The real story we should be talking about with Sarah Jeong

Whether you think what she said on Twitter was racist against white people or not, she’s repudiated it and promises not to do it again.

But there’s what I consider a more important story about her. And I don’t think it should be pushed out of the spotlight by this other crap.

Basically, a Chinese woman’s life was harmed because of VICE Magazine reneging on an agreement, and Sarah Jeong was called in to ridicule it as a knowledgeable woman of color.

I’m not sure I’m getting the full weight of it, so I’ll just link the story.

She actually makes a valid case for why Jeong should not be at the NYT that has nothing to do with anti-white racism. No, she shows an utter disregard for how her reporting can harm real people in dangerous areas.

She pretends she knows that something is no big deal in China because it’s no big deal in South Korea. She pretends an agreement with VICE didn’t exist.

Huh, interesting. Wu’s Medium post (the article you linked to) does paint Wu as a victim. The basics for anyone who doesn’t want to read it:

[ul]
[li]- Naomi Wu is a native of mainland China, and still lives there.[/li][li]- Wu considers herself to be a big nerd and makes, basically, cool tech videos of her Maker projects, which she posts to YouTube via an illegal VPN from her home in China, as YouTube itself is blocked in China.[/li][li]- Vice media approached Wu to do a news story about her, or about women in China in tech (sorry, fuzzy details)[/li][li]- Wu agreed to be interviewed, and explicitly asked the editor to leave out any details of her sex life and relationships. She said the culture and government in China could pose a problem to her safety and well-being if some details were exposed. The Vice editor agreed to protect her privacy and acknowledged the difference between Chinese and western freedoms. [/li][li]- The interviewer spent 3 days with Wu in China.[/li][li]- When the interviewer returned from China, they began asking Wu about her personal relationships and sex life, in response to rumors being spread on 4Chan. From what I can tell, the accusations were that she was merely a face for a white guy technician and she had no tech skills of her own.[/li][li]- Wu was pissed about this, wanting Vice to avoid asking her who she slept with and how a woman can do tech in China. She says that interracial relationships are a no-no in mainland China, and so is a feminist perspective. Answering these questions - that she had asked them to avoid - could make big trouble for her in China. She also points out that these are things male DIYers are not asked.[/li][li]- Wu plead some more with an editor-in-chief at Vice to no avail. In retaliation, she added his name and address to, what she says, a small, quick, blip in a DIY video she released, effectively “doxxing” him.[/li][li]- Vice got her YouTube channel shut down over this, and her Patreon account and removed her source of income. [/li][li]- Sarah Jeong, who is friends with the aforementioned editor-in-chief and works for Vice, posted on Twitter about this controversy “There’s a ton of white men telling me that there’s a cultural sensitivity issue here or that it’s dangerous (lol) to have a white husband. I did a sanity check with a woman who’s a Chinese national. It’s not far off from Korean culture: this is a non-issue, y’all are gullible”[/li][li]- Wu is like “WTF? What do you know? Are you serious?” And then I guess she wrote that Medium piece.[/li][/ul]

It’s kind of a long road to get to Sarah Jeong but ultimately it does show a level of haughtiness and insensitivity. And unprofessionalism that you don’t want to see in the NYT.

There’s actually two interesting Twitter threads to check out if you want to see Jeong’s perspective (this is the thread where she wrote what I quoted above) and the opinion of a third party, Jackie Luo.

I dunno if this is exactly the one and only thing people should be talking about with regards to Sarah Jeong. I think we can put all of her “transgressions” together to form an opinion. But it is an interesting story nonetheless.

It also appears that Jeong made a fool of herself when the University of Virginia rape hoax was exposed. Attempting to rescue a social justice narrative about the “victim” without regard for facts and evidence does not speak well to her credibility as a journalist, unless there has been a postmodernist coup at the Times that I haven’t noticed.

I don’t really have an opinion on the racism accusations against her, but I’m getting the picture that Sarah Jeong is kind of a jerk.

But then again, I’d say journalists overall tend toward the jerkish side of the spectrum.

That’s an interesting read, thanks for sharing it!

Yes. It’s an unfortunate “test case” for the court of public opinion. The original underlying reasons of principle that she shouldn’t be fired, and the more general debate of principle about social justice rhetoric, are just going to get buried in the mess if it turns out there are real reasons she shouldn’t be in this job.

