What is wrong with Bus Uncle profiteering?

You can usually judge the quality of a newspaper/magazine by that of the editorial. The only exception is WSJ, where the reporting is consistently good, while the editorial could be idiotically partisan.

The quality of Ming Pao has gone downhil since the thug Yu Pinghai took control. Though it had since recovered when Yu left, it was never able to reclaim the ground lost to Apple Daily. I thought commentator Qin Sheng has been really good. But I am really disappointed by today's editorial on Bus Uncle
  • [ 明報 ]若借醜聞發達 應停發綜援





1. This sounds more like a reporter's rant. It is, unfortunately, very common in HK media that reporters rant in their reports. I understand that the reporter has every reason to despise Bus Uncle when he asked for $100k in return for the interview. But should the editorial be the ranting window for reporters? MP went on to ask for suspending Bus Uncle's social security stipend, and prosecute him if abuse has been found. MP obviously forgot that our legal system is built on the principle of "presumed innocent", and that it is unfair to predict crime just because you do not like the person. (According to Oriental Daily, Chen vowed he will stop his social welfare application if he has income from media exposure. Why did MP not bother to ask Chen this question?)

2. Ming Pao went on to compare this to the "Chen Kin Hong scandal" of Apple Daily and questioned if AD did this again. AD might have succumbed to Bus Uncle's ransom, but paying someone to buy a story that has already happened and probing about his perspectives is very different from paying someone to create a story.

3. MP is apparently worried about the interviewee would exaggerate if the interview is paid for. They worried too much. a) People would exaggerate whether there is economic incentive or not. b) As long as the reporters are faithful and use 'quotes', we should leave the readers to judge for themselves, not the editor. Next did a decent job in using 'quotes' and leaving subjective judgment aside.

4. Lastly, (this is what I really want to talk about), if Bus Uncle (or anyone) is able to earn a living for himself and release himself from the safety net of social welfare, shouldn't this be encouraged? Why Bus Uncle cannot take opportunity of his 3 week fame to make a few bucks? If the media can profit from an event, why the person in question is not allowed to? Why, is the selling of (fabricated) Lady Di's secret love story more acceptable than (hypothetically) if Lady Di sells her own interview? Why is it okay for Clinton or Greenspan to charge US$200k per appearance/lecture, but no okay for Chen Yuet-tung to charge HK$100k for an interview?

p.s. IMHO Bus Uncle is full of sh1t (why? see this) and he does not deserve my sympathy. But my precise point is that such personal view should not alter our answers to the questions above.


Anonymous said...

I agree, Ming Pao's reporters really should not use their circulation to interfere with Bus Uncle's personal financial situation by calling for investigations into his social security stipend. Unless, the report knowingly reveals public endangerment, then this is an abuse of power.
Also, Bus Uncle is not the most likable person, but he is not very different from many of us, because he is actually very lonely, and just wants to be liked and respected. Unfortunately, he just happens to be one of those people you love to hate.
Life might be favorable to you, life might be fair to you, or life might be harsh to you. Bus Uncle's life seems to be harsh, because here is a man who has lived for over half a century, with much of it trying to acheive some sort of fame and recognition, then finally one day it happens, without him even knowing or trying, and he becomes the biggest assh*le in the world - that's life.

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