Sniper-blogger grills Taiwan reporters
“Even Reuters’ Ralph Jennings — of whom I’ve been extremely critical for getting the story very wrong when it comes to Taiwan — tells us that ‘half a million’ attended the protest,” a blogger wrote in October after seeing the Reuters’s write-up of an opposition-led demonstration in Taipei against President Ma Ying-jeou.
China claims sovereignty over self-ruled Taiwan. Ma, Taiwan’s president, likes China. The opposition and the blogger don’t like either.
I poured a beer to celebrate because I had it right, up from a score of “lies” that the same blogger gave me on a story earlier that year.
Not all of us get off so easy. The blogger would write up a former Taipei-based BBC correspondent for “vague and inaccurate descriptions,” one of the friendlier grades given to the British TV network’s Taiwan coverage. The same commentator gave the China Post, a local English-language paper, a score of “Nazism.”
“The facts that are always ignored when AP sells its mendacious stories about Taiwan,” the blogger added. And a one-time Taipei bureau chief with Bloomberg was labeled “China-centric,” with the word “China” in red type.
Getting blog-flogged is as much a part of being a 21st-century reporter as interviewing and writing. But none of the numerous transparency-wary reporters I know here can name the blogger who names us. Maybe it is one of us, someone quipped at a foreign correspondents club meeting. Maybe it’s you, I said. Maybe it’s you, he replied. Another correspondent said she once got into a debate with the blogger about her low grades, but still never learned the other party’s identity.
The blogs that offer Taiwan-based reporters this free publicity identify our sniper only as Tim Maddog, a member of the “education industry” in the central Taiwan city of Taichung. One website lists Michael Turton, a fellow Taiwan blogger, who some correspondents know personally, as a collaborator. But Turton says he doesn’t know who’s mad-dogging us.
On June 14 Taiwan’s Liberty Times newspaper ran a guest editorial bylined “Jason Cox,” and the blogger claims it’s his. The editorial text identifies Cox as an American-born, one-time student of Mandarin Chinese who gives advice to Taiwan’s main opposition party. The editorial tagline says Cox works in the iron and steel industry. Paid to give reporters a grilling? Nice work if you can get it!