent ‘expert’ in Asian Geopolitics and Proliferation, says, “Having wrested substantial territorial concessions from Russia, Vietnam, and Tajikistan in their land border disputes with China, Beijing is now expecting the same from India.”

        Now note that he is not saying what those “substantial territorial concessions” actually were, and actually how much territory was involved. This “expert” has been so widely quoted in the media that I’ve lost count. Now, here is the total disputed territory which China received as part of its border negotiations with each of these three countries:

        Russia – 50%
        Vietnam – 50%
        Tajikistan – 4%

        Now tell me, do these figures seem “substantial” to you? These are publicly available figures. They are not “subjective”. They are completely objective. My hunch is that he himself knows the truth, but is deliberately trying to be misleading. And the media picks all this up; and will most certainly not report the actual boundary figures.

        I repeat – the framework here which I am choosing to be in is that journalists should VERIFY what they print. Is that a “subjective” framework? According to your logic, there should be no laws at all then, simply because those laws/frameworks will be subjective too.
        However, the question is – is there a “subjective” framework which you can choose to live with? The framework of journalism is that journalists will not be misleading and will not publish lies. Does that seem to you to be way too much to ask? Does that seem like a very “subjective” framework to you? The entire crux of the matter is, that the media is hypocritically breaking the very framework which they have chosen to uphold, which has been the entire crux of my argument. The media agrees with this framework, and yet defies it.

        5. I think that your viewpoint is just another version of the law of averages. On average (i.e. in general) it is be true that even the “truth” is subjective. However, we are currently debating inside a common-sense framework (which I have already described). Within that frame framework, for all practical purposes, the truth can be considered to be an objective platform, which is constant, regardless of personal viewpoint.

        For example, a class of students give a test, in which the average marks are 70 out of 100. Hence on average, the class (of students) scored 70 marks. But if we pick up a random student, what is the probability of him/her scoring 70 marks? Can we assume with a high degree of probability that that student will have scored 70 marks, simply because the average marks scored are 70?
        One cannot apply a “general” or average principle to every particular instance. Hence my point about why generalization is incorrect here.
        Consequently, you can see the extreme fallacies of the “increasing sophistication” point which you made at HH. How “deeper” can you actually go? If we choose to argue on that, then I’m afraid that we will be entering into a region of philosophy and (mostly) guesswork.

        • -+

          Maitreya,

          I’m glad we’re clearing some things up, and that you’re not just assuming I’m choosing to not understand you.

          1. I don’t think there is a pre-existing pristine state of “truth” in Google that is only ruined or diluted by subsequent media reports. It’s just not how I understand Google’s algorithms to work and I don’t think its a strong premise for you to argue from. Google doesn’t start with “truth” and then allow itself to be manipulated by popularity. It starts with being manipulated by popularity. It is a representation of popularity. Like we agree, we can find “truth” through Google, it is certainly “also” on there, along with “truths” A, B, C…Z, all ranked according to popularity (which is an proxy of persuasiveness and authority).

          If your argument is that the media should care to aim higher, I don’t see how this weak Google premise is helping you. I think this started with you trying to establish that the proof of lies is out there. I agree, insofar as I share your belief that what you’re referring to is a lie. If I don’t, I’d just as quickly counter that proof of it being the truth is also on Google, right? It’s a dead end. Google is a resource of information, but not a resource of “truth”. It only becomes a resource of “truth” when a person subjectively deems it such because they have subjectively been persuaded by a piece of information they found on Google. But that doesn’t actually make Google a resource of truth any more than it is a resource of “lies”.

          2. Sorry, you’re making a fatal assumption. I don’t assume that other people know them. I don’t agree that “everyone” knows why the media lies. I also don’t agree that “the media” is lying every time they get something wrong. I thought this was evident in what I’ve already said before. Your point therefore doesn’t stand with me.

