Taipei Times editing standards


Goose egg. Good eye. Good catch. But these things happen when headlines are written. The paper will no issue a correction, but u could write a letter to the editor and tell them what you just told us. It's important.

But headline writing is a fuzzy art. Two people can read the same article and come up with two very different headlines. Happens in newspapers all over the world.


They have no editorial ethics. A couple of weeks ago they covered a "story" about the health benefits of artificial human milk. They didn't mention that the expert being interviewed worked for Nestl


[quote="llama_lout"]They have no editorial ethics. A couple of weeks ago they covered a "story" about the health benefits of artificial human milk. They didn't mention that the expert being interviewed worked for Nestl


The folks at Veterans' General in Taipei should sue them, just about -- they publish more papers in major neurological journals than just about anyone I've heard of (I edit for them, they're kind of superstitious about it, almost!) and all of their brain scanning stuff is about motor control, language, and other cool stuff. Not that using scanning for mental illness isn't a good thing -- but Goose Egg is spot on, scanning has done a LOT.

Perhaps the TT group was upset that they got a complimentary scan somewhere and it came up blank?? :smiley:


Yet again, ironlady, you seem remarkably enthusiastic about launching ugly attacks on the capabilities, knowledge and professionalism of people you don't know and who presumably had nothing to do with this headline crime (at least you added an accidental disclaimer about your financial relationship with the veterans' hospital). I would've thought you, as a doctorate holder, would be more circumspect given your familiarity with deadlines and the difficulties of ensuring linguistic exactitude under pressure.

Methinks it's time brainless, blunt-knifed timmy was brought into the ring again for a response. Maybe he could explain why the headline ended up as it did, and if we're polite enough, what he knows about Nestle.


What precisely is your problem? Are you humor-impaired? Or you can't read? I'm not quite sure how would you come to the conclusion that the folks at the TT had nothing to do with this "headline crime"... :loco: If it wasn't the folks at the TT, then who precisely do you think it was? And anyway, if you put out some of the stuff that appears in the TT, you have to expect folks to "attack" your capabilities.

I also fail to see what my education has to do with understanding the "difficulties of ensuring linguistic exactitude under pressure". Isn't "choose the best headline" an integral part of challenging, high-level tests like, well, the SAT [college entrance exam] in the US? Seems like we could expect media professionals to be able to do that.

Here, for those who are logic-impaired, is the content of my post.

  1. Veterans' General does a lot of brain scan research. It's interesting and it gets published internationally. Therefore, brain scan research has borne fruit, and the TT headline is wrong.

  2. The TT group was being idiotic when such a headline was allowed to pass.


follwed by...

The headline is blantantly misleading. IMO, the slam on Timmy is contradictory to your observatory comment to ironlady.
llama_lout - good catch.


TainanCowboy, the "slam" on timmy was obviously tongue-in-cheek because it used the insults of previous posters. At least, I thought it was obvious. Must I really add emoticons to every sentence that contains a shred of irony?

And ironlady (must I spell this out?), I actually agree with Goose Egg that the headline was inaccurate and even misleading


Um. Hardly. People have been pointing out the typos and mistakes in the TT for years now. The management/copy desk reads them. The typos/mistakes continue unabated. I'm certainly not saying I think they're idiots (well, maybe one, but he has practically ginger hair, so what can you expect) but they're either very careless or they simply don't give a toss about the paper. I don't think it's the latter.


Okay, let me get this straight. It's okay for you to post ironic comments without emoticons because, heck, folks are supposed to get what you really mean even if you don't say it. But it's not okay for others to do so -- particularly if God forbid they have more than one diploma -- because -- well, it's just not okay, even if they identify irony with an emoticon. Or did you believe I was literally saying there had been an actual brain scan and the results showed that the entire group of TT employees were walking around in some sort of medical miracle without anything between their ears? :noway:

Whatever. :unamused:

As for "plugging my own professional services", well, I proofread documents that I put out professionally, and keep what interpreters like to call the "feasibility filter" (I'm not making this up) running as I process text.

