The early morning of May 5, 2015, saw an article posted to The Huffington Post regarding Taiwan and tourism; as you can see from the original link, it’s been removed. There’s not even a redirect: just a blank page. It’s as if The Huffington Post wants absolutely nothing to do with the article.
If you’re curious why, you can click here and read it. Finally, Google’s creepy “read and save everything” nature pays off.
The piece itself was badly written and there’s currently discussion in the expat community as to whether or not Janice Lintz even wrote it, if it was compiled from online sources, or just simply ghost-written. The writing was sub-par and the facts were simply wrong. Here’s her opening paragraph:
“Taiwan is not a typical destination for Westerners yet it is popular with Chinese visitors. Taiwan has its own President, constitution, armed forces and currency but is officially called the Republic of China (ROC) despite being part of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). The island is composed of 16 indigenous groups in addition to a blend of Japanese and Chinese cultures. English is widely spoken and locals are eager to assist.”
There are many things not true about that paragraph. Here’s the Big Three:
1. Both the ROC and the PRC claim Taiwan belongs under their flag, but the ROC flag is the one that flies over Taiwan. How Lintz decided that Taiwan is part of the PRC, after mentioning how it “has its own President, constitution, armed forces and currency,” is beyond logical explanation. It reads like the kind of propaganda we see from XinHua. Check out how she tagged the piece (note the “Tapei” and “Tapei 101” – we’ll to that in a few paragraphs):
2. There are not only 16 indigenous tribes in Taiwan. A quick look on Wikipedia tells you there’s 16 recognized tribes and 12 unrecognized tribes. OK. I’m nit-picking.
3. The idea that English is widely spoken is utterly ridiculous. Though, to be fair, the piece was very Taipeicentric (as are most pieces about Taiwan and travel).
Continuing on in the piece, you see paragraphs like this one:
“Humble House Tapei is a Design Hotels™ www.humblehousehotels.com property centrally located by Tapei 101, National Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall and the luxury shopping centers. Tapei 101 can be seen from the roof top pool if your room doesn’t have a view. Taste the local delicacies at the gourmet food cellars in the nearby malls.”
How does someone that claims to be a professional writer misspell the name of the city they claim they know so much about…three times…in one paragraph? All-in-all, it’s just a worthless piece that reads like a poorly-written script for a commercial to be aired in Beijing.
I know it’s hard to imagine how it could get worse, but it gets worse.
Around an hour after The Huffington Post pulled Lintz’s so-wrong-its-ridiculous article from their site, leaving nothing but an empty grave (not even a redirect to the main page), Taiwan’s Focus Taiwan News Agency (a subsidiary of state-run CNA) decided to post their own article based off Lintz’s atrocity. You can read it by clicking here.
Somehow, after Lintz wrote something so clearly terrible, Taiwan’s government-controlled media outlet thought the prudent thing to do would be to ignore all the wrongness of the article, read way into it, ignore everything factually incorrect or embarrassingly uninformed, and make the claim that Taiwan is becoming a new international tourist hotspot.
Focus Taiwan‘s piece only quotes the original piece twice, pulling quotes that are completely worthless in content but flattering to Taiwan, while not linking back to The Huffington Post‘s original article (or even stating that it has since been removed). Basically, Focus Taiwan read a questionable-at-best article about how one person thought Taiwan Taipei was a good place to visit and decided that was an indicator that the entire Western hemisphere was chomping at the bit to come check out Taiwan’s restaurants, tea houses, temples, and museums.
The title of Focus Taiwan‘s article is “Taiwan emerging as international tourist destination: U.S. travel writer” but the first line of the piece they’re copying says “Taiwan is not a typical destination for Westerners yet it is popular with Chinese visitors.” I’m not one to pick on headlines for being misleading (especially since Focus Taiwan‘s title is technically true), but the content of the piece does even more to make it sound like the international people who wish to flock to Taiwan aren’t people from China, but Western countries. And we all know that’s just not true.
This is just another example in a long line of Taiwan’s yellow journalism, most recently exemplified in Apple Daily‘s coverage of a sexual assault charge. Not that I’m a huge fan of The Huffington Post, either, but at least they had the good sense to take the article down 20 hours after it was posted, after seeing Lintz get so slammed with criticism on Twitter from people living in Taiwan that she systematically blocked anyone saying anything about the piece’s [lack of] accuracy.
Then, an hour after The Huffington Post pulled the piece, Focus Taiwan put up theirs, with no links and minimal quotes. Somehow, after The Huffington Post posted a factually-inaccurate badly-written article, Focus Taiwan (again, Taiwan’s century-old state-run media group) still managed to write an article that makes their journalistic integrity look even sadder than The Huffington Post‘s, which is really saying something.
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