Saturday, February 27, 2010

Same subject, different takes

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) won three of the four local by-elections today, including wins in traditionally Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) strongholds. It also increased its vote percentage in all four elections. Even in Hualien County, a KMT base, defeated DPP candidate Hsiao Bi-khim (left, holding bouquet) managed to raise the party’s share of votes from 29 percent to a record 41 percent (it’s probably a good thing that Hsiao didn’t win in Hualien; she is far too talented and connected to be locked down in local politics in Hualien, and her skills can be put to better use for the party at the central level).

As of this writing, two wire agencies — Reuters and The Associated Press — have reported on the vote. It is interesting to see how differently the agencies can report the news. First, here’s AP’s:

Taiwan’s ruling party suffered its third major electoral setback in two months Saturday, losing three of four by-elections despite the president's efforts to boost his sagging public support. The main opposition [DPP] won legislative seats in Hsinchu, Taoyuan and Chiayi counties, the Central Election Commission said. The ruling [KMT] won one seat in Hualien … The DPP’s strong showing is sure to boost its morale, allowing it to hit harder at President Ma Ying-jeou, especially his signature policy of forging closer economic ties with rival China.

Now here’s Reuters’; see if you can tell the difference:

Taiwan’s anti-China opposition party picked up two extra seats in legislative by-elections on Saturday, handing another loss to the ruling party that has pursued a detente with Beijing. The [DPP], which advocates Taiwan’s formal independence, won three of four seats, including one they held before, following months of popular discontent with the [KMT]. Sustained strength of the opposition could be a drag on Taiwan stocks, as investors might fear a freeze in recent moves towards greater trade a economic cooperation between Taiwan and China.

Aside from the “rival China,” AP remains neutral in its reporting and sticks to the facts. Reuters, however, gratuitously dramatizes the whole thing and shows its biases: The DPP is “anti-China” (a lie, except for the really deep-green, perhaps) while the KMT has “pursued détente.” In other words, the DPP is irrational, a “troublemaker” and “against” something, while the KMT is pragmatic and stands for “peace.” Then the wins are portrayed as a threat to the stock exchange and the proposed economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) between Taiwan and China. In other words, investors should “fear” wins by the DPP because the latter is supposedly bad for the economy.

In its first report, Kyodo, the Japanese news agency, also stuck to the facts, with a slight (and far less overt) spin in favor of the DPP.

It is said that beauty lies in the eye of the beholder; so does journalistic neutrality, it would appear.

10 comments:

Thomas said...

Great news! I think at least three wins were necessary in order to keep the KMT from claiming a victory of sorts. King had recently said that the party's strategy was to hold onto two seats at a minimum. Their loss of three seats will make it very hard for those in the KMT who are unhappy with Ma and King to be silenced. And, of course, it dims some of King's electioneering aura.

Now lets just hope your big tip that a wire agency is sitting on is just a rumor or is not as bad as you implied it could be. If it is something really bad, then the DPP has a much stronger hand drumming up opposition.

MikeinTaipei said...

Thomas: Yeah, that's good news for the DPP. I know for a fact, however, that my previous post is not just a rumor; I have it on very good (and insider) authority.

Tim Maddog said...

Michael, you wrote:
- - -
Aside from the “rival China,” AP remains neutral in its reporting and sticks to the facts.
- - -

That's not quite true. The AP article contains this outright lie:
- - -
Taiwan and China split amid civil war in 1949 [...]
- - -

For the benefit of others who may not get the nuance, it was the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) which "split in 1949" while Taiwan was legally Japanese territory until 1952.

Tim Maddog

J. Michael said...

Tim: You're right; AP does regurgitate its falsehood about the so-called "split" in 1949.

Islander said...

I'm curious why Reuters has more of a pro-China, pro-KMT slant than AP.

BIT said...

1. I agree that Hsiao Bi-Khim is too valuable for DPP and should be eyeing the central level.

2. I can't help but thinking there must be some kind of financial benefit for Reuters to report from the view of China. After all, it's KMT who still claims that it represents the entire China, including Mongolia and Tibet.

irwinc said...

Most of the time, the wire agencies rely on local reporters to write the story (that's how wire agencies work... they rarely have their own reporters write the story... at least not anymore). So the bias in the Reuters story is probably related to who they use as the feed in Taiwan (probably UND or China Times). The wire agencies will edit the local articles sometime if they detect bias; but Reuters probably didn't really care enough about a news story on by-election in Taiwan to edit the submissions.

J. Michael said...

Irwinc: Wire agencies have their own reporters in Taiwan, and the byline for that specific story was Ralph Jennings, whom I know fairly well. This was not a case of "armchair" reporting from abroad.

Alton said...

I've noticed that slant often in Reuters reports. They're not subtle about it.

Anonymous said...

According to Ralph Jenning’s Reuters blog page, http://blogs.reuters.com/ralph-jennings/

Ralph Jennings is also this guy:
http://lalaoshi.livejournal.com/

and he says:
http://lalaoshi.livejournal.com/114289.html

“My wife, born in China and who I've sworn not to blog about, once said that a certain Chinese ointment suddenly wiped out a pain in her back side..”

Ralph Jennings of Reuters, a Chinese son-in-law, and his wife, Cindy Sui, who wrote this pro-blue article,
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/8279841.stm

are a husband and wife team working in the mainstream media to spread propagandas for the CCP + KMT.

What a pity that they were Berkeley-trained and yet biased with pro-China agenda.

Professional ethics???