【美國大選】〈雙語〉一年又七個月,我的美國大選第一線採訪之旅

【美國大選】〈雙語〉一年又七個月,我的美國大選第一線採訪之旅

民主黨大會現場。圖/唐家婕 提供


【本文以中英雙語刊出/中文編譯:黃維德】

我的美國總統選舉報導之旅始於去年 4 月。當時,希拉蕊首次表態參加這次大選。我的中國媒體編輯交給我的第一項任務,就是先將焦點放在美國選舉的腐敗之處。但這段時間以來,整段選舉過程讓我愈來愈著迷。

請容我稍稍介紹一下自己的背景,以及為何我會來到華盛頓特區。我相信許多人都知道,大學不但是自我探索的時期,也是政治探索的時期。我還在台灣之時,就非常投入也熟悉選舉和民主程序──我喜愛談論和書寫政治與社會議題,或許投身新聞業是種十分自然的過程。

2009 年,我加入中國出版集團財新傳媒,最終,財新在 2012 年給了我機會,讓我前往美國負責與亞太區有關的政治及經濟新聞。我也立刻抓住了這個契機。

幾年後,我來到了新浪。新浪是全球最大的網站之一,Alexa 全球排名第 13,每日頁面造訪人次超過 1 億,更擁有使用者超過 2 億的微博。這樣的數字聽來或許誇張,但中國(網路媒體)的爆炸性成長,傾向於讓少數幾間公司更為成功,也就是說,讀者的選擇相較於台灣、或美國,其實少得多。

而在這場美國選舉,我們不想將焦點放在傳統論述之上,而是希望能更深入美國民眾對選舉的看法。為何民眾如此憤怒?為何會出現如此強大的桑德斯草根運動?在這方面,多數亞洲媒體和美國媒體的報導角度並無二致──亦即全力聚焦於兩黨的重要人物,卻也很少深入探究。

我無意批評任何人,但我的確發現,許多中國新聞媒體除了大致翻譯西方媒體的文章之外,實在沒有太多報導。我想協助打破這樣的模式,透過中國媒體記者的眼光和觀點,撰寫美國新聞;我最近在中國和美國見到的情況,也讓我對未來充滿了期待。

2012 年選舉至今,非傳統媒體的內容量出現爆炸性成長,而且涵蓋了許多受人忽視的主題。我們在微博、推特、微信與部落格平台都見到了這樣的現象。愈來愈多中國和美國民眾投身於此,與其他選民分享他們的看法,例如:許多留美中國學生,就會透過社群媒體和直播記錄自身的體驗。現在,中國民眾在內容上也有了更多選擇。

這促使我們更加重視這些非傳統新聞。我在社群媒體和直播活動上投入的時間,與向北京編輯回報即時新聞一樣多,我們也花費許多時間製作記錄短片。我們在報導 2016 年選舉之時,將焦點放在這些新的媒介型態上。

支持川普的華裔們;與比希拉蕊受歡迎的桑德斯

這場選舉帶給我的體驗十分多樣,一如我所嘗試的各種報導方式。舉例來說,我參與的各場集會和大會,帶給我的感受就極為不同。我在接觸希拉蕊陣營的活動組織者和 AAPI(亞裔及太平洋島國族裔美國選民組織)主任之後,非常幸運地成為第一位參訪希拉蕊紐約競選總部的中國媒體記者。

總部充滿活力、對訪客款待有加,而在私底下的談話中,員工也熱情又親切。然而,希拉蕊和 DNC(民主黨全國委員會)代表在訪談時,似乎總是遵循腳本,也常顯得死板又無趣。他們從來不會口吐即興之語,與川普的言詞有如強烈對比。

採訪希拉蕊競選總部,圖右為亞太裔推廣總監傑森.鄧科(Jason Tengco)。圖/唐家婕 提供


我在參與桑德斯集會之時,感受到的氣氛就更為友善。參與者多為年輕人,入場手續並不嚴格,會場中也沒有強烈衝突。集會歡迎所有人參與,每個人也會真誠地討論與自身社群有關的主題。有位桑德斯的競選團隊成員還直接叫出了我的名字,讓我十分驚喜。整場活動彌漫著那種意氣相投的友善之情。

到了 2 月,川普的瑞德福大學集會,坦白說,給我的感覺非常不自在。如果非得用一個詞來形容那場集會的話,我會選「充滿爭執」。所有外國媒體都被擋在門外,只能報導場外支持者與示威者之間的衝突。那時,我會猜,99% 的川普支持者都是白人。不斷有人被趕出會場,支持者高喊「建起圍牆」。那是種徹底的混亂。

