Sniper-blogger grills Taiwan reporters

June 19, 2009

“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!


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Surprised to see such a post aiming at personal identity but not the debate on words been said.It looks as though the meaning of words in a blog post depends on the true identity of a blogger.When I went through this sort of identity digging against me before, the only thing I can think of at the time was that the digger is unable to fight my words, so he/she has to attack my identity.The witch-hunt in the end “Paid to give reporters a grilling? Nice work if you can get it!” gets the post even lower.Not to mention that the author gets the person he is digging totally mixed up with someone else.Shouldn’t a professional reporter always do homework (Taiwan Matters’ new blog team 6/taiwan-matters-new-blog-team.html) before they post ?

Posted by Taiwan Echo | Report as abusive

Good point about “Getting blog-flogged is as much a part of being a 21st-century reporter as interviewing and writing.” I think everyone knows who is who here, and who is doing what and why, and I think everyone means well, and is trying to stand up for Taiwan, each in their own ways, although in the flame wars that sometimes go on, the bullets do fly. This will all settle out and settle down in the end, and I think the pot shots will stop. The blogosphere has definitely introduced a new dimension to news reporting, and it’s good to see you have a good sense of humour about it all, Mr Jennings. This too shall pass. If it ever gets sorted out, above, please dish. I am confused as ever. As ever, — Danny

Posted by Danny Bloom | Report as abusive

I’d just like to formally note that, while I correspond with Tim Maddog, we are not the same person and rather, we are part of the team at Taiwan Matters! So Maddog did not claim my editorial to be his; rather, that was one of the first posts after the transition to the newest team. You can find authorship attributions at the bottom of each post.

Posted by Jason Cox | Report as abusive

I do like the HUMOR of this post although you got mixed-up with people’s ID. Next time, just a bit more careful.

Posted by Άλισον | Report as abusive

My post raises the idea that Jason could be Maddog. It doesn’t convict him of maddogging, which isn’t a crime anyway. Jason ( has spoken for himself in the comments here and I have no reason to doubt him.

Posted by Ralph Jennings | Report as abusive

It may not make life easier – but aren’t the sniper’s objections justified?

Posted by justrecently | Report as abusive