Group reports-critique, grades, Week 2

Group Reports – Week 2



Ecuador cuts off Julian Assange’s Internet before U.S. election

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange lost his Internet access at Ecuador’s London embassy due to his release of sensitive materials and interference in U.S. election campaign.

 Suggested change: Ecuador curbed internet access for Julian Assange, founder of the anti-secrecy “WikiLeaks”, after the group’s publication of previously secret documents complicating Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

"We can confirm Ecuador cut off Assange's internet access Saturday, 5 pm GMT, shortly after publication of (Hillary) Clinton's Goldman Sachs speeches (sic)," a (sted the) statement from WikiLeaks said on Monday.

Ecuador acknowledged (sted admitted) that it (sted they) “temporarily restricted” Assange’s access to communication, interfering with the release (sted stopping him releasing) of secrets (sted documents) that could have an impact on the Nov. 8 US presidential election.

Ecuador said it exercised its sovereign right to unplug Assange, insisting that its government “does not respond to pressure from other states.” It  said it did not want to meddle in the election process nor favor any candidate (sted And the country did not want to meddle in election process or favor any candidate).

Although Assange’s Internet access was cut, WikiLeaks published emails illegally obtained by hackers from John Podesta, Clinton’s campaign chairman. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama featured in the hacked correspondence.   

Leaked email exposed (Hillary’s gender gap hypocrisy) – (better tone this down, as it reflects an opinion, at least to a certain extent), pay disparity at the Clinton Foundation, a family-run charity. High-ranking women at Clinton charitable organization earned an average of $81,000 less than men in similar positions, according to the foundation’s public 990 tax forms for the year 2014,  which were highlighted late Friday by WikiLeaks.

 Hacked emails published by WikiLeaks Thursday disclosed (sted revealed) that President Obama’s private email address in 2008 was before he secured the US presidency. The leaked emails, which dated back to 2008, showed messages between Obama and Podesta, who served as Obama’s counselor earlier in his second term, primarily discussing plans for the new administration.

The total of mails released by WikiLeaks so far reached 25,000. WikiLeaks has said it will release about (sted around) 50,000 mails in total in advance of the Nov. 8 vote.

Your nut graph (below) is excellent. Take a bow:  

 Assange (sted Julian Assange, previously introduced), whose WikiLeaks web site lets whistleblowers release documents anonymously, has sought political asylum in Ecuador’s London embassy since June 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden over sex assault allegations involving two female WikiLeaks supporters.

(You might add that Assange fears that any such extradition would lead to his being handed over to the United States, possibly to face charges of espionage that could send him away for decades).  

Rotating EditorWei XiaoAlicia

Grade: 88  




Taiwan tour guide burned himself

PINGDONG, Taiwan —A Taiwan male? (not necessary in the lead to say “male” or female) tour guide was found burned to death Thursday in a car (down an alley at Lingyun New Village in Pingdong) in a poor part of northeast? Taiwan, according to (better to say the China Times newspaper reported). His wife said he may have burned himself because of a sharp decline of mainland tourists.

“My husband used to be a bus driver, he had just got his tour guide license this year because he thought the tourism in Taiwan had a promising future.” said the wife, who couldn’t even believe it when the police called her to identify the body. (Don’t report on what people supposedly “believe.” As reporters, we can never know what’s really in anyone’s heart, only what they say.) “We didn’t expect that there would be no job opportunity from August until this day. ”

She told the police that her husband was diagnosed with mild depression lately for couldn’t sleep at night. Also, he had called his sister the day before the incident saying that he was haunted by the declining numbers of tourists and was pessimistic about his life. He committed suicide despite the family’s constant care and love.

(The paragraphs immediately above and below don’t work for an international audience. They provide unnecessary details that bog down the story and prevent the reader from getting to the point – the decline of tourists from the mainland. Also, the sentence about suicide says that he did so “despite the family’s constant love and care.” Not only is this irrelevant to readers, but it cannot be verified independently. As reporters, we’d have no way of knowing whether the dead man received “constant love and care.” Don’t raise any such matter that you cannot independently confirm, especially that touch on feelings.       