瑞德福大學集會後,我決定更深入地了解支持川普的少數族群,特別是華人。我原本猜想這樣的人非常少,但在尋求紐約親戚的協助之後,成功找到了支持川普的美籍華人團體。我在團體組成初期就與他們接觸,得以獲取他們的信任、讓他們願意開口說出自身的動機。

團體運作主要透過微博和中文,成員多為第一代移民,許多人透過不動產投資取得綠卡。一段時間過後,他們獲得了更多曝光,然而,他們變得更加精英主義,開始更嚴格地掌控與媒體之間的應對;我也開始理解為何他們會支持川普

經歷這一切之後,我實在不知道共和黨全國代表大會會發生什麼事,但我也感覺到,那必定會是場川普秀。我的想法沒有錯:在與場內的共和黨人交談之時,我的直覺是,他們支持川普,只是因為他們覺得自己非得這麼做不可。大會中出現的各項爭議眾人皆知,但對我來說,真正重要的其實是這些與一般共和黨員的談話。

參加民主黨全國代表大會之時,我當然也預期那會是場希拉蕊秀,但我意外地發現,非常多人是為了桑德斯才到場。在場內四處走動、進行簡短訪問之時,反而非常難找出希拉蕊的支持者。這場桑德斯與希拉蕊之間的戰爭,讓大會的混亂程度遠遠超出我先前的預期。

川普將問題怪罪中國,卻大受中國讀者歡迎

即使如此,中國民眾對這些候選人的看法仍與美國有著強烈的對比。

他們知道希拉蕊曾任國務卿,也知道希拉蕊在南海政策和人權議題採取強勢立場。在微博民調等各式各樣的調查中,民眾總是對希拉蕊有著極為負面的印象。

另一方面,川普卻相當受到中國讀者歡迎。他在中國民眾心目中是個成功的商人,中國民眾格外尊重成功的商業人士、特別是不動產等領域的成功者。雖然川普並不是真正的白手起家之人,但許多中國人認為他是。此外,他們也覺得川普相當有娛樂性。

可惜的是,對中國人來說,川普最重要的賣點,就是他為這場選舉帶來的混亂。國家媒體將川普崛起比作希特勒或墨索里林崛起,強調民主的危險,許多民眾亦樂於將美國選舉看作笑話一場。

我知道自己聽起來鐵定是反川普,但我還是相信自己在報導中試圖中立。每位候選人都有各自的強項和弱點,但我實在無法忽視川普那些言詞所帶有的負面性。對我來說,那是嚴重的過度簡化──「我們失去了就業機會,是中國的錯;工廠關閉了,是中國的錯。」種種複雜的全球議題,被簡化得有如世界上僅有中國和美國的對立;我認為,這必定會傷害中美關係的進展。

為何中國人如此關心美國大選?

常有人問我,為何中國人會對美國選舉有興趣,以及中國人對部分關鍵議題的看法,與美國人有何不同?

從經濟和地理政治上來看,中國人當然會關心與自身相關的新聞,其中一個例子就是美國經濟或經濟政策的變動。任何足以改變兩大強權互動狀態的事件,對中國人來說都極為重要:例如南海議題、TPP(跨太平洋夥伴協議)、指控俄羅斯駭侵 DNC(民主黨全國總部)等。

前者的原因不難理解:美國的盟友希望藉由 TPP 強化美國對亞洲事務的參與程度,以抑制中國影響力的增長速度。TPP 的協商結果將直接影響亞太的實力平衡,所以它會是中國讀者眼中的關鍵議題。

而俄羅斯 DNC 駭侵指控,對中國人來說也同樣重要:中國常是美國網路安全問題的代罪羔羊,但中國人在乎此事,並不只是因為某種同病相憐之感。美國對此事件的反應、特別是希拉蕊的反應,才是中國人最關心的事。

希拉蕊表示,美國會「以處理其他攻擊的方式來應對網路攻擊」,並威脅採取「政治、經濟和外交回應手段」。中國人認為這是種危險又不成熟的回應,許多美國人的看法似乎也是如此;另一方面,歐巴馬的網路安全政策,則是著重於嚇阻和對等回應。這必定是雖然同為民主黨,但中國人對歐巴馬的喜好程度,遠高於希拉蕊的原因之一。

