Over the weekend, a story that originated on the smut-ridden UK-based Daily Mail went viral among major media outlets across the world. Time, CBS, and the Huffington Post were among the dozens of online news media who published stories about Beijing residents flocking to giant TV screens to see fake sunrises during heavy pollution last week. Most of these stories were accompanied by the same photo of a massive TV screen in Tiananmen Square with a sunrise appearing on it.
In truth, that sunrise was probably on the screen for less than 10 seconds at a time, as it was part of an ad for tourism in China’s Shandong province. The ad plays every day throughout the day all year round no matter how bad the pollution is. The photographer simply snapped the photo at the moment when the sunrise appeared. Look closely, and you can even see the Shandong tourism logo in the bottom right corner. The photo was credited to ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images, so a Daily Mail reporter did not take it.
In fact, Daily Mail reporter James Nye, who apparently quoted a traffic coordinator in Beijing, lives in New York City, according to his Twitter profile. CBS went so far as to copy that quote. The quote, in which the man complained about the pollution, originally came from an unrelated Associated Press story published a day earlier.
Yes, Beijing is polluted, as we at Tech in Asia have also been critical of, but this story is complete bullshit. International media should be embarrassed for not taking even a moment to second guess the Daily Mail, one of the least reputable news sources in the UK.