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Monthly Archives: December 2012

A day in Gastown

Some pictures I took in Gastown.

For whole set please visit my Flickr page.

 

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Short Interview

This is an Interview between me and Sarah and Sarah will talk about her experience of taking the GMAT exam in 2012 summer.

 

Gangnam Style Flashmob in Robson Square @ DT Van

Gangnam Style Flashmob in Robson Square at Downtown Vancouver

For more image please visit my Flickr Page.

 

 

The Importance of Truth to Journalism Storytelling

storytelling1Journalism storytelling is not like those “once upon a time” we used to hear in bed many years ago, although they can be very similar in some way. For example, despite both telling the same historical events, “Romance of the Three Kingdom” written by Guanzhong Luo in the 14th century is regarded as one of the greatest fictions in China, while “Record of the Three Kingdom” written by Shou Chen in the third century is seen as the official and authoritative historical text about the Three Kingdom period and later Han Dynasty’s history. The most significant difference between the two books is the use of truth, which can be also considered as the boundary line of “literary” and “literary reportage”: “Romance of the Three Kingdom” has many fictitious characters such as Chan Diao and Mao Deng, who do not appear in “Record of the Three Kingdom”. Journalism, as well as journalism storytelling, is more similar to “Record of the Three Kingdom” as they both need to tell the truth without making anything up. There is no doubt that “truth” is the most important aspect to journalism storytelling.

Internet Explorer: Victim of fake news
A news report by PC World Report in August, 2011 indicated that PC users who use Internet Explorer, the internet browser which comes together with Windows, tend to have lower IQ than those who use other internet browsers such as Firefox, Google Chrome and Opera. The result was published by a Canadian company called AptiQuant Psychometric Consulting Co., who claimed that they have more than 100,000 candidates who took the online IQ test. They invited users to take their test through advertising links on other websites and made a note of which browser each user was using to make the ranking (Newman, 2011). This story was also reported by many other high profile news agents such as CBC, CNN, and BBC.
This story was quite convincing at the moment. Most people believed it for three reasons. First of all, the survey was claimed to be based on a large amount of testers, and the method that AptiQuant used sounds very effective: The amount of participating testers was more than 100,000, and they came from different channels as they clicked different advertisements on different websites; also, AptiQuant did not ask the users which browser they were using but collected the data in the background so that users were unable to lie about it. Secondly, the statement that AptiQuant made fits most people’s common understanding: using one thing is stupid, using another thing is smart. This is similar to the everlasting iPhone vs. Android debate, where people argue if it is smarter to use iPhone or Android, and this debate continues even to the present days (Elite Daily, n.d.). Last but not least, Microsoft, who make Internet Explorer, did not put as much effort in promoting their own browsers than other companies such as Google who make Chrome and Mozilla who make Firefox as they believed that people have to use their browser because it is built in; yet people who were affected by the advertisements other companies made believed that using other internet browsers which comes with more features will also make them smarter.
However, the news story turned out to be a hoax. BBC news made a research on AptiQuant and found out that the company’s website was only built for a month. Moreover, the thumbnails of the company’s staffs were found identical to the ones of a Company called Central Test, which was also a psychometric testing company (BBC News, 2011). Some experts also raised their concerns towards this survey result. ZDNet expert Zack Whittaker claimed that collecting more than 100,000 candidates was a very difficult task on the Internet, and finding something meaningful from such large quantity of data would even take years (Whittaker, 2011).
The Fake News incident eventually went to an end, but the impact it brought afterwards was bigger than people predicted. Only three months after the browser hoax, a study by Ars in November, 2011 showed that web usage of Internet Explorer had dropped below 50%. It is worth noting that Internet Explorer dropped an outstanding 1.76 percent market share in two months from September while its drop rate was much lower in other period (Bright, 2011). Despite still retaining a majority of the market share, Internet Explorer is losing users rapidly, not only because of its lack of creativity and features, but also because of the browsers hoax which made a huge hit on it. Despite clarifications were made shortly after the hoax, a lot of former users of Internet Explorer decided to turn to other browsers which would make them “smarter”. In this case, Internet Explorer became the biggest victim of the hoax.

