Gasp! Fake News … in China!!!

There’s a new post over at ESWN talking about the Beijing Legal Times. Apparently Chinese counterfeiters have now decided to make a newspaper that’s contents are completely false. This will leave many Chinese aghast at how low these people will go. In other surprise news, Chinese people still believe State-run news agency XinhuaNet is telling them the truth.

Thanks go to ESWN for the translation of the Ming Pao article that tells the story of ‘fake’ news in China.

(Ming Pao) May 3, 2006

[in translation]

The May 1st golden week was an opportunity for scam artists in mainland China to make money. In Wangjingfu street in Beijing, there are usually a large number of tourists. In recent days, the place is covered with “fake newspaper gang” members who publicly declared that “Faye Wong is dead by suicide” and “Li Ahpeng is arrested” and sold copies of the newspaper Legal Times to tourists. The amusing thing is that the “fake newspaper gang” has large numbers of customers.

Yesterday, the reporter was at the Wangjingfu subway entrance and was shocked to hear someone announced the news that “Faye Wong is dead.” The story was that Hong Kong singer Faye Wong was despondent after splitting up with Nicholas Tse and therefore committed suicide at her home. The news report also falsely reported that Nicholas Tse was so upset that he shaved off the hair on one half of his head. Also the newspaper reported that famous Chinese television program host Zhao Zhongchang was suspected of rape, that female singer Mao Ahmin has returned to the business, and other ‘news stories.’

None of the reports contained dates or the names of reporters and editors. Even funnier was that this Legal Times contained some contents from the supplementary section of the Legal Evening News (=Mirror) that was published legally on April 4th in Beijing. Yesterday, the reporter was observing at the scene and noted that more than one hundred people bought the newspaper in less than 30 minutes. Some tourists thought this news was true and they started reading immedaitely. Some other people said: “I knew that this was false, but I was just curious.”

The “fake newspaper gang” seemed to be well-organized. The reporter saw two vendors selling Legal Times at the two Wangfujing subway exits, with two other people acting as lookouts. When the reporter took photographs, one of the man came up to stop him and also attempted to take away the camera. The police and security people on the street did not seem to mind these people.

Honestly, if you’re going to make a newspaper that isn’t sponsored by the government, perhaps you might want to consider using it to do some real journalism. Of course then the police wouldn’t turn a blind eye.

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