另外值得一提的是,社會議題在本次美國大選的重要性極高,但中國人似乎不是特別在乎。種族歧視、反穆斯林言論等事物,對多數中國人來說相對沒那麼重要。

中國人不太能理解「種族歧視」,就像其他並非民族熔爐的國家一樣。外界認為中國、日本等國家相當排外──排外雖不見得與外表有關,但中國的人種組成相對單純,中國各地的文化差異或許相當巨大,但外表長相的差異並不大。因此,中國人、特別是居於一級國際城市之外的中國人,實在無法理解為何種族歧視會是核心議題。

在中國,「穆斯林歧視」其實比「種族歧視」更為棘手。種族歧視在中國或許不受重視,但穆斯林議題則相當敏感:新疆自治區的緊繃程度依舊,那裡是許多少數族群的家鄉,而且他們大多是穆斯林。以中國政府對待這些少數族群的手段來看──例如禁止二十幾個官方認定「太過穆斯林」的姓名、禁止男性蓄鬍等──大多數中國人並不會對川普的反穆斯林言詞產生強烈的反感。

大選之中,對中美媒體環境的反思

最後,容我稍稍談一下媒體在這場選舉中扮演的角色。

許多人問,我們如何判定、推斷中國民眾對什麼有興趣?如果在 2012 年,我得承認,我們並不會真的觀察民眾或進行民調,以理解民眾想看的、想讀的事物。但在社群媒體和部落格普及之際,我們能(透過網站數據)輕易判斷哪些議題對中國社會來說最為重要。

而當我向後退一步、縱觀整個媒體產業,更發現美國和中國的諸多相似之處。絕大多數的中國媒體是由政府經營,因此,你常會看到針對民主可行性而來的、極為負面的反應。

然而,我認為美國媒體在許多情況下並沒有比較好:有些媒體懷有極左或極右偏見,報導中國的政治運作方式之時,亦以負面訊息居多。

我沒辦法選邊站。我非常確信部分原因在於,身為台灣人,我對此事的看法較為中性。但美國和中國那些誠實又不帶偏見的媒體,亦是我非常重要的動力來源:它們向我證明,擺脫這種選邊站、只作負面報導的枷鎖,並非不可能。

正如我先前所言,新世代的個人新媒體記者,近期已有如雨後春筍般地出現,我也相信,為了他們、為了我的讀者,我有義務堅守我在第一線見到的事實,做出不帶偏見、負責任的報導。(本文部分內容由作者整理自 2016 年 10 月 11 日,於 DC 喬治華盛頓大學之演講內容)

附錄:過去一年半,我的美國大選相關報導

《文字報導》
Hillary's Brooklyn Melting Pot
Building the (Great) Wall— Chinese Americans are looking past Trump's racism
紙箱、便利貼、豆椅沙發——希拉蕊在布魯克林打造的反攻基地
狂熱、焦慮、憤怒——川普競選現場的各種面孔
對話《2012》美國總統:我為什麼加入桑德斯的"政治革命"
力挺川普的華裔,他們在想什麼?
我所親歷的共和黨大會:萬人批鬥場
美國大選直擊:希拉蕊重返紐約"哈林"
 
《影音》
新浪獨家探訪希拉蕊競選總部
Global Journalist: The global Trump effect〉(Started from 20:30)
"驢群"大鬧費城民主黨大會
紋著桑德斯的男孩──這些青年為何拼死反對希拉蕊
跟著代表們去"趕會" 直擊民主黨大會
360 全景直擊民主黨全國大會會場
新浪美國大選專題

【以下為作者唐家婕撰寫之原文】

My Journey covering US election 2016 for Chinese Media

Jane Tang

My coverage of the US Presidential election began in April of last year, when Hillary first made it known that she would be running. First assignment I got was from my Chinese editors was to focus initially on corruption in US election, but over time I became more and more enthralled in the process as a whole.

Let me just start by giving you a bit of background on myself, and how I ended up here in D.C. As I'm sure many of you are currently experiencing, college is a time of not just personal exploration, but also political. Back in my homeland of Taiwan, I became very involved in, and familiar with, the electoral and democratic process. I loved to chat and write about politics, social issues…, so it was a natural transition into journalism. I was offered a position at Caixin, one of the most prestigious publications in China, back in 2009. They eventually offered me the chance to come to the US in 2012 to cover political and economic news affecting the Asia Pacific region. I jumped at the opportunity.