Tom Henning Ovrebo: Victim of a wrong storytelling
Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel suggest that journalism’s first obligation is to the truth, and when the journalists was interviewed for a survey asking what “truth” means, 100 percent of them answered “getting the facts right” (Kovach & Rosenstiel, p.36). Therefore, it is meant that we not only need to tell the facts, but to tell them in the right way.
Tom Henning Ovrebo, a psychologist, also a Norwegian soccer referee, was one of the victims from a wrong way of storytelling. He was famous for making many controversy decisions in many important soccer matches, and the most famous one was the UEFA Champion League semi-final second leg between Chelsea and Barcelona, which he turned down four penalty appeals by Chelsea. Chelsea players were enraged that Ovrebo ignored a foul by Daniel Alves on Florent Malouda, followed by a tug on Didier Drogba by Eric Abidal, as well as two handballs by Barcelona players inside the penalty area. The match was out of control for a time and players of both teams played roughly and brutishly. After the match, despite Ovrebo told UEFA match representative that he made “significant mistakes”, members in Chelsea team all raged at Ovrebo about his referral performance (Fifield and Lawrance, 2009).
article-2148161-04D5E7C9000005DC-557_634x433The match became the headline on sports page of all news agents very soon, and all the speeches and opinions turned against Ovrebo. Almost all media expressed their compassion towards Chelsea and harshly criticism towards Ovrebo (Soccernet, 2009). As a result, Ovrebo received a death threat the very next day and his home address in Oslo, Norway was also published. In 2010, after failing in entering the final referee list of South Africa World Cup, he decided to end his international career and only continues in the Norwegian Premier League in order to escape from the harassment. But even till now, he still receives abusive emails from Chelsea fans (Wilson, 2012).
Ovrebo’s end was a tragedy made by the media. Instead of focusing on the mistakes made by the referee, the topic of how to improve the integrity of the match is more worth concerning. FIFA has urged more than one time to introduce technologies such as eagle eyes into soccer to help with referee’s job, and they also suggest having more linesmen into the match to reduce misjudgements. FIFA President Joseph Blatter claimed that July 5 2012 was historical as FIFA promised to bring goal-line technology into 2016 Brazil World Cup; FIFA also looked forward to introducing more technology which helps the fairness of the game (fifa.com, 2012). He also claimed that many misjudgements happened due to the limitation of human eyes, and that referees were not supposed to be the ones to be blamed.

Truth: Tell the fact, and tell it right
As mentioned earlier, journalism’s first obligation is to the truth. Microsoft lost millions of dollars because of the browser hoax, and Ovrebo lost his career and his safety was put in danger due to the wrong direction of reports by the media. These examples are countless and they all prove one thing: truth is the most important aspect in journalism storytelling.
Back to the basic, journalists work for the public, and they must report the truth to gain the public’s trust; it is meaningless for journalists if their publications were not accepted by the public. One of the good ways to avoid reporting false information is to uncover as much information as possible; the more information a journalist uncovers, the less he will feel like to fill the unknown block. Ultimately, journalism is to tell the truth instead of catching people’s eyes with some bogus sparkle to attract interests.

