Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Why does Phelps apologize to Chinese specially?

Here is a transcript of a 52-second video apology from Phelps to Chinese posted on most major Chinese news portal sites:

  To my Chinese friends,
  As many of you know, I recently engaged in behavior which was regrettable and not what people have come to expect from me.
  The past few days have been tough for me, but I've received support and encouragement online from so many Chinese friends.
  I will learn from these mistakes, train hard, and make you proud again.
  To the young people of China, please learn a lesson from this. Be positive in life, and do the right things.
  I've had so many great experiences in China over the past few years, and have enjoyed learning about your culture and your history.
  But it's the warmth and forgiveness in the messages I've received from China that has really lifted me up over the past few days.
  Thanks again for your support and encouragement. I look forward to returning to China soon.  

The headline of the Chinese news entry translates to "Phelps apologizes to Chinese fans." The content is simply the translation or paraphrase of his statement, saying that he feels deeply remorseful that he failed to be a good model for Chinese youth.

Quite a number of Chinese web users who read this article on the portal sites felt flattered and glad that Phelps respected China and Chinese fans so much. They posted comments on the discussion boards, like "He apologized to Chinese specially because China is the land on which he realized his dream. He has special feelings for her;" "We accept your apology!"

But is it a wishing thinking that Phelps directed his apology at Chinese out of his respect for China? Some liberal Chinese online media raised a question in their headlines: "Why does Phelps apologize to Chinese specially" after issuing a public apology already? Inside the stories, these media pointed out that Phelps had become a hot cake after he took home so many golds from the Games. He had been tagged because of the potential commercial success he could bring. Many Chinese companies or subsidiaries of international companies in China contacted him hoping for his appearance in their commercials or advertisements. This "marijuana" thing hurt his image and might indirectly affect the business of the companies he spoke for. "Half of what motivated him to apologize to China might be the pressure he felt from sponsors while the other half is his sincerity," according to the website of Beijing Communications Radio.

But The New York Times website's headline "Mazda Has Michael Phelps Apologize to China" definitely says something different. Two impressions naturally rose:1) A profit-making company engaged in; 2) Phelps was forced to kowtow to China. Inside the story (, no one from the automaker was interviewed. Not any one was sourced except for Phelps himself and a statement from the automaker that says nothing about the correlation between the apology and the company. The story says, "Mazda apparently decided an apology to the Chinese would suffice. " Is it really so apparent that Phelps was coerced into the apology? Journalists often say "If your mother says she loves you, check it." Therefore, if you think Phelps was manipulated by his sponsor, prove it. Taking it for granted and making the reader do the same is not fair to either the automaker, Phelps, or the reader.

We do not know whether Phelps' apology is wholehearted or halfhearted. We just know we want a fully reported instead of a half-reported story.

No comments:

Post a Comment