New source for The Beijing Evening News: The Onion

Could it happen anywhere but China?

The article in the Beijing Evening News told a shocking story of American hubris: Congress was behaving like a petulant baseball team and threatening to bolt Washington, D.C., unless it got a new, modern Capitol building, complete with retractable roof.

There was a problem with the story. Rather than do his own original reporting, Evening News writer Huang Ke had cribbed, nearly word for word, his text from an American publication. And as if that wasn’t bad enough, Ke hadn’t bothered to vet the source he had plagiarized: The Onion.

At first, the Evening News stood by its story, demanding proof it wasn’t true. It finally did apologize, but stubbornly tried to deflect blame for having been duped.

It wrote: “Some small American newspapers frequently fabricate offbeat news to trick people into noticing them with the aim of making money.”

Hilarious, but pretty pathetic, too. Can you imagine — a Chinese news reporter not doing his own research/reporting, and instead borrowing from sources on the Internet? Who would have believed it? (Heavy sarcasm.)

Link via Andrew Sullivan.

The Discussion: 14 Comments

The act of plagiarism actually happened about 18 months ago – I wonder why the news has started to appear again.

April 16, 2004 @ 2:05 am | Comment

The other day I was reading a story on China Daily and noticed something rather strange.

It seemed that after every keyword in the article the following appeared: “(News_Websites)”.

For example, let’s say the story was about Iraq (can’t quite remember the specifics):

Paul Bremer (News_Websites) insisted that the insurgents were only a small minority despite the recent surge in violence in Iraq (News_Websites).

I quickly realized it was because they were so sloppy they didn’t even bother to remove the links from the Yahoo version they had copied. Of course, the version on China Daily didn’t link to anything, so it was just ridiculous looking.

April 16, 2004 @ 3:26 am | Comment

Unfair on the poor buggers at Beijing Evening News, working with news in a foreign language, and under the pressure of a strict deadline. Others have been duped by the Onion too – including Deborah Norville –

April 16, 2004 @ 5:39 am | Comment

Unfair on the buggers at the Beijing Daily News?

This is he exact reason why I never read Shanghai Eye and other “China apologist mafia” blogs.

China can do no wrong, never. It’s always ‘someone elses fault’ isn’t it?

Poor China.

April 16, 2004 @ 10:21 am | Comment

Good point. You certainly addressed all the issues there. Those hacks at the Beijing Evening News deserve all they get, eh?

April 16, 2004 @ 10:37 am | Comment

man, I am a big fan of Shanghai Eye and other members of the “China apologist mafia,” even if we frequently disagree.

To me, what’s at the heart of this story is not whether or not there are pressures on the reporters at Bjg Evening News, but the newspaper’s clumsiness/stubborness in admitting it fucked up. And I hope we all agree on that.

April 16, 2004 @ 10:45 am | Comment

“China can do no wrong, never. ”

So you consider a dishonest act by a reporter for a minor Beijing tabloid to be a wrong committed by China, a crime that should be shouldered by the entire 1.3 billion citizens of that nation? I guess the next time I see some outrageous story in some US tabloid, I should chalk it up as another wrong committed by America.

April 16, 2004 @ 5:34 pm | Comment

Yet more reason why you wonder stuff like the China Daily is considered a source for news.

April 17, 2004 @ 2:27 am | Comment

Bit hazy on the details of this incident, but from what I remember the reporter wasn’t on staff–he was one of the many freelance journalists who turn in stories to many newspapers (Huang Ke is probably a pseudonym). These papers, as SH-E notes, don’t have the resources for extensive fact checking, especially from a foreign source. Here is seems mostly that they either (a) knew it was fake when it ran, or (b) tried to scoop the big morning papers the next day. Their weak apology and “everyone else is doing it” excuse is a bit hard to take, though.

Then there’s always the political sensitivity angle (#29 on the list): in 1993 the China Youth Daily got caught in a firestorm of condemnation after they published an April Fool’s story on the front page (which, as a matter of fact, was put on a few international wires). Could be that the editors were trying to avoid spinning the story as “entertainment,” deciding rather to come down hard in condemnation on any satirical news.

Adam: remember that weird bus story from a few years back? Sometimes the English language Chinese press doesn’t even need to lift stuff from other papers–they can manufacture their own dubious material.

April 17, 2004 @ 5:23 am | Comment

“China can do no wrong, never. ”

Yeah right, but compared to the big brother (Uncle Sam), we are just nothing.

Sam says some nation is axis of evil, then it surely is;
Sam says he should get those poor Iraqis liberated, so he went for the battle and just bombed anywhere he liked.

But admittedly, the plagiarism is really a serious problem in China. Simply too many copycats, and sometimes they just ignore the laws imposed.

April 17, 2004 @ 10:12 am | Comment

DJ, don’t confuse America with George Bush. Hopefully we’ll be rid of him soon (though it’s unlikely, I’m afraid).

April 17, 2004 @ 10:16 am | Comment

BJ Evening News and Deborah Norville aren’t the only ones to have made fools of themselves mistaking The Onion as a serious source. I found the lead to this one on Living in Europe and if it wasn’t so sad, it be funnier.

April 21, 2004 @ 4:43 pm | Comment

Ellen, that is too precious. Should the Onion print the word PARODY in bold over each story as a service to stupid and/or lazy people?

April 21, 2004 @ 4:59 pm | Comment

strangerwatch: conspiracy theories

Does anyone want to take bets on how long it will take for some news outlet to pick up on Josh Feit’s “Monorail Meshugaas” story [stranger] without getting the point that it’s meant to be (and actually is) funny? I…

August 25, 2005 @ 10:15 pm | Comment

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