With an additional twist if it turns out that these previous escapades were brought to light by right wing concern trolls like the recently-fired director.

Yes, this is why a narrow shoot-the-messenger defense “don’t listen to these alt-right trolls” is such a poor one. Sure, dismiss the alt-right narrative, but you really can’t be dismissive about the underlying facts, you have to address them on their merits. Otherwise, if it turns out the messengers are actually correct in their conclusions, it makes you look dishonest and foolish, and it gives credibility to their false narrative too.

This might very well be true.

Well this is a pretty jerkish thing to say. Having spent my career around journalists I don’t find there to be any serious disproportionality regarding jerks in journalism.

Unless your working definition of “journalist” is pretty much just TV reporters, anchors, and “analysts.”

I’ve read her story a couple of times, and the original Vice article, but I still can’t figure out what was so bad about the original article that her life was harmed.

Sure, YMMV. And I’m certainly not saying all journalists are jerks, by any means. But just so you know where I’m coming from, just some behavior I’ve noticed recently:

  • Certain reporters who have a take on a story and will simply disregard things that undermine that storyline
  • Aggressive treatment towards those they want to talk to (I had a neighbor of mine who had a call at work from a reporter, and the neighbor told the reporter s/he was not authorized to talk to the press. So the reporter found this person’s address and went to their home at night, uninvited, to try to interview the person. That didn’t go well.)
  • Stated threats that if someone doesn’t contribute to a story, they will make it look bad for those who didn’t contribute to it.

Now, I’m not trashing the profession of journalism. Far from it. It’s vital to our country. But in my opinion, sometimes the idea of serving the greater good is accomplished by treating some people in poor ways. And from my very, very shallow look at Jeong’s statements, it sure seems like she’s quite willing to be quite abrasive at times.

It could be part of her chosen profession, or it could also be that she was fairly young when some of these things were written, and maybe she’s learned from that (as she said she has with respect to the counter-trolling stuff).

ETA: do I remember right that you had some association with newspapers?

Wu’s reaction wasn’t to the final story it was to follow-up questions, which she assumed would then lead to stuff being published that she didn’t want (they were asking her about stuff she had told them she didn’t want to talk about - they asked and she got mad).

Her reaction is actually recorded in the Vice article. It’s a super long article and the reaction part is oddly placed sort of near the end but also is followed by more story without mention. It’s awkward. The text is above the final photo in the article:

I can follow this shit just enough to be certain that I don’t like any of these people.

Yes, I read the article. It seems she got super pissed just for being ASKED about the stuff and started tweet bad things about the reporter and Vice and whatever. Just for being asked. Seems strange to me.

Do you see how listing specific instances in which a journalist might have acted like a jerk doesn’t in any way support the proposition that “journalists overall tend toward the jerkish side of the spectrum”?

My only contact with this story is indirect and from a different source, but it seems that one of the problems was that the maker community is full of the same kinds of jerks that make life difficult for women in the gaming communities.

As such, anything that mentions that she is (a) as woman, and (b) has a life, and © is better than you are in spite of (a) and (b), sets her up as a target, and destroys her ability to get ahead and benefit.

No. No more than your experience is sufficient support the proposition that journalists are just like everyone else.

I’d say that my experience of journalists is a hell of a lot closer to a valid sample than yours, so, yes, my experience is in the ballpark of some kind of proof for my proposition whereas yours doesn’t even get into the parking lot of the stadium for yours.

fuck journalists lol :slight_smile:

The incident is the kind of nitpicky bullshit that nobody would even give half a second to if they weren’t already talking about Sandra Jeong’s tweets.

Seriously. “One time someone called on Sandra Jeong to give her opinion in a contentious situation she didn’t actually know anything about. And guess what! She gave a half-assed crappy response!”

Also, it’s simply hilarious that the original reporter couldn’t find any actual people who’d lived in China to ask their question of, so they’re reduced to asking the first person with an Asian face they can see, who ALSO has no idea AND doesn’t know any Chinese people to ask so she has to ask a Korean! Isn’t ‘finding people who know stuff and asking them questions about it’ what journalism actually does? You’d get a better response posting a question on this freaking board! It’s like “Oh, Bob - your mum was born in Bristol - what do English people think of interracial marriages?” “Um … fuck if I know - but hey! One of my Facebook friends lives in Paris! He says blah blah blah - close enough, right?”