References
Newman, J. (2011, July 29). Internet Explorer Users Are Kinda Stupid, Study Suggests. Retrieved from http://www.pcworld.com/article/236944/internet_explorer_users_are_kinda_stupid_study_suggests.html
Elite Daily (n.d.). The Great Debate: iPhone Vs. Android. Retrieved October 28,2012 from http://elitedaily.com/elite/2012/great-debate-iphone-drod/
BBC News (2011, August 3). Internet Explorer Story was Bogus. Retrieved from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-14370878
Whittaker, Z. (2011, August 3). Internet Explorer users ‘stupid’: Story was a hoax. Retrieved from http://www.zdnet.com/blog/btl/internet-explorer-users-stupid-story-was-a-hoax/53845
Bright, P. (2011, November 2). The end of an era: Internet Explorer drops below 50% of Web usage. Retrieved from http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2011/11/the-end-of-an-era-internet-explorer-drops-below-50-percent-of-web-usage/
Kovach, B. & Rosenstiel, T. (2007). The Elements of Journalism. New York, NY: Three Rivers Press.
Fifield, D. & Lawrance A. (2009, May 7). Chelsea rage at referee for not giving them four penalties. Retrieved from http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2009/may/07/chelsea-barcelona-referee-penalties-hiddink-terry
Soccernet (2009, May 6). Hiddink fumes at Norwegian referee’s display. Retrieved from http://soccernet.espn.go.com/news/story?id=643931&sec=uefachampionsleague&cc=5901
Wilson, J. (2012, April 6). Referee at centre of Barcelona controversy still receiving abusive emails from Chelsea fans. Retrieved from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/teams/chelsea/9189650/Referee-at-centre-of-Barcelona-controversy-still-receiving-abusive-emails-from-Chelsea-fans.html
Fifa.com (2012, July 5). Blatter: Technology’s time has come. Retrieved from http://www.fifa.com/aboutfifa/organisation/marketing/qualityprogramme/news/newsid=1660614/index.html

Should Women Stay or Not: How TV Shows Expressed Different Opinions towards Social Changes

