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News on 'mother prioritizing car to baby' resurfaces on Weibo

An old news item from January this year is making another round on Weibo, China’s micro-blogging social platform, though it has failed to generate much discussion among the users.

The story was first reported by the media on January 17. The original version of the story was like this: A careless young mother in Shanghai left her car key as well as her one-and-a-half-year-old baby inside the car while she herself went out. The car automatically got locked. The young mother was forced to call the police instead of breaking the car window to rescue her baby because her mother, who they were visiting, wouldn’t allow it.

This "old" photo of the trapped baby made many people indignant. Photo:

Even the police and the firemen couldn’t change the old woman’s mind, who insisted to have the car unlocked, saying that it would be “inconvenient” to drive the car once the windows are broken. By the time the locksmith came, the baby was crying loudly and vomiting because of the prolonged stay inside the confined space. The police eventually managed to get the baby out by prying open the window and retrieving the key with a hook.

The latest version of this news, which has been forwarded by many major media outlets' official Weibo, including Sina, Fawan (literally legal system evening news), Oriental Morning Post, and Guangzhou Daily, didn’t  mention the existence of the grandmother and put the blame entirely on the young mother, who, according to the previous report, did not break the car window only because she was prevented to do so. Also included in their posts was a clip of Anhui TV’s report, dated January 18.

Though many Weibo fans, possibly as careless as the young mother, took the posts as real news and left many angry comments, targeting the Shanghaians who, unfortunately, have a reputation for being stingy, not everyone was deceived. A lot of Weibo users, many of whom are from Shanghai, turned the table on the media by pointing out their mistake of reusing old material as news.

@SH Zhenlong (SH震龙): Oriental Morning News is disseminatng an old news from West China Metropolis Daily. It’s getting easier and easier to be a journalist now!

@ lisaYa: In this world of fast moving consumer goods, be it big or small, the news just comes and goes. The media people, busy with catching people’s eyes, ignore the fact-checking. And the public reads whatever they provide at a glance, and get amused or angry briefly. How many really care? In an age where there is no moral bottom line or sound legal system, it is only natural that things are in a mess.

@Moon rises on the China sea (中华海上明月): Yeah, to use Weibo as a marketing device, the media is acting like a fool. Can’t you at least check before you do it?

@This name is snatched (该昵称已经被抢注): Publishing the news of January now, are you a time machine or do you have the Alzheimer’s disease? Even in this new age of we-media (grassroots journalism), many people still rely on the official media outlets as their primary information source. It is still the responsibility of the journalists to provide genuine information and not to mislead the public. It could have been an honest mistake. But the mistake was made by so many media at the same time, which is bound to raise some eye brows. Is it supposed to divert the public attention from something else, thus taking some heat off? Well, that doesn't seem to be working.

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