I agree with Sandman's views. ALL the English papers in Taiwan have been a target of ridicule for many years now. This was true the first time I was in Taiwan in 1984 and it's still true today -- we just have more pages and more papers to point at. Could they fix it by putting a qualified, native-speaking copy editor in as the last step in the chain and actually implementing the changes he or she recommended? Sure sounds like it. Would that be feasible? Sounds like it -- I know any number of people who could copy-edit the entire paper, check for the occasional "pubic opinion" poll type gaffe, and also take a gander at the headlines for fidelity to the article content, all in sufficiently short time to allow for publication. Might have to offer some sort of incentive to get a qualified person to work those particular hours. But, well, you know, you foreigners just don't understand Chinese culture... :smiley:


Maybe I should come at this from another angle. Goose Egg's point was well made, though the more I look at it, the more pedantic it appears from the point of view of a person who doesn't have two neuroradiologists as parents. Especially if you're more interested in headlines than the meat in the article.

What I am trying to understand is why people get off so royally on mocking the English-language press on minutiae


It's not really humor at all. I see nothing funny about a newspaper (or newspapers, as the case is in Taiwan) which fails to improve such basic items of journalism as spelling and grammar after so many years and so many errors. Nor is it "cultural imperialism" or something of the sort -- educated Chinese are just as particular about their language and how it is written.

If a person appears at an interview for an English-teaching job and has a resume full of errors, that person is unlikely to be hired if the person doing the hiring knows what he's doing. On the other hand, there are many buxibans in Taiwan who would hire such a person gladly. Are those buxibans the best qualified to teach English? Do they have room for improvement? The parallel seems obvious. Why should such errors be overlooked in a newspaper? You might also help me with your cause and effect relationship -- I can't quite see how lacking knowledge of Taiwan or the world situation would lead one to feel gleeful at the sight of typos.

Is there a lot of ground to be gained on unbiased reporting and comprehensive content? Sure. But then again if a paper can't even run a spell-check and have a qualified person check their content before it goes out, I'm hardly going to believe it's worthwhile to speak to them about content, am I?

You can search the archives if you're interested -- and I won't re-belabor the point here -- but the Chinese press in the US does not suffer from these problems. Strange, innit?


It's a fair question. Let me elaborate.

A person who is reading a newspaper because of the content of the stories (assuming the stories have content) is less likely to be irritated by typographical errors than a person who has little interest in the subject, knows nothing about the context, knows precious little about the country in which he or she lives, and thinks that everything he or she does at work is error-free and boasts 100% quality 100% of the time.

Now, Goose Egg made a good point on the basis of his familiarity with a certain issue, though astute readers would have picked the fault up as well, I expect. But for me the main issue was the point of the article, which was that brain scans have proved disappointing for those who thought they could open up a whole new field of research relating to mental illness. The headline didn't reflect this like it should have, but when I read the piece this didn't detract from the article itself.

As for your other points, I fail to see the relevance of all this Chinese imperialist culture stuff, and the bushiban parallel thing doesn't really make sense. Why? Because at least bushibans make a shitload of money ripping off students (actually, their hapless parents). I fail to see how these newspapers can make much money. The impression I have is that they all survive on the basis of sugar daddy companies who want to be influential or who have some political agenda. Very different motivations, and that allows for some interesting things to emerge.

Omniloquacious seems to think that these newspapers have some role to play, and I agree with him. They're certainly not perfect, but give me the Taiwan News, TT or (God help me) the China Post over the Straits Times or the China Daily any day. There's much, much more to life than proofreading.

I don't want to make this too personal, but when you did your doctorate, did your examiners pick up any errors


I think what you're saying is that someone who is interested merely in the content would not be irritated by errors in the text. I don't believe you have any basis for claiming that the degree of background knowledge has anything to do with it. Your other points have no relevance whatsoever and I don't intend to be dragged into some "you think you're so great" shoving match with you.