          When “the media” says something you don’t like or don’t agree with, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are lying. That would presuppose that they know the “truth”. What if they didn’t? As I’ve said, truth is subjective. What if they looked on Google, read the same things you did, yet concluded otherwise? You’re presupposing the existence of an objective truth that no one can deny. That’s just not the case for a good many of the issues out there, like Chinese foreign policy. Remember, interpretation. You risk accusing people of lying simply for not believing the same thing you do. It’s one thing to disagree, it’s another thing to argue that the other person is being disingenuous. It’s harder to prove the latter. Just because you think certain viewpoints may increase profits or are sensationalist doesn’t mean those viewpoints were expounded for those very reasons. Ever consider that they may really believe those viewpoints?

          And when they do, they’re not lying. They’re just in disagreement with you. They’re just not persuaded by the “truth” that you subscribe to. You can’t automatically ascribe malevolence to others simply on the basis of their disagreement or subscription to a different opinion or because you can argue that they stand to benefit from it. That’s like arguing that a defendant is lying about being not guilty because he stands to benefit from not being found guilty.

          The “everyone knows” argument is a fallacy. Yes, there are situations where I’d agree with you on certain things being common-sense but on a complex issue like media bias or media lies, it just isn’t that clear cut. I don’t accept that “everyone knows why the media lies” or that “the media lies”. I accept that individuals or organizations in the media may lie for certain reasons such as those you’ve listed, but I think you’re guilty of another sort of generalization here that doesn’t bode well for the persuasiveness of your argument.

          3. Okay.

          4. I don’t know how you can say “one should know which search result to believe and which not to” with a straight face. That’s like a religious fanatic telling me I should know which religion is true and which are false religions.

          Sure, you can attack those that break the very frameworks or principles they espouse to subscribe to and adhere to. That’s calling out a hypocrite. But we’re talking about “the media” here, which is not one monolithic entity. It is even less so than the Chinese government, especially in a media market like the United States. Pointing out that some members of the media do not uphold the principles that others profess is a valid observation but not very useful for damning the entire industry. Just because some individuals of the media may be shown to be lying doesn’t mean others are lying, much less lying for profit.

          Again, I don’t think you’re insisting that every falsehood is a lie but you’re coming across that way and it isn’t helpful because it is leading you to presuppose certain things that you then use as premises for further arguments.

          Next, you seem to have forgotten the difference between media and journalism. The later may righteously profess a pursuit of objectivity but not the former. Editorialists, commentators, and pundits are not by definition bound to any ideal of objectivity or expertise. Any objectivity or expertise is only invoked by them as a means of persuasion. So, I’m wondering how much of your ire towards “the media” is due to “lies” by people who “ought to be” bound by objectivity or expertise and how much is due to people who simply hold views you disagree with but have made their way into the media?

          Next, I don’t know why you think I find your examples insufficient. I just don’t find them to sufficiently support the extent of your argument.

          Let’s take a look at your latest example: You have a “hunch” that Malik is being “deliberately trying to be misleading”. Ever consider that he genuinely feels 50% is “substantial”? Ever consider that he may feel that way because he believes none of it should’ve been conceded to China? Maitreya, you have a different viewpoint and “truth” from Malik and, sorry, the media decided to report what he said instead of asking you what you think. It may mean you’re not as “known or eminent” as Malik is. You now have a possible direction to head towards, that being becoming more known and eminent so the media will report on what you think.

          Now if you think you shouldn’t have to do that and the media should report “your” truth as they could discover from enough Google searches while refraining from “political usage of the English language and ambiguous terminology”, then I have nothing to say to you other than: tough luck, pal. Welcome to an unfair world. This is why my position on media bias is first and foremost in support of increasing competition to reach approximations of “truth”. I believe it is each person’s responsibility to persuade others of that which they care about, and to expect — or even feel entitled to — others knowing and promoting what you think is the “truth” is folly.

          I repeat – the frame­work here which I am choos­ing to be in is that jour­nal­ists should VERIFY what they print. Is that a “sub­jec­tive” frame­work? Accord­ing to your logic, there should be no laws at all then, sim­ply because those laws/frameworks will be sub­jec­tive too.

          What if those journalists believe that 50% is indeed “substantial”? What if they believe China did indeed “wrest” them from said countries?