The man was found in the front passenger seat after the fireman put out the fire of his car at noon, October 20. The neighbors nearby smelled the smoke and called the fire station for help.

Earlier this year, 24 Chinese mainland tourists from Liaoning Province were killed in a tour bus fire in Taoyuan, Taiwan. The Taiwanese bus driver was believed to have set the fire deliberately. The incident has left a lingering fear for mainland tourists who had planned a tour to Taiwan.

Your nut graph (below) misses a key point: why are mainland tourists suddenly shunning Taiwan? You need to dig into this,  including a line about Taiwan as a self-governing island that split with the mainland in 1949, at the end of China’s civil war, for those who don’t know the background. You must assume that your readers don’t know anything about what you’re reporting and you must answer all questions that might arise to a reasonable reader.  Thus, you’d have to mention the victory of Tsai Ing-wen’s Democratic Progressive Party in the 2016 elections, a change from the Kuomintang government on Taiwan that had sought closer economic ties with the mainland. Beijing demanded that Tsai accept a “one China” formulation set out in a so-called 1992 Consensus.  Her refusal to do so, even as she offered other olive branches to Beijing, is widely seen as the cause of declining tourists from the mainland. Good reporters always dig in deeper, attempting, for instance, to find out if Beijing has cut back on the number of tourist trips it is currently allowing to Taiwan, for instance via tour groups’ licensing requirements.  

During the seven-day Golden Week holiday (the mainland National Day Holidays, from October 1st to October 7th), only 94,519 mainland tourists visited Taiwan, 70% lower than the figure of 181,087 people last year, cited the latest statistic from Taiwan Immigration Department. Another data from Taiwan’s Tourist Bureau  showed (sted presented) that since Tsai Ing-wen came to power at May, the number of mainland tourists visiting Taiwan began to slip, monthly decrease more than 10% compared with same period last year.

Thousands of tourism-related business workers, including travel agencies, tour guides, hoteliers, restaurant owners and representatives of other businesses, rallied (sted held a demonstration) on September 12 (sted 12th) to call for the Tsai government's attention on the slump in visitors from Chinese mainland since Tsai took office in May.

Rotating Editor: DENG YE (Vanessa)

Grade: 75












DuterteGoodbye U.S., Hello China

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte announced his separation from the U.S. and to renew friendship with China, as he and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping signed a maritime cooperation agreement and 12 other deals on Thursday, Oct. 20 during his four-day trip in China.

Suggested change: BEIJING -- Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte agreed Thursday to launch direct talks with China over long-running disputes in the South China Sea, announcing a “separation” from his U.S. ally and 13 deals with Beijing valued at billions of dollars.

Duterte, wrapping up his first state visit to China, said the deals included a maritime cooperation agreement.

"I announce my separation from the United States, both in military, not maybe social, but economics also," he said Thursday- (no need to repeat Thursday, already in lead) in Beijing.

He clarified (said would be better) though that he is (was would be better)  not severing ties with the US (the noun is United States, adjective is U.S., according to AP style) but is (was, better)  merely implementing an independent foreign policy.

"America has lost now so I will be dependent on you for a long time, but don’t worry, we will also help," Duterte said. (a comma is used before a quote mark, not a period).

Chinese President Xi Jinping said he hoped Duterte's milestone visit to China could properly handle differences and restore bilateral ties, months after the two countries’ strained relationship almost reached breaking point with a Hague tribunal ruling in the South China Sea against China. The legal action had begun under  Duterte's predecessor, Benigno Aquino III. (Better to break this paragraph into two sentences, for clarity’s sake).

The Hague tribunal in July ruled in favor of the Philippines on the sea dispute and declared that China’s claims to the South China Sea had no basis. China refuses to recognize the ruling. The United States has strongly supported the award and treated it as binding to the Philippines.