I will explore the ways course material has reinforce my belief about cultural value in North American society during the 1960s, and the role of entertainment television in social change. I will describe how reflecting on these ideas has confirmed my attitudes about society at that time, and my understanding of the relationship between entertainment television and social change.
The 1960s is a period of time when a great amount of social changes took place. During this time, the Americans realized the improvements of women’s status, witnessed the assassination of President Kennedy, saw gay people’s rebellion, touched by Martin Luther King and experienced the power of the African American. The social changes influenced the TV industry so deeply; as a result, the 1960s’ TV shows reflected social changes more than any other eras do. However, despite causing great repercussions in reality, most of the social changes were not accepted by the public. Most people held the old values from the 1950s and many TV producers expressed their opinions through TV programs, although some others also encourage new changes and evolutions in other shows. I am going to discuss how different TV shows reflected different opinions towards women’s rights movement during that time.
bewitched10Bewitched is an outstanding shows that reflected but rejected the influence of the beginning of women’s rights movement in the 1960s. This show was once as high as number two in the rating and it was one of the 50 best TV shows of all time in a ranking made by TV Guide in 2002 (The Associate Press, 2009). The show tells the story of a powerful witch called Samantha who married a mortal man named Darrin Stephens, and she tried to hide all her power and be a regular housewife. The concept of the show is very contradictory. Despite it gives the implied message that “women must ‘curb their power’ to be accepted into conventional society”, the theme of the show reflected the beginning of the women’s movements in the 1960s, which demanded more power and respect for women (Stark, 1997).
One of the episodes that reflected the ideology of Bewitched was the episode “Divided He Falls” in season two. In the beginning of the episode, Samantha was waiting for her husband to come home and her mother Endora teleported to Samantha’s home with magic. Samantha told Endora that she was going to a dinner dance at the country club in the evening with her “prince charming” Darrin. However, Endora expressed her scorn and asked Samantha what she really saw in him. Endora then casted magic and turn Darrin into a peasant then into Don Quixote and said those were what she saw him as. Samantha then used her magic and turned Darrin back into normal and claimed that was what she saw he is (mtwini09, 2011). It is very interesting to see two similar women holding opposite opinions towards one man.
In fact, Samantha’s choice of marrying into a normal life with a mortal husband was questioned in many scenes and episodes, and most of these questions were asked by Endora, Samantha’s mother. One of the criticisms about this show was that it disobeyed the spirit of the women’s rights movements. Considering the society environment, Samantha represented those women who were educated and had the capability to find a job or even own a career. Yet the show encouraged those women to “choose” their lives to be a regular housewife like Samantha did in the show (Napikoski, n.d.). Also, the show portrayed Endora as an evil instigator who always tried to pull Samantha back to the world the immortals should be. This show obviously denied the women’s rights movement and hoped to lock the women home as long as it can.
As a contrast, Julia was an epochal show that definitely reflected and advocated the social changes in the North American society. It was not very popular in that time as its highest ranking among the three seasons is seven. However, it is the very first TV show that casted an African American woman as the leading role, and it was also broadcasted from 1968, the year Martin Luther King was killed. Given so many special meanings, Julia soon became the focus of people’s eyes; yet many people focus on its impact towards civil rights movement for black people and ignore its influence towards women’s right movement.
The TV show Julia tells the story of Julia Baker, a black widowed single mother who works in a doctor’s clinic and carries a six-year-old son. Despite the fact that Julia is black, her having a job and living middle class life was criticized as unrealistic as most black people in the ‘60s still lived in poverty. Diahann Carroll who played the role Julia Baker talked about the show and said “At the moment we’re presenting the white Negro. And he has very little Negroness” (Morreale, 2003). However, looking at the feminism side of the show, the show Julia did send out a very positive message to the society: a woman can persuade a career, support her family without a man, living a middle-class life and find her own love. Broadcasted in the later ‘60s, Julia was a show that expressed an opposite opinion reflecting the social changes compare to Bewitched.
The episode “I’m Dreaming of a Black Christmas” was one of the most favorite episodes from Julia. In this episode, Julia Baker’s son Corey kept arguing with different people if Santa Clause is white or black. The episode was famous because it involved one of the hot topics of the time – civil right. However, the entire episode demonstrated Julia and her son having Christmas in the same way as many other middle class family despite Julia not having a husband. In the end of the show, one of Julia’s admirers dressed up as Santa Clause and came to Julia’s home to celebrate Christmas with her family; later on, Uncle Lou, Julia’s uncle, also came as Santa (2nicks, 2010). The whole episode, as well as most of the show, presented a single-mothered family which did not suffer from hunger or poverty because the mother was a professional woman who owned a career. Despite the effort from the TV show Julia of presenting civil rights issues drew wide criticism, the image of a professional single mother it portrayed was unexpectedly successful.julia-show
Therefore, although Bewitched and Julia were both milestone TV shows in the ‘60s, they stood for two complete opposite points of view towards women’s right movement. Bewitched was more conservative and it suggested women should stay home and be the perfect housewife instead of go out of home and work. In contrast, Julia told the public, especially woman, that it is ok not to be a housewife or even ok to live alone with a son without a husband; as long as she has her own career, she can also have a wonderful life.
Nevertheless, Bewitched was way more popular than Julia in the ‘60s. Bewitched was on air for eight seasons with highest ranking number two, while Julia was on air for only three season with highest ranking seven. There can be many reasons for this difference such as scripts and directors, but audience acceptance is a reason that cannot be ignored. Coming right after the 1950s, the 1960s was still a period when most people held the old value in the 1950s that women should not work but be housewives at home. It took some more years for more people to realize that women can also have their own career, thus in the 1970s the TV show The Mary Tyler Moore Show, which was similar to Julia and portrayed a single professional woman, made a great success.
Therefore, it takes time for people to accept different social changes, some takes less time and some takes more. In 1968, Martin Luther King was killed for initiating the civil right movement; and only 40 years later, Barack Obama became the very first black president of the US. However, in present days, some controversy topics are still quite sensitive to TV industry. For instance, despite the stonewall riot happened in 1969 represented a fight back from gay and lesbian people, homosexual issue is still not accepted by many people nowadays, and there are not many TV programs that advocate gay rights.