          My logic on laws and frameworks accounts for social norms, things that a majority of a society agree to. A majority of society agrees that murder is bad. A majority of society agrees that lies are bad (albeit not as strongly or uniformly as murder). The problem for you is that a majority of society does not necessarily agree on what is the truth and what is a lie for many complex and contentious issues. You’re trying to presuppose that they do. That’s a mistake and flaw in your argument.

          The entire crux of the mat­ter is, that the media is hyp­o­crit­i­cally break­ing the very frame­work which they have cho­sen to uphold, which has been the entire crux of my argu­ment. The media agrees with this frame­work, and yet defies it.

          See above.

          5. No, I don’t think my viewpoint is a version of the law of averages. I don’t find your common-sense framework to match mine nor is it persuasive. I’ve explained my reasons many times now but I hope you’re not going to fall back on: “you’re refusing to be persuaded.” That would just be silly.

          The framework that I agree with and have always agreed with is that hypocrites can be called hypocrites and liars can be called liars. But you have to prove it. I acknowledge, recognize, and even offer examples of my own for the existence of hypocrites and liars, but I think you’re a little too eager with your arguments. My responses to you about subjective truths is meant to counter your proposition that the media lies and everyone knows why they lie. I’m not saying the media or members of the media never lie, nor am I justifying lying, I’m just saying they’re not always lies and no, not everyone knows why the media lies even if they believed that the media lied. This is not the law of averages. To me, this is a more accurate description of reality.

          When the media presents things you disagree with, it doesn’t mean their version is automatically a “lie” just because you hold a different “truth”. It doesn’t mean they failed to do their job or didn’t do their research. It could mean they just arrived at a different conclusion and who is to decide how much research is “enough”? Your “truth” is only as true as others believe it to be when you present it to them. Your “enough” is only as “enough” as others believe it to be when you argue it to them.

          For exam­ple, a class of stu­dents give a test, in which the aver­age marks are 70 out of 100. Hence on aver­age, the class (of stu­dents) scored 70 marks. But if we pick up a ran­dom stu­dent, what is the prob­a­bil­ity of him/her scor­ing 70 marks? Can we assume with a high degree of prob­a­bil­ity that that stu­dent will have scored 70 marks, sim­ply because the aver­age marks scored are 70?
          One can­not apply a “gen­eral” or aver­age prin­ci­ple to every par­tic­u­lar instance. Hence my point about why gen­er­al­iza­tion is incor­rect here.

          That doesn’t remotely look familiar to what I’m doing/saying/arguing. But you’re free to subjectively believe otherwise. All I can say is that your interpretation of my comments aren’t persuasive to me.

          Con­se­quently, you can see the extreme fal­lac­ies of the “increas­ing sophis­ti­ca­tion” point which you made at HH. How “deeper” can you actu­ally go? If we choose to argue on that, then I’m afraid that we will be enter­ing into a region of phi­los­o­phy and (mostly) guesswork.

          Sorry, I don’t see the fallacy, much less the “extremism” of said fallacies. The increasing sophistication point is about how many proxies we’re using for objectivity. It was in response to Allen and DeWang’s suggestion that maybe we can have licensing for journalists. I’m saying that we can, but how do we trust that the regulatory agency responsible for licensing can be expected to be objective. Some, even many, will not question that, but some will. Those who don’t, however, can be argued to have been mollified by the increased sophistication of vetting journalists. They didn’t trust a journalist before, but now because some agency was set up to give that journalist a stamp of approval, they do? That’s an appeal to authority fallacy.

          The problem is precisely that you can always go deeper, you can always suspect further. I thought you were accusing me of being too philosophical precisely because I believe this. I believe everything can be rendered suspect and that’s why I encourage people to be skeptical and to do their best to think critically. Not everyone will go as deep or as far as I may, and others may go farther. We all have a point where we stop caring after all, but I don’t see how my point isn’t a valid concern in response to the idea of pursuing greater objectivity through regulatory licensing.

          • S.K. Cheung

            -++1

            I think a pursuit of something “better” is a necessary and ubiquitous motivation, be it in the construction of mousetraps, development of cars, provision of healthcare, improvement of infrastructure…the list of things that people can do “better” is probably seemingly endless. Somewhere on that list should be journalism. But the more difficult things to answer are questions like “what is better” and “who decides”, wrt journalism.

