10 August 2010

Know this Hi-Tech Village through CNNGo.com

This Village can be somewhat confusing for expats. Our own Wesley confessed that he still has loads to learn about the locals through our Pub talks after almost a year here. One obstacle to our expats knowing this Village better, I think, is the fact that we have very limited, if not useless, English media. South China Morning Post almost always has hard news only. They report a lot of local politics, which can be very specific and difficult to understand even for some locals. Hard issues like the political reform in this Village could mean very little to these expats; most of them might not even be here long enough to witness the CE election in 2017. The Standard, the only free English tabloid in this Village, has very little and superficial coverage on local happenings. Echoing the BigLychee.com, the Standard is an English pro-establishment mouthpiece, with the fictitious shoeshiner Mary Ma feeding the paper with ridiculously ass-kissing editorials. With about 10 feeds daily at the local news section, RTHK English news is simply hopeless in another way.

Out of nowhere came the CNNGo.com site, an interactive online service operated by the great news network CNN. Their Asia edition is in beta, or pilot, or whatever that implies they have the right to suck. Obviously, the site targets confused gweilos like Wesley; possibly seeing how abortive our local English media are, they said they're "the ultimate insider guide to Asia's greatest cities". So we expect some in depth and insider coverage on what the expats really care, which would fill the gap between the hard news of SCMP and the non-news of the Standard. Below I read the eight informative articles from CNNGo that even locals like me cannot afford to miss.

1. Five unforgettable shopping malls

Ok, they talked about the five most eccentric shopping malls in Hong Kong. To start with, Megabox was not the newest shopping mall in Hong Kong at the time, Chris, as rightly pointed out by the commenter there. Megabox opened on 1 June 2007; another major shopping mall above Kowloon station called Elements opened on 1 October 2007. Ok, at the time of posting (29 April 2010) these facts might be a bit old for Chris to remember, but what about iSQUARE that opened on 16 December 2009? I don't know if Chris or the editor of the site should be blamed, but amateurs like me could always get these facts through Google within 0.20 second.

Reading further, I do not know how eccentric these malls are really. For instance, there're dozens of malls around the Village look almost the same as Argyle Centre, selling basically the same stuff all over. Going through the article, it takes no Sherlock Holmes to tell that the article could be a product of Chris' causal stroll in Mongkok in a random afternoon plus a half-hearted online research on the "newest" local mall. Still don't get it? You can plot the addresses of the 4 malls other than Megabox on Google Maps and you will get the picture of how close they're to each other.

2. 'Porkchop' pageant: Who is the ugliest Miss Hong Kong?

I don't know what to make of this article. Who should really care about the Miss Hong Kong pageant? Is Zoe aware of the fact that nobody cares now? Yes, it's very cool for a woman editor of this prestige news network to mock other women as "porkchop", we respect that right. But before saying that "none of these things would matter if the girls looked better", Zoe, please put up a more recent portrait of yourself here. We can then judge if your journalism matters.

3. 12 year-old beats 'scholar pseudo-model' at the last HKCEE in history

Yes, it's about a 12-year-old beating a 'scholar pseudo-model' at the last HKCEE in history. 12-year-old vs. pseudo models. The 12-year-old got 24 points, the best among those models could get was 12 points. That's it. What is the article about? That. What do you expect?

4. The Hong Kong Hot List: 20 people to watch

In November 2009, they said these people are defining Hong Kong. Nine months after, how has Hong Kong been defined by these 20 people? Since when Macau became part of this Village when they talked about what Stanley Ho's son had been doing with their City of Dreams resort? What has Gillian Chung been doing in these nine months? Anybody has a clue? What was Tanya Chan the Civic Party actress doing when the deal was made between the Democratic Party and the government on the electoral reform? Yes, these 20 people are defining this Village, in CNNGo's dream.

5. Snake, liver sausages, and crocodile: Winter solstice Chinese banquet

No, Zoe, locals here almost never have snakes in a Winter Solstice dinner. Neither a crocodile tail. Snake soup is a popular dish in Hong Kong during winter, but in a Winter Solstice dinner, we usually have dried seafood like shake fin, fish maw, conpoy and abalone, if you're rich, and lots of meat. The common dessert after the dinner would be tangyuan, you could have easily talked about the meaning behind that dessert but you chose not to. I know why. The piece was an advertorial for Lei Garden. (The meaning behind having tangyuan during the Winter Solstice dinner is the symbolism of togetherness/gathering of the whole family.)

6. How two gwailos learned to speak perfect Cantonese

Title of the article should have been: Lives of two gwailos in Hong Kong. Having talked about the HKCEE a minute ago, Chris, you would have got an F in composition for not writing in accordance with the provided subject.