Reference
The Associate Press. (2009, February 11). TV Guide Names Top 50 Shows. CBS News. Retrieved from http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2002/04/26/entertainment/main507388.shtml
Stark, S. (1997). Glued to the Set: the 60 television shows and event that made us who we are today. New York: Bell Publishing.
mtwini09. (2011, January 9). Bewitched: Divided He Falls 2.31 [Video File]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BH-Ov0jhgs0
Napikoski, L. (n.d.). The Feminism of “Bewitched”: Finding the Feminism in 1960s Sitcoms. About.com. Retrieved November 20, 2012, from http://womenshistory.about.com/od/feminismandpopculture/a/Feminism-Bewitched-Sitcoms.htm
Morreale, J. (2003). Critiquing The Sitcom. Syracuse, New York: Syracuse University Press.
2nicks. (2010, February 8). Julia Starring Diahann Carrollin in I’m Dreaming Of A Black Christmas 1968 Part 3 Of 3 [Video File]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K7u71TFLjJQ

The modern Cinderella: How a girl found her way out of domestic violence

It was a warm summer evening. The clock on the wall showed that it was quarter to six. Remy Wan was putting away the kitchen knife and chopping board as she had just finished preparing the materials for dinner.
Just then she heard someone turning the lock. It was her mother Zhang Chen.
“Remy,” Chen yelled to Wan as she walked into the dining room, “why isn’t dinner ready yet? What have you been doing?”
“I’ve been preparing all this time,” Wan argued.
“I told you I’m coming home at six and I want dinner ready by then,” Chen was getting angry.
“But mom”, said Wan, “you are home early.”
Whack!
Chen slapped Wan hard on the face. “How dare you argue with me? Go cook right away! I need to eat dinner!”
Wan covered her cheek with her left hand, and not a single tear fell from her eyes. Knowing that it was useless to argue, she walked back into the kitchen and turned on the electric stove.
Seeing the remaining water on the pan evaporating, she knew it was hot enough to pour the cooking oil. All of a sudden, Chen rushed into the kitchen, grabbed Wan’s wrist, and pushed her hand onto the burning hot stove.
“How dare you! How dare you!” Chen yelled as she held Wan’s hand on the element for what seemed like forever. Finally, Wan broke away with all her strength.
“No dinner for you tonight,” shouted Chen, “Now hurry and cook! I am hungry!” Chen slammed the kitchen door, leaving Wan crying, kneeling on the floor.
This was just one of the days of suffering endured by Wan in the first 18 years of her life.
Wan had suffered from domestic violence since she was born. The violence mainly came from her mother. The fact that Wan was not a boy not only lowered Chen’s status in the family, but also took away the love Wan wished her mother had given her.
Wan was born in a small town called Humen in the southern part of Guangdong, China. The concept of carrying on the family line is very important in Chinese culture, so naturally her birth was not celebrated like that of many baby boys, as her parents knew that their grandchildren would no longer carry the name Wan. Also, Wan’s parents believed that sons can not only carry on the family line, but can also create wealth and take care of their parents when they are older, while daughters eventually become part of their husbands’ families when they are married. These impacts, along with the one child policy in China, were maximized and reinforced the preference for sons among Chinese parents.
As early as Wan could remember, her family was wealthy and owned a big house, with several servants taking care of them. Her father was a successful businessman who had become rich from a shrimp sauce business. But as his business began to prosper, he had to go on more and more business trips and returned home less often, leaving Wan and her mother Chen alone in the house. When Wan was six years old, Chen dismissed the last servant and ordered Wan to do all the housework the servants used to do.
From that day, Wan lived her life like Cinderella who hadn’t met the kind-hearted fairy yet. After getting up at six in the morning, she had to spend the whole morning wiping every square foot of the floor in the three story house; next she hand-washed all the dirty clothes from the previous night as Chen didn’t allow her to use the washing machine. Later on she needed to do grocery shopping and make dinner, not to mention the dish washing afterwards.
“I had to do everything,” Wan said.
According to a 2010 study by the Changsha Domestic Violence Prevention Group, a governmental research group in Changsha, China, almost 80% of the girls from urban families in Hunan Province, China, suffer domestic violence to varying degrees; this number increases to an unbelievable 96% in rural areas in the province.
