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Friday, August 5, 2011

Chinatown Newspapers Won't Give You the Real Story Behind Mayor Ed Lee

Posted By on Fri, Aug 5, 2011 at 8:25 AM


If you take a walk in Chinatown on a weekday morning, you'll notice that many of the little old ladies have newspapers sticking out of their grocery bags, and the guys noshing on their congee are poring over the papers. But they're not reading the Chron or the Examiner, or even SF Weekly (gasp!).

But here's what the local Chinese community is reading: Sing Tao Daily, World Journal, and The China Press. The first two are printed in Traditional Chinese characters, the standardized character sets used in Hong Kong and Taiwan. The China Press is printed in Simplified Chinese characters, which have been used in mainland China since the 1950s as part of the government's attempts to increase literacy.

As of late, many of Chinatown's leaders have been consuming the English press -- namely Rose Pak and Mayor Ed Lee. And that's made SF Weekly a little curious about what the Chinese media is offering its own readers.

They're cheap

We're not exactly surprised that Chinese newspapers are less expensive than their English counterparts, considering how cheap the fruits and vegetables are on Stockton Street. While Chron readers are shelling out 75 cents daily, Chinese readers are paying only 60 cents for Sing Tao Daily and 50 cents for World Journal. But The China Press is even cheaper at a quarter. Now that's a deal.

They have more international coverage

Chinese newspapers aren't catering to local stories. Hong Kong-based Sing Tao Daily, founded in 1938, has the second-largest global coverage in the world, after the International Herald Tribune. World Journal, founded in 1976, serves North America, with a large Chinese-American and Chinese-Canadian readership. The China Press is the youngest paper, founded in 1990 to fill the need for a Simplified Chinese newspaper in the U.S.

Thus your Chinese-American neighbors in the city are well-informed about international news. In all three papers, international headlines are introduced first, before the local news. Recent headlines have included Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's trial, China's high-speed train crash, and sex allegations against Taiwan-born U.S. Congressman David Wu (D-Oregon).

Sing Tao Daily's section A breaks down into U.S., International, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Mainland Chinese news. Section B is devoted entirely to the Bay Area. The other two papers have similar configurations.

They don't tell us too much about Mayor Ed Lee

We were hoping that the Chinese press would give us the real story on Lee, Pak, and the mysterious campaign to get Lee to run for office. But after a thorough read, we were disappointed to find unsatisfying coverage.

For instance, we got nothing more than mundane and contrived quotes from Lee saying he's focusing on his current job and he hasn't made up his mind yet. Boring.

World Journal reported last Wednesday:

Lee indicated that he didn't know when the deadline was to declare candidacy, and when multiple reporters told him it was August 12, Lee said, "Then there's still time, right?"

As for stories on Pak and any allegations that she was behind an illegal Run, Ed, Run campaign, you won't find them in the Chinese press. These newspapers didn't have a single story on the issue. Perhaps, they just don't see it as an issue.

They like to poke fun at Obama, too

In Sing Tao Daily today:

"Mission accomplished, congratulations!"
  • "Mission accomplished, congratulations!"

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Caroline Chen


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