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Commentary: Biased Media Reports Reveal Credibility Crisis
    2008-03-26 16:06:47     Xinhua

N-TV, headquartered in Germany, used TV footage showing police with captured protestors in a report on the Tibet riots. The footage had been shot in Nepal, the police were Nepalese. [Photo: Xinhua]

By Xinhua writer Zhou Yan

Punch in Rediff.com, India's leading portal, and a Tibetan woman can be seen elaborating on the Lhasa riot in Mandarin, regrettably a language understood by about 20 percent of the world's population.

The woman, interviewed by China's Central Television shortly after the March 14 riot, can be seen accusing the rioters of sabotage. "They destroyed our good life, now that our children cannot go to school and we ourselves can no more get to work."

The English subtitles that appear on the video, provided by what was promoted as "the best multimedia news corporation in south Asia", the Asian News International (ANI), however, reads: "All the Tibetan people have gathered together yesterday on the street and the military men fired some tear gas, some poisonous ... and arrested about 10 or 20 people."

In one of the most impudent efforts ever to cheat the audience, the New Delhi-based ANI has deliberately covered the original sound bite and put in something else, as if the whole world could be fooled so easily.

Ironically, however, it hasn't forgotten all about its professional ethics: The attribute reads "Courtesy: CCTV".

While people across the globe are anxious to find out the truth about the riots in Lhasa and other Tibetan communities in western China, some media corporations have deviated from the basic principles of journalism, deliberately or indeliberately, by dubbing videos with fake sound bites, putting up photos with misleading captions and making groundless accusations of the Chinese government.

Among them are big-name news groups including the Washington Post, CNN, Fox News, BBC, The Times (of London) and several French and German media organizations.

I doubt if any of these biased reporters and editors have ever been to Asia. Maybe they are so fed up with their job that they don't even care to tune in to international news on TV?

Otherwise why do they take virtually every policeman, even all the dark brown skinned officers in Indian and Nepalese police uniforms, as Chinese?

A photo indicating Indian policemen hauling away a man was captioned "Chinese troops parade handcuffed Tibetan prisoners in trucks" by the U.S.-based Foxnews.com.

On the Washington Post website, a photo featuring Nepalese police thrashing a protestor was captioned "China's government is cracking down on Tibetan protestors".

In one of the many biased news reports by German media, Spiegel published a photo depicting how Chinese armed police shield themselves against stones thrown by mobsters, to declare that the "army responded with cruel acts".

As a reporter I would like to ask don't our counterparts in the Western world underscore accuracy and objectivity as the golden rules of journalism?

How come so many Western media openly call white black and distort plain facts?

"These media are exerting every means, including some extremely stupid and inferior intrigues, to blame the Chinese government for the riots, fawn on some politicians while fooling the public, so as to isolate China, make a devil of China and ultimately split China," said a Chinese in Germany.

Well said.

It's not that these biased reporters and editors are ignorant -- they have been desperately searching for piecemeal evidence against China. As the English saying goes, give the dog a bad name and hang him.

Now a word for these Western media: watch out for your credibility crisis.

The Chinese government's intention to keep foreign reporters off the potential risks in the Tibetan communities is so widely distorted and so many foreign media are criticizing China of having deprived their freedom.

The 26-member international media delegation that left for Lhasa on Wednesday, I hope, will slam on the brakes on such unfair criticism.

Let's see what these foreign reporters will say after they set foot on Lhasa.

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