Should Have Known Better Than To Trust The NY Times: China 'Protest' Hangups Story Is Bunk

from the they-want-me-to-pay-for-this? dept

Earlier this week, we wrote about a report in the NY Times of people in China having their phone calls cut off mid-call when someone says the word “protest.” In our comments, many people questioned whether or not this was true, and with good reason. It now turns out that the story appears to be complete bunk. A bunch of folks in China have been testing this and can find no evidence to support it. In fact, one of the reporters who worked on that article commented on that link to say that he, too, tested it and could not confirm it. Yet… the NY Times published it anyway.

Yes, we should have known better than to trust a NY Times trend piece that opens with a cute and perfect anecdote. I apologize.

In fact, we’ve called the NY Times out for this same thing in the past. They love to start stories with “perfect” anecdotes that do not appear to have much basis in reality. But they want us to sign up for their paywall to pay for this kind of “reporting”?

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Comments on “Should Have Known Better Than To Trust The NY Times: China 'Protest' Hangups Story Is Bunk”

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Fickelbra (profile) says:

Not surprised

I was confused when you guys did a follow up on the story to begin with… It just wreaked of third-party word of mouth nonsense. Seems a pretty damn easy thing to confirm or deny, and since no one could confirm it… Not blaming you either though; one would hope they could remotely trust an article from NYT. But we all know the name of the game these days, it’s not about who has the most thorough story, just who announced it first.

Anonymous Coward says:

What is really funny here Mike is that you were more than willing to run with it, becoming their partner in the story by parroting it like truth.

As I said in the original thread, “it could be an example of people trying to hate monger on China with little to back it up”. Mike, you aren’t a stupid person (perhaps a little ignorant at times, but that is okay). Why would you run with a story in the first place? Could you not see it as the third hand tale that it really was? Plenty of people in the comments saw it.

Why so fast to jump on the bandwagon? Perhaps it’s something you support?

vastrightwing (profile) says:

Remember these?

LOL, and the New York Times thinks a pay wall will help? LOL when they have other problems like: Jayson Blair, Maureen Dowd, Walter Duranty, Hassan Fattah, Jack Hitt, the “Plastic Turkey” story, etc. I’d say their “fact” checking is a little on the poor side, to put it mildly. I don’t bother reading the New York Times since I never know where they’re coming from. They often leave out facts that lie just as much as the facts they make up. Consider this part of your plan to fix the times. Try putting integrity back into reporting… then… maybe they will come.

Gregg L. DesElms (profile) says:

The NY Times is obviously reading this web site

Today, the NY Times has added the following beneath the
China story:

Editors’ Note: March 26, 2011

An article on Tuesday about Chinese censorship of digital communications began with a description of two interrupted cellphone calls, which were cited as possible examples of ?a host of evidence over the past several weeks? that the authorities were increasing their efforts out of concern that antigovernment sentiment might spread from Arab countries. In one call, a Beijing entrepreneur lost his cellphone connection after he used the English word ?protest? twice. In the second, a call was lost after the speaker twice used the Chinese term for protest.

The article did not point out that in both cases, the recipients of the calls were in the Beijing bureau of The New York Times. Because scrutiny of press communications could easily be higher than for those of the public at large, the calls could not be assumed to represent a broader trend; therefore, those examples should not have been given such prominence in the article.

Anonymous Coward says:

Actually they do have something like that.

I suspect it depends a bit where you call from in china. They don’t monitor all the lines. Also, you have to trigger the mechanism in some way. Once we managed to accidentally trigger it on the word google. After it was triggered we ware not bale to say the word without being cut of. It was funny watching my wife explain to the person on the other line what not to say without being cut of. It tock tree calls 🙂

okwhen (profile) says:

Hopefully we are learning from past mistakes

Their is no such thing as new networks today. They have replicated Vietnam’s radio personality Hanoi Hannah a.k.a. Dragon Lady and are producing nothing more than propagandist crap. People seen to take sides, for instance against Fox news, however, they all seem to be mirror images to me. Let’s face it, without independent news free from government and corporate control, then we will only see and hear more of the same. Therefor, quoting the news without independent sources is only propagating the propaganda and becoming part of the Hanoi Hannah machine.

I just sent Mr. Lam with Gizmodo my dislike with on of his editors Jesus Diaz for publishing an article called ?chernobyl-kids-video-is-one-part-unnerving-two-parts-sad-and-three-parts-awesome? and making completely inaccurate statements.

Benjamin (profile) says:

Well done.

This is the difference.

I questioned the story, and I got flamed for it – and that’s the difference. Some people are willing to swallow the line wholesale, and without question. Those folks, and bloggers with lower standards never would have revisited this story. They would have buried it when they discovered the problem. Kudos to Mike for making sure the truth is fairly represented, regardless of the “cost.”

…And in this case, at least by my measure, the “cost” is greater respect from yours truly – and I already had a great deal of it.

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