First time on this blog? Beijing Traffic Lesson: Left Turn is probably a good place to start.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Front Page

I wasn't entirely surprised to see a picture of the bridge collapse on the front page of the China Daily newspaper. After all, it is right now the number one story internationally (it's still leading CNN's Asia News report), doubtless because of the unbelievable nature of the disaster, the loss of life, the dramatic images and stories, the fact that it ties into deep-rooted fears of people, and let's face it, because even international media has something of a U.S. slant.

An expat coworker offered another perspective on why it's big news in China's state-run media: because they can point to America, supposedly the most advanced nation in the world, and say 'See? Their bridges fall down, too.'

That seems cynical, but he may be right. The media here does play a tit-for-tat game. When concerns about Chinese food imports were raging back home, the discovery of tainted pistachios and chicken feet from the U.S. by diligent Chinese inspectors, and a threaten to boycott the U.S.'s unsafe agricultural products, was front-page news the next day.

A quick look at the other headlines does seem to indicate that these are government proclamations as much as they are news:

Foreign Media Enjoy Greater Access [read: we have a free press]
Top US Economists Rap Protectionism [read: even Americans support China's economic policy]
Party Graft Busters Uncover 900 Cases [read: corruption is under control, thank you very much]

The last story you can't see below the fold is about the rescue of 69 miners who were trapped in a flooded mine. We get those kind of feel good stories too, of course; the difference here is there's no sidebar questioning mining practices or safety.

The economist story is quite typical. The Chinese press LOVES writing about Americans who side with the Chinese in disputes. It undercuts the American government position in what is presumably a fair and balanced way (See? It's not us saying it, it's them!) and I assume makes U.S. policy seem less sure of itself and less stable. Which would give credence to my co-worker's theory.

But it is just a theory. This is big news no matter what, and we don't question why it's on the front page of newspapers in other countries. But I thought it was worth sharing.


Well, I have just seven work days remaining, and it seems like things are starting to wrap up a little. This week at work, I have:
  • Been involved in that software print campaign I was in the kickoff for my first day here and presented my second week; it's moving along but won't be in print for weeks or months.
  • Reviewed and given opinions on the online extensions of that campaign.
  • Developed a rough layout for a bilingual HR brochure about our agency mission and structure.
  • Sat in quietly on the presentation of the concepts for the TV commercial I took a crack at but really have no current role in since my ideas weren't used.
  • Started developing concepts for a new business pitch next Thursday. Kind of a rush job, and we'll see how it goes. Internal review is on Monday.

Right now, I'm waiting to dial into a 10 pm Beijing-time conference call with peers in London getting their feedback and the client's feedback from the TV commercial presentation. I saw their written comments, which were quite brutal, so I'm glad I'm a silent observer. Those close to me know how much I hate tension and uncomfortable conversations (Conflict makes me gassy!), so I may have to turn the volume down very low and do something else if it gets too awkward.

Hope your Friday night is better than mine!