The WTO Meeting as Action Film
The main part of this post is about the media coverage in Hong Kong so far of the World Trade Organization Ministerial Meeting here in December. The ongoing scenario is an action film with bombs, riots, anarchists dressed as ninjas in black, suicides and blood flowing abundantly in the streets (see, for example, The Hong Kong Police Plan For The WTO Meeting). Alternately, if the reporters can't find any violence, they are always willing to report on sex scandals among the visitors.
(Metro Daily via InMediaHK) Prediction: The WTO Meeting Will Be Another Action Film. By Leung Man-to. August 15, 2005.
(translation) "Action! Please give us more action. We want to be more action scenes." If you pretend that you have never seen any Chinese-language media in Hong Kong, or if you pretend that you are a foreigner who had just learned Chinese, you should take a look at how the Hong Kong media is treating the WTO Ministerial Meeting at the end of the year. You are bound to think that the people of Hong Kong demand the same from their newspapers as their movies -- more "bloody street violence" action scenes.
In preparation for the WTO Meeting, the media have begun to report on what arrangements are being made by the government. The strange thing is that people cannot read these media and find out just what this meeting is about. They won't know what the role of the Minsterial Meeting is in the context of the World Trade Organization. They won't in fact even know what the World Trade Organization is, or why it should attract so many opponents.
We only know that this mMeeting will turn the northern district of Hong Kong into a battlezone; that the South Korean farmers are radical, and some may immolate themselves; that the anarchist from Europe are experienced demonstrators, and they will glide right through the police cordon. Therefore, the Hong Kong police will be in full force to defend the meeting site, even at the cost of sacrificing public safety in other districts. In the worst case, they will ask the People's Liberation Army for help.
As to what those South Korean farmers and demonstrators from other parts of the world want, we don't know. This is not just the time to condemn the media for only wanting sensationalism. This is the time to know that the Hong Kong media (and the print media in particular) is organized and operated in such a way that they can only pay much more attention to people jumping off buildings, stabbings, car accidents and other action film incidents than to world trade issues and policies and other "deeper" subjects.
Ever since Apple Daily began publishing ten years ago, the organizational structures at the Hong Kong mainstream newspapers underwent vast changes. The number of people responsible for editing the international news section has gone down; recently, even the number of people working on Hong Kong news have gone down.
The largest increase is the "doggie teams" (=paparazzi teams) that are posted near the various hospitals and police stations. They monitor police communication so that they can arrive at the scene immediately. It is not unusual for a big newspaper to have a team of more 100 mobile reporters ready day and night but only five people for the international section.
Since the newspapers believe that the readers like the breaking news most of all, they feel that they must have a large enough team that can cover any incident. This type of organization dictates the direction by which the newspapers produce the news. At the same time, it also limits the vista and strength of the news in newspapers.
Therefore, we can predict that if there should be so much as only one single drop of blood spilled during the WTO Ministerial Meeting in Hong Kong, that would become the focus of the media for the entire week. If thankfully everything stayed calm and peaceful, then perhaps we will all see the international VIP's visiting Lan Kwai Fong at night and then getting their photographs secretly taken while they take their companions back to the hotel room. As to what they talked about at the meeting, that will obviously not be the focus of the media.
Now it is time to go back to our regular program ...
What is missing from Hong Kong media? Here is my translation from the Sun Never Sets blog.
My parents live in Tin Shui Wai. Every time I go out from Tin Shui Wai, I have to reflect on how expensive the bus fare is: HK$7.6 to Sheung Shui by KMB, or HK$10.9 by City Bus if I want a seat in the morning; HK$13 to Mongkok; HK$14.5 to Shatin; HK$16.5 to Tsim Sha Tsui or Kwun Tong; and HK$20.7 to Causeway Bay.
The expensive bus fare limits the movements of many people. Senior citizens are one such victimized group.
My family is not rich, but we are doing better than before. Yet, my parents are very frugal and they seldom go outside Tin Shui Wai.
Occasionally, our family would go out for a meal in Causeway Bay or Mongkok. My parents usually picked Sunday. My mom said, "Yes, Sundays are better because your dad only has to pay HK$1 for bus fare."
Now that the bus companies have eliminated the HK$1 fare for seniors on holidays, the "Dad pays HK$1" theme is no longer repeated.
I just heard a special feature on Radio Hong Kong about a telephone survey conducted by the Hong Kong Community Development Network about how senior citizens use public transportation. The survey included more than 400 seniors. More than 90% of them said that they spend less than HK$200 per month on transportation expenses. The seniors are going out less often due to the expensive transporation fees or else they don't use public transportation. Their most frequently used method of transportation is walking, followed by public bus.
From the spokesperson for the Hong Kong Community Development Network, I heard the following two true stories:
(1) A senior citizen used to take the bus to visit a grandchild once a week in Tin Shui Wai. Ever since the senior citizen discount was canceled, the senior citizen no longer goes out to Tin Shui Wai, but says hello to the grandchild by telephone instead.
(2) A senior citizen sets out two to three hours earlier instead, and walks from Shumshuipo to Tsimshatsui for an appointment.
After listening to these two true stories from true people, I then heard my mom's own true story: "Our family used to walk from Portland Street to the Laiyuen amusement park in Laichikok for leisure recreation."
(I had two questions (1) Oh, really? (2) How did one walk from Portland Street to Laiyuen? But I was in a hurry to go out, and I did not ask her for the details.)
I just went to Wise News to search for the news reports on this survey. I found out that only Wen Wei Po, Tai Kung Pao, Sing Pao and Hong Kong Economic Daily News carried the story. I believe that this is another proof that the rights of the seniors citizens are being neglected.
I once met a friend. I asked the friend, "Which bus did you take to get here?"
The friend replied, "The number 11 bus."
I asked: "The number 11 bus? Is there a number 11 bus here?"
The friend pointed to the two feet.
Now wasn't that a lot more interesting and touching than blood-and-gore?