Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Hillary campaign snubs local Chinese papers

Reporters for two Bay Area Chinese-language newspapers, the World Journal and the Sing Tao Daily, were denied access to a briefing by Sen. Hillary Clinton in San Francisco, according to New American Media, a Web site featuring news coverage by ethnic newspapers.

The report by New America Media's Eugenia Chien said the local reporters were told by Clinton staffers that the briefing Friday at the Sheraton Palace Hotel wasn't open to "foreign press." They got nowhere when they attempted to explain that their papers were local publications.

However, Chien notes that several Chinese media reporters who arrived early were admitted to the briefing.

A couple days beforehand, the Clinton campaign sent out press releases to some local news organizations alerting them to the event and telling local reporters to arrive by 11:45 a.m. However, none of the city's three Chinese dailies got the release, according to the Chroncle.

World Journal reporter Portia Li told the Chron she arrived about 10 minutes before noon. Li said that after she got the "no foreign media" runaround, she produced a business card with a local address. Then a Clinton staffer asked her for two forms of identification, which seemed to Li to be insulting. Li, who has covered news in the Bay Area for two decades, said she had never had to show identification at similar events.

"She kept saying this is only open for local media, not foreign press," Li said. "I told her, 'I'm not foreign press. I'm local media.' I was really angry. It's not about myself. It's about how the mainstream looks at Chinese (people) as a whole. Why do they call us foreigners, even they we have a local address on our business card?"

Sing Tao Daily reporter Ken Hu, another reporter excluded from Friday's briefing, wrote in Saturday's edition of his 65,000-circulation paper that he arrived at noon, when the event was supposed to start. The doors were promptly closed to the press, he wrote, despite the fact that the briefing started more than 20 minutes late. “Compare this to Barack Obama, another Democratic presidential candidate who recently came to San Francisco. The door was wide open (when he visited),” Hu wrote.

The World Journal (also 65,000 circulation), in an editorial Sunday, was even more blunt, saying the Chinese media is owed an apology from Clinton: "Many non-whites are still viewed as foreigners in mainstream society.”

Sen. Clinton appears to have been silent about the gaffe. But campaign spokesman Howard Wolfson did apologize and called the incident a "learning lesson and a learning opportunity," according to the World Journal.

Local journalists who were able to cover the event included Amy Chai of the Ming Pao Daily and Angelina Wong of KTSF Channel 26.

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