7. Behind the scenes of Hong Kong's most loved egg tart bakery

The English version of the article is far better. But the Chinese they wrote made my eyes bleed. I have no idea why they feel that they need a Chinese section with Mickey Mouse translations of their English articles. When the BBC decided that they need a Chinese site, they do it professionally. More than half of the contributors of the Libertines Pub can write better Chinese than that, CNNGo. Ping us, we are pretty cheap to hire.

8. Where to join in the maddening crowds on July 1

"Maddening"! What do you mean, Zoe? You go say that in the face of the Civil Human Rights Front and you will learn a lesson about the choice of word. And why there're groups taking it to the street on that day with different, sometimes contradictory, objectives? Are they just maddening mobs? A little summary of what happened may actually help those confused gweilos to understand the day better. Ah, I almost forget. CNNGo is more about advertorials. This time for the Wanch.

So this is how one of the tentacles of CNN fares in this Village. Don't worry, the site is in beta, so you earn the right to suck. But if any of you seriously want to know more about Hong Kong the Hi-Tech Village, forget about the useless CNNGo.com, follow the Libertines Pub instead. We're the true insiders, and as the Hong Kong Blog Review said, 'no intermediary is needed".


  1. Mr. Chan,

    In my humble opinion, you should have never given these people the publicity they do not deserve. For us HK natives, these people are obviously carpetbaggers. What makes it even more insulting is that they're dismissive and utterly disrespectful to the local Chinese. A while back, in one of their articles, they said that this one HK TV celebrity speaks incomprehensible Cantonese. But as we natives know, she speaks normal mandarin-accented Cantonese understandably and charmingly -- maybe all Chinese dialects are incomprehensible to them.

    Look at their site, if you don't know much about Hong Kong, you'd think 96% of HK's population are non-Chinese; in reality, it's the other way around.

    They are not locals; they definitely do not have local insights.

    深 水 埗 仔

  2. 深 水 埗 仔, I have yet to thank you for the review there!

  3. confused expat10 August, 2010 15:34

    ah well, cnngo is nothing more than an online copy of HK Magazine.

  4. another confused expat10 August, 2010 15:43

    Except for the fact that they have some decent editors at HK mag.

  5. Since you've singled me out personally for criticism, allow me to respond. The mall piece was not published in April. In fact, it was written in summer 2009 and published in November 2009, before iSquare opened. It was subsequently republished in April 2010 for reasons unknown to me. It should have been updated but I was never contacted before it was republished. I'm not happy about that.

    In any case, it's not my best work. It's a silly article about shopping malls. I'm curious as to why you chose to single it out when I've written dozens of articles on so many other topics. What about my recent work on FM101, Dragon Garden and Macau's independent art spaces? In any case, most of my work appears elsewhere, in Muse and the SCMP as well as a number of other publications. You can see some of it on my blog, urbanphoto.net. I invite you to take a look.

    As for the Chinese translation, the marketing, the fluff posts -- I can't help you there. I don't work for CNN and I'm not part of CNNGo's editorial team. The points you raise strike me as valid and I hope they're addressed.

    Now as for the comment by 深 水 埗 仔: I'm assuming you are the same Sham Shui Po Boy who writes the HK blog review site. I enjoy your reviews but your carpetbagger charge is insulting and unwarranted. If it was directed at me, well, I don't really know what to say. I don't think any of my work shows contempt for Chinese Hong Kongers, I don't think it's aloof and I challenge you to prove otherwise.

  6. I feel sorry for you, Chris. So the ad space up there is on the house.

  7. So you're just trolling. If you can't bother to respond to a comment without a lame put-down and a pedantic dismissal, oh well. Too bad.


  8.           唔使客氣!


  9. CNN, the propaganda channel ... who wants to be associated with that?

  10. henry c, where is the love, why all this hate. cnngo is a fun site, do you know what irony is? so what's all this fuss man! i go to newyorker.com to read the New Yorker. altho i will come here from now on...what is this... oh, libertines thing for some fun reads too! i am very intrigued by all this hate you're spewing, i love this BS, too bad people around don't US LIBERTINES seriously enough! yay, we are libertines!

    oh by the way, i am very lacking in the beauty department, does it ever stop me from calling someone porkchop? never! in fact, i call girls porkchop all the time. so really, chill out about that, you don't see the big picture. that part in your above piece really sucked, but its like childs-play picking on ONE random line and editor-bashing. henry C, play fair child, play fair. you lose 10 marks there for not being very libertine!

    can i see a photo of you? why are all the contributors on this site shy to show their faces? and why do you all have one letter family names?

    fellow libertine! in solidarity, kylie C.

  11. Hello,

    I didn't enjoy this piece, as I don't understand why Henry is being so hateful about his own confusion.

