A few weeks ago, Shanghaiist spoke out against a nitwit AP writer who penned a story about absolutely nothing (and not in the Seinfeld “good nothing” kind of way). Well, our friend at the AP seems to have resurfaced, this time in Shanghai, writing for our city’s finest English language newspaper, Shanghai Daily, under the assumed name “Yuan Qi”. Alright, we admit, this sounds a bit far-fetched. But, we did spot a story that reeked of his style.
In an article titled “Pudgy student breaks leg as bike seat snaps“, readers were told the story of an overweight young man who collapsed his bike on the way to school, broke his leg, went to the hospital, may or may not walk again for a while, may or may not file a lawsuit against the bicycle manufacturer — finito! No theme of a young man overcoming obesity, no warning to kids against unhealthy dietary habits and no mentioning of any relevant policy initiative in a social or a legislative context — nada! Just a plain ol’ story about a random fat kid falling of his bike on his way to school. If one were to press for a highlight in the piece, that’d be the mother recounting the whole ordeal saying, “It’s a heavy burden for our family”. We think she meant the 20,000 kuai hospital bill … maybe.
Why is this news? The article seems far better suited for The Onion, an American satire publication, than a major newspaper with 85,000 daily circulation and thousands more readers online worldwide.
We lashed out at the AP guy because he was narrow-minded and unprofessional to have written his “nightmare in Taiyuan” story. Sure, there’s a little bit of that here. But far more importantly, we say this because we care. Shanghaiist like reading Shanghai Daily, probably more than we should admit to. From unruly jaywalkers to women with tight bras, the paper does a commendable job of sifting through otherwise mundane, if not boring, material and turning them into relevant, informative and interesting, albeit somewhat quirky, news articles (this piece notwithstanding). We have even grown to love the paper’s somewhat lacking English writing proficiency. When was the last time you saw “Body parts accidentally thrown out” as a headline in the NY Times? Shanghaiist sincerely hopes that this article is just a blip on Shanghai Daily’s road to greater glory, rather than an ominous sign of more of the same to come.
P.S. Perhaps you are thinking we are above a story like “fat kid falling off his bike”. Nah, we really just wanted a video clip. That would have been soooooooo funny.
P.P.S If a writer thinks calling an overweight kid “fat” is a bit harsh, then labeling him “pudgy” isn’t going to win the writer any congeniality points, either. Just a thought.