(Excellent nut graph)


Duterte, speaking to Filipinos living in China at the end of his four-day visit, said that the United States has (had) taken the Philippines for granted and has (had) interfered in its affairs and declared that he would not visit the United States within his term in office.

Duterte's comments provoked a swift response from Washington. State Department spokesman John Kirby said the US was surprised and would seek an explanation.


Ahead of his China visit, Duterte made a series of pronouncements about possibly curbing Philippine security engagements with the United States, including the removal of American counter terrorism forces in the country's south and his opposition to planned joint patrols with the U.S. Navy in the South China Sea. He also wanted to stop annual joint combat exercises the Philippines hosted alongside the U.S. military that China opposes.

Former Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said Duterte's shift from the U.S. to China was a national tragedy, especially for the military.

Despite Duterte's stance (better to refer to anti-American remarks, for emphasis), a recent polls showed that 76% of Filipinos trust the United States rather (more?) than China, a reporter Aurora Almendral said.

(A reporter said? Not an authoritative source. You’d need to dig up what any such survey showed and cite it, not a random reporter

(Rotating Editor: Emma

Grade: 85


South China Sea Group?




Duterte’s state visit to Beijing turn to a new page of the bilateral ties

   Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who arrived in Beijing Oct.18 for his first state visit to China, said he agrees with China’s call for peaceful settlement of the South China Sea issue.

    (Suggested change:  Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte agreed Thursday to launch direct talks with China over long-running disputes in the South China Sea, announcing a “separation” from his U.S. ally and 13 deals with Beijing valued at billions of dollars.


This four-day visit will be regarded as a new page for the relation between China and the Philippines. (This sounds like an analysis, not a news report. Readers need to know the facts first. What was said and what was agreed). Mr. Duterte is (was) leading a big delegation to China. Even before he embarked on his first trip outside of Southeast Asia as president, Duterte sent many positive – (Don’t use an adjective here such as “positive;” stay neutral in your reporting) signals that have raised hopes (not a neutral phrase) the new Philippine leader can repair the country’s ties with China, which were strained under the previous government led by Benigno Aquino Ⅲ .

   In his interviews with Chinese media ahead of Beijing trip, Duterte expressed his desire to improve ties with China in different fields. He also said the just concluded joint military drills between his country and the United States in the South China Sea will (say would, the conditional case) be the last while he is in office.

   Duterte, who took office in July, has been faced with repairing chilly ties with Beijing after the Cabinet of former president Benigno Aquino Ⅲ unilaterally filed a case to an international tribunal on the South China Sea. China did not recognize the case and it declared it invalid.

   On Oct.20, Chinese President Xi Jinping met Duterte. Duterte hailed a warming of relations with China and said that ties between them go back centuries. ” China has been to a friend of the Philippines and the roots of our bonds are very deep and not easily severed,” he told Xi in his open remarks, ”Even as we arrive in Beijing, close to winter, this is a springtime of our relationship.”

   Such words and gestures can help turn a new page in relationship between Beijing and Manila. However, some in the world area are unhappy about the warming relation. They think Manila is backing down from its South China Sea position and distancing itself from Washington and its security alliance with US because it wants economic benefits from Beijing.

   According to a BBC opinion, it (Who is “it”?) expected Duterte to focus on the maritime disputes and re-evaluate the importance of the alliance with the US (write United States) someday. .

   Given this situation, US officials are planning to take action. John Kirby, the U.S. State Department spokesman, said that the top U.S. diplomat for Asia, Daniel Russel, is traveling to Manila this weekend and would hold conversations with Filipino government officials, according to the report from AP.  (Rather than quote AP for this, you should check the U.S. State Department’s web site for a transcript of spokesman Kirby’s remarks). 

Grade 80


Last modified: Tuesday, 25 October 2016, 11:49 AM