Sun, Oct 19, 2003 - Page 8 News List

Letters:

Don't believe it

I want to commend you on last Friday's excellent editorial, ("Don't believe everything you read," Oct. 10, page 8) which takes on the dissembling that followed President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) interview in the Washington Post. It is a very refreshing step which educates the public on how to find truth.

You particularly pointed out one very good example of how the Post's Beijing correspondent, John Pomfret, misrepresented Chen's words. With a bit more detail, this would benefit the reader more completely.

The paragraph from your editorial says: "Nowhere in the Post article, however, is a quote from Chen about `refusing to succumb to US pressure.' Instead it was Pomfret who made the observation, `Chen said he would not bow to US pressure,' after quoting Chen as saying, when asked about US pressure regarding his recent moves (ie, rewriting the Constitution and national referendums) was, `Any kind of democratic reform is our own affair. I don't think any democratic country can oppose democratic ideals.'"

One thing I would add to that would be a lesson in how to spot this sort of media spin. Instead of quoting Chen directly, Pomfret interprets Chen's supposedly intended meaning, without ever providing the "quote" from which he derived this interpretation. Anytime this happens -- you might have added -- it is a pretty good indication that the reader should pay more attention. They should read the article, as you have done for them this time, and find these discrepancies for themselves. It is a favorite tactic of unscrupulous "journalists" the world over. But don't just "give [the readers] a fish." Instead, teach them "how to fish."

Another thing you pointed out was the problem of language translation. You informed us that the title of the article, "Chen dismisses fears in US of rising tension," had the word "dismiss" translated as "contemptuously repel" (嗤之以鼻) by some of the local media.

It is especially in this kind of case where readers on either side of the language barrier need the professional assistance that can be provided by the Taipei Times and other media when they decide to be honest.

I think that in the interest of truthfulness, you should provide daily a list of contacts (for example, the names, phone numbers, and e-mail addresses) of media watchdog groups where readers/viewers/listeners can report any such discrepancies they find in media reports.

The saying "Don't believe anything you hear, and only half of what you see" is often attributed to Will Rogers or Mark Twain. But I wouldn't necessarily trust either attribution!

Andrew Hokanson

Taichung

Stand up for Taiwan

Regarding the situation with Liberia: Can the Taiwanese change their traditional "face saving" strategy?

Whenever something bad happens to Taiwan, what you will say is all so predictable and childish. Things like "We have all the information under control" or "Let it go, it is not worth it."

To some degree, I understand your feelings under the circumstance.

But more and more, I notice that Taiwan has started to give up its manhood and "cocoon" itself. You need to learn more from South Korea -- behave like a nation of bravado and courage in sports, in sciences and in politics.

If you refuse to mature, no one respect you as a "nation."

Ming Zhang

Chicago

Taiwan's jacket should fit

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