I‘ve already posted a rant about pointless travel articles from the media, and The Huffington Post made me do it again this week. Yesterday it published an “article” by Janice Lintz titled “7 Reasons Why Taiwan Should Be on Your Bucket List.” The article has been taken down, presumably because every expat in Taiwan called it a worthless piece of trash that could’ve been written by anyone checking out Wikipedia.
But don’t worry, lazy journalism is a pastime in Taiwan and Focus Taiwan rewrote the article (it’s the laziest summarizing job I’ve seen since my students who handed in plagiarized work).
The ugly side of “journalism”
Quite possibly the most cringe-worthy quote from the original article is “Taiwan is not a typical destination for Westerners yet it is popular with Chinese visitors. Taiwan has its own President, constitution, armed forces and currency but is officially called the Republic of China (ROC) despite being part of the People’s Republic of China (PRC).” Nice job pandering to the mainland government; I suppose it’s because HuffPo isn’t blocked in China (yet).
Misrepresenting the smaller cities
Of course, the article also claimed the towns of Jiufen and Keelung are nothing more than night markets. After my trip to Jiufen, I’d say skip the night market and just go hiking to enjoy the scenery.
From the vague references to everything there is to do in Taipei — there isn’t even a mention of all the places outside Taipei like Taroko National Park or Tainan — I would assume Ms. Lintz has never set foot on the island. If she has visited Taiwan, it seems she’s managed to spend only a few days in Taipei without actually seeing much.
There is absolutely nothing new or interesting in this article for tourists to Taiwan — it’s even written in such a bland tone that it doesn’t make Taiwan sound like a worthwhile destination. It only reinforced the boring image Taiwan has made for itself.
I’ve written plenty here about why I have stayed in Taipei for so long — there’s so much here to make it a great travel destination.
There’s much more to Taiwan
Taipei in particular has great night life (alright, I haven’t really sampled much nightlife outside the city) — there are some decent bars with local beer and, of course, the night markets. Taiwan has a thriving music scene at bars and clubs, as well as theater performances at the National Theatre and some smaller performance spaces. There’s even some great art here — and I don’t just mean the impressive museums either; there are smaller galleries all around.
And for the adventurous traveler there’s plenty of outdoor activities (assuming it isn’t raining). I’ve taken more than my share of bike rides through the riverside parks around the city, not to mention the coastal ride from Hualien. And travelers have their choice of hikes throughout Taiwan — sure, there are some good ones in Taipei, but there are even more elsewhere that are more rustic.
Oh yeah, and there’s food. More than the Michelin star restaurants mentioned in the article (do you really need to publicize Michelin star restaurants?). If you’re going to write about food in Taiwan, you have to describe all the common night market food. You have just about any type of food you could want here. My only complaint is the lack of truly spicy food, but there are some restaurants that will provide a good kick when I need it.
And there is still so much more on this little island called Taiwan that I have yet to explore (hell, I haven’t even written about some of my other trips outside Taipei).
The next time a media organization wants to write a story about a travel destination, they should look beyond a Wikipedia page. There are plenty of literary-minded seasoned travelers living in places like Taiwan who would be more than happy to write an article about their adopted home.