After a couple years, Sina managed to lure me away from Caixin, in large part due to the influence and reach they have in the Chinese market. Sina is one of the largest online presences in the world, with a global Alexa rank of 13, and over 100 million daily pageviews. They also control Weibo, basically Chinese Twitter, with over 200 million users. This may seem like a crazy amount, but China's explosive growth favored greater success for fewer companies, meaning much less variety for readers.

In this US electoral process, rather than focusing on the traditional narrative, we wanted to dig deeper into the American public's view of the process. Why people are angry? Why there's such a strong Bernie grassroots movement? Most Asian media isn't much different from American media in this regard? There's a huge focus on the two-party power players, but rarely do they dig much deeper. Not to throw anyone under the bus, but I've noticed many Chinese news outlet did little more than roughly translate Western media articles. I wanted to help break this mold, write American story through an Chinese Journalist eye and perspective, and what I've seen recently both in China and the US has given me a lot of hope for the future.

Since the 2012 election, we've seen an explosion in the amount of content being put out there by non-traditional sources on overlooked topics. We see it on Weibo, Twitter, Wechat and blogging platforms. More and more citizens, from both countries, are becoming involved and sharing their views with the rest of the electorate. For example, we've seen a ton of Chinese students in America documenting their experiences through social media and live-streaming. The Chinese public now has a lot more options on where to get their content.

This has inspired us at Sina to focus on more of this non-traditional news. I spend as much time engaging on social media and live-streaming events as I do relaying breaking news to our Beijing-based editors. We've put a lot more time into making short documentaries. These are the kinds of things we've been focusing on when covering the 2016 election.

***

My experiences with the election this time around have been as varied as the ways I try to report them. For example, there's been a huge difference in feel between the different rallies and conventions I've been to. Hillary's campaign is very organized and composed. I was lucky enough to be the first Chinese journalist to tour the Hillary HQ in New York, by reaching out to their field organizer and then their AAPI Director. The headquarters was lively and welcoming. And in private chats, employees were passionate and kind. However, Hillary and DNC reps have always seemed to stick to the script in interviews, which often makes them seem stiff or boring. They never really fire off the cuff, which is obviously the polar opposite of Trump's rhetoric.

A Bernie Sanders town hall I attended had an even friendlier feel. There were no strict entry procedures or confrontations among the mostly very young crowd. Everyone was welcome, and sincerely discussed topics affecting their communities. I was thrilled by one of his campaign staff by greeting me by name. A congenial feeling permeated the event.

To be completely honest, what I experienced at Trump's Radford University rally this February was much more uncomfortable. If I had to pick a word to describe it, it would be contentious. All foreign media were denied access at the door, and were stuck covering the clash between protestors and supporters outside. I'd guess 99% of the supporters were white. People were constantly being kicked out; supporters were chanting “Build the Wall”. It was absolute chaos.

After the Radford University event, I decided I wanted to know more about any minority groups, especially Chinese, which may be supporting Trump. I thought they would be extremely rare, but after asking for some help from relatives in New York, I managed to discover the Chinese Americans for Trump group. By participating very early on in the formation of the group, I was able to gain their trust and get them to open up about their motivations. Operating mostly on WeChat, and in Chinese, they are largely first generation immigrants, many with green cards earned through real estate investment. As time went on and they gained more exposure, however, they became far more elitist and controlling in how they dealt with the media. I started to see why they were supporting Trump.

After everything I'd seen, I didn't know exactly what to expect going into the RNC, but I had a feeling it would be The Trump Show. I wasn't wrong. Speaking to Republicans there, I got the distinct feeling that they were only supporting him because they felt they had to. You know all about the various controversies from the event, but these conversations with everyday Republicans were what really hit home the most for me.

At the DNC, I was of course expecting The Hillary Show. I was surprised to discover that a very high percentage were there for The Bernie Show. Walking around, seeking out brief interviews, it was actually difficult to locate Hillary supporters. This Bernie/Hillary battle made for a much more chaotic convention than I expected.

***

Despite all this, there is a large contrast in how the Chinese public sees these candidates. They know of Hillary's experience as Secretary of State and her strong stances on South China Sea policy and human rights. Whenever there’s something like a Weibo poll, there's always a very negative impression of Hillary.

Trump, on the other hand, is actually quite popular. People know him as a successful businessman. In Chinese culture, there is a strong respect for those who achieve success in business, especially in things like real estate. And while he’s not exactly a self-made man, many Chinese see him that way. They also think he’s fun to watch. But sadly, the biggest selling point for Trump among the Chinese is the chaos that he’s brought to this election. State media has compared the rise of Trump to that of Hitler or Mussolini, emphasizing the dangers of democracy, and many members of the public enjoy seeing the US electoral process as a joke.