No, please read carefully. My point is that my attitude is not a reflection of WESTERN cultural imperialism in desiring correct English. And the parallel does hold -- people who do something professionally, yet don't seem to care enough to do it well, whether a buxiban or a newspaper, are not professionals. The money-making is not the point -- although I believe most of these papers sponsor spin-off English classes, camps, competitions and so forth.

I don't want to make this too personal, but when you did your doctorate, did your examiners pick up any errors


Don't get me wrong. It's entirely laudable and perfectly natural to have a doctorate. Some of my best friends have doctorates.:laughing:

Seriously, what I'm saying is, you're missing the bigger picture, and you should know better. Name a single media organization that doesn't make goofy mistakes with a less than admirable frequency. Does that justify a boycott or a campaign of insults? Indeed, the local rags have a much higher miss rate at times, but that doesn't change my argument. I'm just asking you to get some sense of perspective. I am NOT justifying the repetition of avoidable mistakes. People who I have worked with know that this is the polar opposite of my attitude. So please don't come at me with chabuduo zhuyi. You've railed against enough people already without the slightest awareness of who they are or what they do. Qingsong yidian, haobuhao?

Really, your professors would have pilloried you? Doesn't sound like a very conducive place to creative thinking and intelligent and respectful debate. Everyone makes mistakes, even doctoral students.

I taught at a university once (in an English-speaking country, no less). I found that students were far more receptive to what they were listening to if the teacher combined respect and care with the discipline. Insults and the like tended to have very poor consequences whenever I witnessed it, and this was especially true with adults.

Exactly my question to you. Which is to say, can we not look for the good things on the assumption that for the moment the bad things cannot be immediately eradicated? I'm sure if you pick up copies of the local rags and went through them looking for every possible little mistake, you would find a good number, and congratulations would be due. But that's not why people buy these newspapers, funnily enough, although I suspect that most of the hate squad at Forumosa don't buy them at all


Unlike you, I'm talking about the topic at hand -- the TT -- not you. So anything I have said has nothing to do with you, your work, your professionalism, or anything about you. And anyway, if you want me to have "the slightest awareness of who you are or what you do", posting behind an anonymous moniker might not be the brightest idea, what?

My comment was that the TT, collectively, can't spell and doesn't proofread. That still holds, and I believe that many people on this board agree. You are the only one who has tried to "expand" the argument. If you say that we shouldn't be annoyed that the TT and other English papers in Taiwan have been repeating the same sort of sloppy mistakes since God knows when, then it certainly sounds as though you are justifying the repetition of avoidable mistakes. Spell check. Copy edit. Proofread. Easy, really. Headlines and their fit to article content is another issue, but it is still one covered in the very early days of activities at any high school newspaper.

The patient has a huge scar, but hey, he's alive, so don't complain? I don't think so. :noway: If you want to run an English newspaper, get people who can do journalism properly in English. That includes spelling, grammar, usage and proofreading. It's like having someone show up for a series of job interviews with dirty, wrinkled clothing, veg stuck between his teeth, and monster halitosis. Would you recommend that person be hired without some sort of improvement? If anyone cared about the applicant, they would sit him down and say, "You know, you have some great skills and a wonderful personality, but you really do have to eliminate these little problems before you will be considered as a serious candidate for a job."


You're right, ironlady, I concede. The TT and all the others are a bunch of wannabe newspapers and a waste of paper. They employ abject cretins who are so incompetent and ignorant that even underground English buxibans won't touch them. These imposter employees, Taiwanese and foreigner alike, are ignorant, lazy, careless and care nothing for their jobs or for the readers they pretend to court


Unless you personally work for or own stock in the TT, I am not quite sure where you are coming from. No one said the job applicant didn't have useful skills and a great personality. All we're saying is it's time to get that big piece of lettuce out from between their journalistic teeth.


Sigh. If where I'm coming from isn't already obvious from the above, then I can only withdraw, and let someone with some inside knowledge like timmy take over, if he can be bothered.


I think Ironlady is spot on there. I rarely read The Taipei Times any more and even when I do, I usually skip the features section because it