Saturday, September 23, 2006

 
Another Brick in the Wall
When one has to scrawl a picture on a piece of scrap paper for your English language-impaired editor at Hong Kong's No. 2 English language paper in order to explain what a "blimp" is, it's probably a clue that it's not going to work out and your talents -- such as they are -- are probably better utilized elsewhere, like maybe 3rd shift at an Arkansas poultry abatoir.

Nonetheless, I managed to write a fairly decent feature story about the recent Shenzhen Goodyear blimp sighting, though it has yet to hit print in favor of -- oh, here's another one -- a gripping account of a crack in a first floor beam at a Hong Kong subway station. That one wasn't my idea and it grew even staler when after very reluctantly taking the assignment I discovered that the small crack...
1. was reinforced properly with permanent repairs scheduled
2. posed no danger to subway users in general
3. or to people who were using the subway as transportation to ride a nearby newly opened cable car tourist attraction, which, yes, has been bedeviled with problems but sometimes small cracks just happen to structures that aren't directly connected with a cable car.

Nonetheless the story was being ballyhooed by the Chinese language media that day so, despite the absolute paucity of news value as I understand it, I was ordered to "get to the bottom of this coverup!" And do so in 2 hours. They already had pictures of the crack courtesy of one of our sister Chinese publications along with a poorly translated story that hinted at apocalyptic doom for subway and Skytrain riders alike should this travesity continue unchecked. (Meanwhile, in the last six months there have been two cop-on-cop shootings resulting in three deaths and a high ranking former member of the HK triad investigation unit jumped to his death from the roof of his apartment building. Does any HK paper, much less mine, expend any resources looking into this? Nah.)

What I got to the bottom of was my patience for calling Chinese language message centers for Hong Kong bureaucrats and politicians and taking 5-7 minutes to calmly with clenched fists and a skyrocketing blood pressure to painstakingly s-p-e-l-l m-y n-a-m-e three or four times, repeat my phone number, professional affiliation and reason for calling an equal or more number of times and then wait for a call back from a puzzled someone in a packed, Cantonese-squawling karaoke bar/jackhammer test center.
Comments:
The world has left newspapers behind. Get in with a professional outfit, something private, like an equity firm that needs researchers. You'll never have to whine again.
 
The amount of legitimate news that goes virtually uncovered in this city is pretty shocking.

The Gillian Chung bra photo manufactured drama nearly had me jamming chopsticks through my eyes and into my brain.
 
The newsie coverage of the suspected floor beam in HK will last until someone in the HK government with a family member on the mainland who happens to be a member of the CCP is mentioned as one of the people responsible for structural maintenance.
 
This reminds me... I really don't miss working at a newspaper. Then again, there's just as much bureaucracy and stupidity in a Chinese school.
Ugh, I need a real job.
 
Advice: Get some matches.

Hindenburg! - Now theres a story that would stop the press!
 
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