I am aware that what you’ve heard from me so far makes me sound decidedly anti-Trump, but I still believe I’m neutral. There are strengths and weaknesses to all the candidates, but it’s difficult for me to ignore the negativity that’s come from Trump’s rhetoric. In my opinion, it’s a huge over simplification. We’re losing jobs, China’s fault. Factories are closing, China’s fault. These are complex, global issues we’re talking about here. China and the US do not exist in a vacuum. I think this will definitely stifle improvements in Sino-US relations.

***

People always ask me about what drives Chinese Interest in this US election, and what ways they differ from Americans on some of the key issues.

Economically and geopolitically, the Chinese are obviously very interested in news that concerns them specifically. One such example would be changes within the US economy or economic policy. Any events that change the dynamic between the two greatest superpowers are going to be of utmost importance to the Chinese. A couple examples would be South China Sea, the TPP, and accusations of Russian hacking of the DNC. Through the TPP, American allies are looking to strengthen American engagement in the region in order to stifle the growth of Chinese influence. The result of the TPP negotiation will directly affect the Asia Pacific power dynamic, so this is a key issue for Chinese readers.

The Russian DNC hacking accusations are also important to the Chinese, and not just because of a sort of solidarity with Russia in being a constant scapegoat for US cyber security blunders. The American reaction, specifically Hillary's, to this event is what concerns them most. Clinton stated that the US would “treat cyber-attacks just like any other attack”, threatening “political, economic, and military responses”. The Chinese view this is an immature and dangerous response, as do many Americans it seems. Obama's cyber security policy, on the other hand, stresses deterrence and proportional response. This is certainly a contributing factor in the Chinese being much more favorable towards Obama than Clinton.

Now, equally as notable are social dynamic issues, of huge importance in America, which the Chinese just don't seem to care much about. Things like racism or rhetoric against Muslim communities just aren't seen as important. The idea of “racism” is a tricky one for the Chinese, as it can be with other non-melting-pot countries. Countries like China and Japan have been described as being fairly xenophobic. And while xenophobia doesn't necessarily mean physical characteristics, the demographics of places like China are mostly uniform. There may be large cultural differences across China's different regions, but physically, they look mostly the same. So for the Chinese, especially those outside tier 1 cities with large international presences, the idea of racism being a core issue is completely foreign.

Discrimination against Muslims is a touchier subject in China than general racism. While racism might be seen as a non-issue, the Muslim issue is a sensitive one. There are ongoing tensions between China and their Xinjiang Autonomous Region, home to many Chinese ethnic minorities, many which are Muslim. The government's treatment of these peoples, for example, outlawing two dozen names that they considered “too Muslim”, or prohibiting men from having beards, would suggest that most Chinese would not really be phased by Trump's anti-Muslim rhetoric.

***

Last, let me just talk a little bit about the media's role in this election process. Many people have asked how we decide or sense what the interests of the Chinese public are. Back in 2012, I would have said that we don't really look to or poll the public on what they'd want to see and read. But with the advent of social media and blogging, it's easy for us to tell what issues are most important to Chinese society.

When I take a step back and look at the whole of the media industry, I see a lot of similarities between the US and China. The majority of Chinese media is state-run, and as a result, you often see a very negative reaction to the viability of Democracy. However, in many cases, I don't see the US media as much better. There are outlets with extreme left or right biases, and most convey a negative message about the way Chinese politics operates.

I cannot take sides. I'm sure it's partially because as a Taiwanese person, I have a more neutral view. But I've also drawn huge inspiration from honest and unbiased media sources in both the US and China. They have shown me that it's possible to break from this idea of taking sides and only reporting the negative. As I said before, a new generation of individual new media journalists has sprung up recently, and I feel I owe it to them and to my readers to report in a responsible and unbiased manner by sticking to the fact I see in the front line.

《關聯閱讀》
【美國總統大選】「覺醒鄉民」的逆襲,與「美國夢」的矯情
【美國總統大選】一窺堂奧──我的美國大選選務經驗
川普與項羽──美國總統大選辯論,「性格決定命運」

《作品推薦》
「來,讓我看看哪個是我最愛的記者.....」──川普記者會,或是「粉絲見面會」?(上)
「反攻大陸」與「救救台灣」

 

執行編輯:Vincent
核稿編輯:張翔一

Photo Credit:唐家婕 提供

 畢業就出國