The study also indicates a very significant sex imbalance of newborn infants in China. In 2010, for every 100 boys born, there were 95 new baby girls in the world. However, in China, there were much fewer girls than boys. For every 100 boys, there were only 85 girls in China; in Guangdong Province where Wan was born, for every 100 boys, there were only as few as 77 girls.
“The term ‘gendercide’ refers to the systematic elimination of a gender group,” said Evan Grae Davis, a filmmaker and a director. “The UN estimates there are as many as two hundred millions missing women in the world today due to gendercide.”
Davis recently made a documentary called “It’s a Girl” to explore gendercide issues in China and India. He visited the two countries in order to do some interviews and he was surprised to find out that the local women were not only oppressed but also feel awkward and frightened to talk about how badly they were being treated. In China and India, many girls who survive from gendercide suffer from different levels of violence like Wan.
At the age of eight, Wan immigrated to Canada with her family. The Wan family bought a new house in Richmond and found an elementary school for Wan. During the first month after her arrival in Canada, Chen took Wan to many places to settle everything for their new life, and Wan didn’t have to do any housework. For a time, she thought her life had finally changed.
But she was wrong.
After everything was settled, Wan’s father returned to China for business, and Chen simply wanted Wan to do more than she could. School had taken some of Wan’s time, but she was still forced to do all the housework she used to do after school.
“I once got beaten because my mother wanted me to translate a government document, but I couldn’t,” Wan said. “I had been here for only two months and I could barely speak any English at that time.”
Bad news has wings. Although Wan didn’t tell anyone, the fact that she suffered from domestic violence spread very fast and brought in some social workers to her home. But the social workers’ visits simply made things worse. Wan always got beaten after each visit and she ended up in hospital two times, both for broken bones. Wan didn’t know who could help her.
“Slippers, brooms, belts, forks…she just used everything she could handle to beat me.”
Seema Ahluwalia is a sociologist in Kwantlen Polytechnic University who has spent years studying violence against women in Canada. She points out that women suffer all kinds of unfairness and violence even in developed countries like Canada.
“The government really needs to do more than just stepping in after the damage has been done,” said Ahluwalia. “Shelters and women’s centres are barely enough. Measures should be taken to prevent such things from happening.”
Wan tried to run away from home several times. She hid in friends’ houses and also looked for women’s shelters; she even slept under a skytrain station once. But she was sent home time after time, and got beaten every time by her furious mother. On the last time when Wan was brought home by a social worker, she was told that she couldn’t leave home and live alone until she was 18 years old.
Therefore, on Wan’s 16th birthday, she made a decision that changed her life.
She would leave home as soon as she turned 18.
During the next two years, Wan didn’t run away anymore and didn’t even argue with her mother. She was treated even worse than before as her mom mauled her almost every day. However, she was not afraid anymore, for she knew she could rescue herself.
Despite many girls suffering from domestic violence like Wan in India and China, very few of them have the courage Wan has to resist and escape. On her 18th birthday, she carried two pieces of luggage with only her clothes, and moved in with her friend temporarily. She moved out and rented her own apartment two months later.
“Those two months,” said Wan, “were the best time in my life ever.”
Wan’s life completely changed. After she left home, she went to beauty school and completed her International diploma. She did have some financial difficulties when she first moved out as she needed to make her living at the minimum wage, but that was nothing compare to the agony she had been suffering. After several years of perseverance, she now works as a laser technician in a downtown beauty salon, and she also has a boyfriend who loves her. Sometimes she wanders on Columbia Street in Vancouver, where there are a lot of bridal shops, and dreams of the day she will get married.
She still thinks of her mother, from time to time, but the memory only makes her frightened and tremble; her mother Chen didn’t leave her a single good memory. For all these years she only went back home and visited Chen once.
“Once I saw her in the mall from a distance, I pulled up my hoodie and ran away immediately.”
However, when thinking of her future, everything becomes brighter.
“When I have a baby, I hope it can be a girl,” Wan said. “I will love her with all my heart, and give her everything I can.”
“I will be the best mother in the world.”

Finding Love