    First of all, I am a local HKer. I don't read CNNGo often, because it caters for... well, in your very own words, "confused qweilows like Wesley". Look, confused gweilows are confused gweilows. They are not confused back in their own place of origin. They come here, and they want a confused, fun, and crazy experience of HK. I think that CNNGo is doing an awesome job at that.

    Come on, are you a local HKer? I don't think CNNGo, or its editors ever VOWED to represent HK so definitely as you naively are so ranting about. Of course, they'll bill themselves as the "ultimate insider guide".. how would it be otherwise? How would you bill it if you actually had a job at CNN? haha. These poor writers are writing diligently, to bring some fun into the lives of some confused gweilows. They should all be awarded a badge, not bashed so hatefully by you!

    Look, I am not retarded (altho I can never be certain), I don't go to CNNgo for an "in depth and insider coverage" of HK issues. Its a bloody lifestyle, fun, trendy sort of site. Why are you even turning to CNNGo for hard facts hard news? That's completely retarded. Come on, that's totally retarded. It's like I wouldn't come to the Libertines Pub site for a definitive account on all things hk either. It's all just for fun. So what's all this bashing! I come here for the ocassional ranting, but please stop bashing!

    And for confused gweilows who don't want to remain confused... learn some cantones and get out there! HK is a beautiful place!

    Confused by all this babel.

  12. i thought this piece was hating too but LOL at the last two comments, obviously written by one person (probably a cnngo employee)

    but this piece still reeks of agenda. CNNGO is hardly a true insiders guide but its not as bad as Henry C makes it. and really Henry, you think your shit dont stank? libertines is hardly a compelling read as well.

  13. w00t! Welcome everybody! Hope you all had fun in the Libertines Pub!

    To my surprise, fans of CNNGo are more incredible than fans of Martin Oei! Keep them coming!

  14. Big up to Henry for actually getting a response out of the Corporate media. I would have expected the Noam Chomsky treatment (ignore the criticism).

    Christopher, allow me to respond to some of the points you made. Henry's post was not about you, so I don't see why he should be expected to do a comprehensive survey of your work for all sorts of corporations before commenting on one piece. He singled it out because it sucked, what's wrong with that? Yes, if his point was that YOU suck, he should consider more than one of your articles. But that wasn't his point. It was post about CNNgo, not Christopher DeWolf. I'm not really sure how you missed that point, given the title of the post.

    As for the other CNNgo defenders here (they must work for CNN, who else defends such nonsense?), I'm a confessed confused gweilo and I don't find that series of advertorials on CNNgo even slightly enlightening. To the anonymous lackey who wrote "These poor writers are writing diligently, to bring some fun into the lives of some confused gweilows. They should all be awarded a badge, not bashed so hatefully by you!" That strikes me as an impossibly naive take on how corporate media operates. I'm pretty sure they do what they do because it makes them money, not out of altruism. Pretty much everything written on a website like CNNgo is written to appease some sponsor (not unlike how the CNN the "news" network operates). CNNgo is no different from one of those tourist brochures you get in a hotel that sends you to restaurants that pay to be in the brochure. The difference is that it masquerades as something more legitimate.

    So there you go Christopher. Gweilo like you and me are easy prey for trolling, so I took your bait. BTW:

  15. I come to read the Pub expecting to be intrigued and disgusted in equal measures. Some piece got me reading every word, some I glanced through, and others (like this) got me grossed out enough to follow the debate which inevitably ensue.

    I go CNNGo for entirely different reasons. I might be one whore of a content consumer. And I will continue to read both.

    Kudos to you, Henry. This piece got you the publicity you rightly deserve. I don't agree with this piece, but hey we all have our own opinions.

  16. Razlan, your comment is the comment I ought to reply to. Yes, that is the fundamental idea of the Libertines Pub. Among our contributors, it has never been unusual for us to disagree with each other. The editors are fully aware of this fact, but all posts submitted have been published. This is the libertine spirit, and this is a pub where everyone can bash out their opinions and be responsible for them as individuals.

    Wes, I just thought they're not familiar with the ideas of "advertorial" and "fact-checking". And these two things are dodged by all comments here. Journalism at its best.

    Let's stick a beta sign on our banner someday, so we can bash everybody and come back to say, "it's all for fun! Who comes here for facts anyway!"

    And the CNN brand name doesn't worth more than a few "silly articles about shopping malls" and "a bloody lifestyle, fun, trendy sort of site".

  17. Hey Henry, I've become your biggest fan - the fact that you stood up for what you wrote shows a strength of character that really defies the ass-licking mentality of corporate sponsored journalism.

  18. i don't work for cnngo! haha suckers!


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