In “Chinese students shed restraint in America” (IHT, Apr 30, published as “Chinese students in U.S. fight image of their home” on the NYT on Apr 29) Chou Wu, a Chinese doctorate student in the USA, is quoted by Shaila Dewan (in co-operation with Michael Anti) as saying that “Western media is even more biased than Chinese media“.
Ironically, in order to find evidence for his claim, Mr Wu should look no further than Ms Dewan’s article!
In fact, after reporting that Chinese students in America believe to be “still neglected or misunderstood (by Western news media) as either brainwashed or manipulated by the (Chinese) government“, Ms Dewan dutifully proceeds to portray those same students as…brainwashed and/or manipulated.
They are described as authoritarian, zealot nationalist prone to threats against Tibetans, also because “demonstrators could…intend to return home (too)”.
Ms Dewan even leaves the last word to Lionel Jensen, of the University of Notre Dame, IN, stating that Chinese students “dont’ ask” if Tibetans wanted the “aggressive modernization” brought by China to Tibet.
That doesn’t bode well for the impartiality of the article: a feeling that is confirmed when we are told that Chinese students’ “handouts on Tibet and China…contained a jumble of abbreviated history, slogans and maps with little context“.
Is “jumble” the appropriate word for a reporting piece? Methinks there is too much contempt for the report’s subject showing there.
We have to take Ms Dewan’s word for her judgements, as the only detail provided concerns “a chart showing infant mortality in Tibet had plummeted since 1951” (a positive thing if there ever was any). Alas, we are told, the students “did not provide any means for comparison with mortality rates in China or other countries“.
Too bad one is left none the wiser, as Ms Dewan herself provides no such a comparison either.
Once upon a time newspapers clearly separated news from news analysis. And journalists tried to report impartially. I know, that may be the stuff of Utopia nowadays, but is nobody trying anymore?