            First off, as I said yesterday, “western media bias” is tossed around like nickels. But seldom is “western” defined. Many times, it seems to serve as a synonym for “American”, but it would seem self-evident that the US does not constitute “the west” in its entirety. So although I find the term to be an over-generalization on the best of days, I also wonder if the US is giving “the west” a bad name (though that would not be a first).

            The segue to the second point is that, before one attempts to find a solution, one must first determine the scope of the problem. So does all media the world over need improvement in terms of journalism (I’ll avoid the obvious shot at the CCP media here)? Just “the west” (however defined)? Just the US? It seems to me that, if you’re going to improve journalism, you should do it the world over. And that’s never gonna happen, if for no other reason that some governments will see to it that even good journalists can’t utilize their skills to the fullest. So how about starting small, just in the US. Which brings me back to what I think most people really mean when they say “western media bias” anyway: US media bias, for what that’s worth.

            If we are to target “US media”, how do we mandate improvement? This is where we need an answer to “what is better”. Is it in their methods (eg independent sources, first hand info, corroboration)? Is it in their delivery (for example, some of the complaints above seem to boil down to word-choice)? Is it in their discretion as to what stories they choose to tell, and more importantly, choose not to tell?

            Assuming you’ve decided what constitutes “improvement”, then how do you ensure its delivery? Most journalists already have gone to school for it. So is it more education? Instead, licensure has been mentioned. However, licensure in most fields only demonstrates a minimal level of competence, and certainly does not represent excellence. Haven’t journalists already shown their minimal competence by virtue of completing their education for same? Furthermore, a regulatory body to manage licensure is also an avenue for bringing grievances. Imagine how busy a “journalist association” would be just responding to the people who throw around “western media bias” today. Not to mention that most regulatory bodies consist of individuals who are fellow professionals in that particular field, which might serve as a whole other can of worms for those who would be most inclined to file grievances.

            All of the above ignores today’s reality, which is that you don’t have to be an actual “journalist” to provide journalism. At what point would a “journalist” need to become a “licensed journalist” in order to do journalism work? In an era where any Tom/Dick/Harry can have a website and carry on about god-knows-what, is it more likely that the requisite skills for good journalism will be found wanting among the “pros”, or the amateurs?

            Wishing to see an improvement in journalism is a laudable goal, just as it makes sense to want to see improvement in a bunch of things. But as they say, the devil is in the details. And particularly when it comes to lightning-rod topics like China, somebody somewhere will find some fault in some journalist’s opinions, methods, delivery, or discretion. Barring a better solution, for the time being, it seems that market forces will be the dominant player in weeding out “bad” journalists.

          • -+

            @Kai

            “I’m glad we’re clear­ing some things up, and that you’re not just assum­ing I’m choos­ing to not under­stand you.”

            Its just that you asked so many questions, many of them which I thought were rhetorical, that I thought that you were doing it just on purpose.

            1. I see that you are seeing only the 50% figure, and not the 4% one. And for the matter of that, is 50% really “substantial”? The same can be said for Russia too, that they kept 50% of the territory, hence they too wrested “substantial” concessions form China. There you go – both sides wrested “substantial concessions” form each other! Heck – Why stop there? Tajikistan wrested “substantial” concessions form China by keeping 96% of the disputed territory!!
            If you really believe that, or if you think that they really believe that, then I think there is nothing more to argue about.

            As for your claim that “Ever con­sider that he gen­uinely feels 50% is “sub­stan­tial”? Ever con­sider that he may feel that way because he believes none of it should’ve been con­ceded to China?”, may I remind you that it was Gorbachev who initiated the talks after they were stalled for years. Russia wanted only 50% of the territory. The details of the dispute are another matter which I don’t want to get into. Mallik is simply exploiting this grey area and using the language to his advantage AND like you, ignoring the 4% figure, just as I said.

