Beijing Evening News Admits Being Duped By The Onion

from the those-crazy-Americans dept

Last week we reported about the Beijing Evening News publishing a story directly from the Onion about plans to move the US Capitol to somewhere that had a retractable dome. Initially, the news editor of the Beijing paper refused to correct the error and asked for proof that the article was false. However, they’ve finally admitted they were duped, but still put most of the blame on the Onion: “Some small American newspapers frequently fabricate offbeat news to trick people into noticing them, with the aim of making money. This is what the Onion does… According to congressional workers, the Onion is a publication that never ceases making up false reports.” Indeed. Anyone want to explain satire to the folks at the Beijing Evening News?

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Comments on “Beijing Evening News Admits Being Duped By The Onion”

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Bill says:

I disagree with the comments!

Hi, Mike,
I’ve been a regular reader of TechDirt, and I’m really enjoying your comments. However, I must say that I disagree with your comments on this one.
I moved to the States about 10 years ago. At that time, with my limited understanding of language and culture, I sometimes just don’t understand the humor/satire of the media, and confused that with serious opinions. I think the person at the Chinese media just made similiar mistakes. However, I think we should be more tolerant and sensitive to this type of things. Humors are usually related to culture, and are the hardest thing to understand (if one is from a different culture.)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: that's BS, Bill

Bill, you’re missing the point here. The reason why it’s so funny and ironic that the Beijing paper was duped is because: a) They assumed that the article was real, because of existing Chinese bias against Americans, which categorizes us as decadent, materialistic, capitalist roaders and imperial running dogs; and b) because the Chinese reporter blatantly plagiarized the Onion’s article, pasting large, VERBATIM chunks of the article into his story and presenting it as his own work. (Incidentally, this brazen theft is in no way surprising when one looks at the rampant software piracy in China and the rest of the region).

Mike (profile) says:

Re: I disagree with the comments!


That’s a valid point. I wasn’t trying to be culturally insensitive and I apologize if it came across that way. I just thought it was amusing that the Beijing Evening News, instead of just saying “we didn’t understand this American humor” tried to place blame on the Onion by making it sound as though they actively try to trick people.

The point isn’t that the guy couldn’t understand the humor – I can understand that. But, once it was explained to him, he still wasn’t willing to concede that they had made a mistake. Instead, they suggested that the Onion was out to get them.

Beyond that, though, I do agree that humor is often a cultural thing. So, I can understand them being fooled. However, they probably (1) should have fact checked the article (not difficult) and (2) once they discovered they were wrong admitted the mistake – and said they made a mistake rather than placing the blame on the Onion.


Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: I disagree with the comments!

Mike, I actually agree with you here, which is a HUGE surprise. The funniest part about all this is the adversarial tone of the Beijing editor – defiantly challenging the reporter to prove the story was wrong, and to prove that his writer’s guiltless palgiarism was anything but acceptable.

Americans need to wake up and realize that China and its people HATE us, and would love nothing better than to watch and celebrate our downfall.

Todd says:


Well, you’d think that any journalist worth their salt (in any country) would investigate their sources to assess their veracity.

Just 1 click from the main onion pages yields their masthead information, which includes: “
The Onion? is a satirical newspaper published by Onion, Inc.”

Page through my English to Chinese-dialect-of-your-choice dictionary……Satire (n)…

But anyway, in the spirit of new sino-american cooperation and goodwill, let me ask here (where few will hear this request?): Onion (and other small newspapers who generate false news) would you please put a disclaimer on your web site. Ideally in every language. Thankyou

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