Taiwan newspaper Lih Pao fired a reporter for making up a story claiming a “diner owner” wouldn’t “sell boxed lunches to two men after discovering that they were Filipinos,” Agence France Presse reported. The fake story went on to claim that the owner said the Filipinos were “dogs” and that the reporter confronted the owner over his actions.
According to the Taipei Times, Four Way Voice editor-in-chief Chang Cheng offered more information about what went wrong and admitted himself to being “deceived.” Four Way Voice is identified as a “sister newspaper” to Lih Pao.
What Chang said happened was Cheng, the reporter, “heard” about the story and then posted about it on Facebook as if he had been there.
It’s unclear if the fake story was ever actually published by Lih Pao; news reports indicate that the fake story was only posted by reporter Cheng on Facebook. iMediaEthics has written to Lih Pao, though, asking about this and will update with any response.
Chang wanted to follow up on Cheng’s story, but when Chang went to interview the restaurant owner, “a friend of” the owner’s posed as him, Chang said at a press conference, according to the Taipei Times.
Because of the fakery, editor Chang said he decided to resign. “I deeply regret Cheng’s dishonesty and I apologize for my failure to recognize that the story was false,” Chang is quoted as saying.
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The newspaper also apologized, calling Cheng’s action’s “deceit.”
“We apologise to the public. Even though we tried to verify the story, we regrettably could not avoid such a deliberate deceit happening,” the newspaper is quoted as saying. The apology statement appears to be posted here on Lih Pao’s Facebook. A Bing Translate of the May 21 statement was very rough but indicated that the statement was about the fake story and that the paper apologized for the deception.
But losing his job isn’t the only consequence for the reporter, Cheng. According to the Taipei Times, Cheng has been charged by the police over his fake Facebook post and could end up in jail for a few days and have to pay a fine. He was charged “with violating the Social Order Maintenance Act, which prohibits the spreading of rumors that cause a public disturbance.”
The fake story came in the midst of “anti-Manila sentiment,” according to Agence France Presse.
Recently, Taiwan fisherman Hung Shih-cheng “was shot dead” by a Philippines-owned “coastguard vessel,” according to the BBC. Taiwan”s president Ma Ying-jeou has said the fisherman was killed in “cold-blooded murder,” the AFP added.
Taiwan wants an apology and an investigation from The Phillipines. According to the AFP, “Taiwan has announced a series of economic sanctions against The Philippines, demanding Manila offer a formal government apology and compensation for the fisherman’s family, and launch a joint investigation into the incident.”