            The Han population in China is 92% of the total. But when the NYT claims, not once, but twice, that it is 96%, a difference of 52 million people, they are not “wrong”, they are just subjective, aren’t they!? I’m being subjective in believing official and reference figures! I “subscribe” to (what I believe) is the truth, namely that the Chinese population is 92% Han, according to heaps of official reference figures and not 96% . Is that too “subjective”? Is it the “truth”, or is it simply “my truth”?

            Google apologized to Chinese authors, but ToI says that it didn’t. They are not wrong! They are simply being “subjective”, in such the same way that I’m being subjective in believing google when it said it apologized!!! Google is being “subjective” in saying that it apologized, in just the same way the ToI is being “subjective” in saying that it didn’t!!

            There are so many such examples that you can literally drown in them. They are not simply mistakes. Mistakes can happen once or twice.

            Which is why I said that “one should know which search result to believe and which not to”.

            The market forces and the public give importance to such sensationalist and populist reporting for reasons which I have discussed on numerous earlier occasions, and hence I don’t think it will ever stop. The only thing which we can do is educate ourselves.

            You said: “Ever con­sider that he gen­uinely feels 50% is “sub­stan­tial”?” Well, let me put this argument on its head – a question which you have consistently ignored answering, despite my bringing it up repeatedly. A terrorist kills innocents in the name of religion- Ever con­sider that he “gen­uinely feels” that it is justified”? If he does, then why punish him?

            2. Also about the google point – I thought that you had understood this (which was, as you said earlier, was just a “miscommunication” and “misunderstanding” which you didn’t understand initially, but did so later) , but now I think we are getting muddled up again. Initially, google will show the truth because the media will not have picked up this story, and the only thing about the topic which will remain to be shown is the fact of the matter. I have given you numerous examples of this sort.

            3. The standard response that “you are subjective and that is your viewpoint” is an escapist attitude and an excuse for not taking efforts to find out the facts. I have repeatedly raised this point which you yourself admitted to understanding with your comment about “intellectual laziness”.

            4. I see that you have once again chosen to generalize the whole argument about objectivity and subjectivity. In that case, I don’t think we are going to reach anywhere.

            5.

            ““polit­i­cal usage of the Eng­lish lan­guage and ambigu­ous ter­mi­nol­ogy”, then I have noth­ing to say to you other than: tough luck, pal. Wel­come to an unfair world”

            Whoa! Where did that come from? Do you really think that I am not aware that the world is unfair? Are you even reading my earlier comments?

            6. You can go deeper, but my point is that it is not practical. There should be a standard set, which the media AND journalists have set for themselves, and now they are breaking it. The argument that they are just being subjective like everyone else doesn’t hold water because they themselves set the standard, which, for all contents and purposes, was “objective” for them too before they threw journalistic standards out of the window.

            7. In conclusion, I repeat that I don’t think we are reaching anywhere here. No matter how many examples I give to prove my point or how much explaining I do, you are still going to believe that I am being subjective. The fact is, that each and every “truth” can be opposed by saying that “that is just your subjective viewpoint”. I think that this aspect is based on very thin ice and a weak foundation. If you believe that “everything can be rendered suspect”, then I don’t think that we have anything to argue about in this matter. If the tons and heaps of examples (so many of them that it is becoming the norm in reporting about China rather than the exception, and most certainly not ‘mistakes.’) cannot convince you, then no amount of arguing stands a chance. When you say that “everything is interpretation” and there is no right and wrong, then that is just like a religious fanatic telling me that killing innocents in the name of religion is also just his interpretation.

            I’m not saying that the very same standards of law and order should apply to journalism too, nor is there any point in censoring the media. “Who is to say what is the truth and what is a lie?” Now I agree with that, but not when BOTH parties have previously agreed to a framework of what the truth or standard should be.

            However, the difference in perceptions of truth (which they themselves helped create) and misconceptions about China are exploited by the media and the excuse given is “Hey – you don’t agree with it, doesn’t mean its wrong”. If you really and truly believe your argument about “what is right and what is wrong” is actually practical, then I think that chaos will follow, because everyone will have their own version/interpretation of the “truth”, and there will be no ‘absolute’ truth, even WITHIN the framework. (I think that my Euclidean geometry example captures this point.)
            In that case – Enjoy the Matrix.

Continuing the Discussion