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Monday, August 4, 2008

The New York Times blows a confidential source in a story about the Uighur, a Muslim minority the Chinese government has tried to quash, for fear of terrorist attacks at the summer Olympics. Apparently they've done so with all the success of their hope-it'll-blow-away approach to their deadly smog, and the Uighur are understandably pissed.

I'll let Adam Minter, an American writer based in Shanghai, take it from here:
One day, a researcher from the New York Times shows up and asks if you’d be willing to talk about the harassment you’ve been receiving from the local government. You know better, of course, than to talk to those shady foreign journalists (especially about minority affairs and anything negative about the Olympics), but the situation has become so intolerable that you agree to make a few comments on the condition that the New York Times not identify you. A few days later, the article appears online, with this paragraph:

The owner of the Xinjiang Kashgar Restaurant near the main Olympic venue said he shut down Tuesday after repeated visits from officials who cited health concerns. He said several other Muslim restaurants nearby had received similar visits. The owner, a Uighur, spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear that he would be further harassed by the authorities.

You think those "authorities" won't know how to find him now? Shoot, why not include his cell phone number and address?

This is such lazy journalism (from the writer to the editors), and the NYT should do more than send that restaurant owner an apology.

They should pay for his security.

(Hat tip: James Fallows.)


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