Tuesday, March 14, 2006

On-the-Record, Off-the-Record

I want to clarify one point in my letter to the Washington Post. Peter Goodman and I had a phone conversation concerning the Hunan trial. At no time did he, or I, state or promise that our conversation was not on-the-record. He did not violate his journalistic integrity in any way by quoting my words. My statement was made after the question-answer portion at the beginning of the interview, and given my inexperience in these matters, I was no longer "on guard" and spoke with less articulation. I apologize for the confusion on this point.

24 comments:

Scott and Karen said...

Oh good Lord. Quit stalking his blog if you're so ticked, Jenna. Give it a freaking rest already and step.off.the.soapbox. Our government can be "corrupt" some times but I still live in the USA. China *may* suffer from corrupt officials heading / partaking in the adoption process but we still traveled to China to bring our daughter home. Sheesh. I feel like I'm back in junior high school.

~Karen

JoAnn Stringer said...

Jenna, go get a life. Brian does not have "developing credibility issues" with anyone but you and that anonymous groupie of yours who has commented on the other entries.

Brian's word is his bond. Period.

I'm with Jenna said...

Karen,
To quote Brian from this blog:
"There are several possible responses that most people have when confronted with contradictory information on firmly held beliefs...: Accept the information and modify a belief; seek to negate the new information by impuning the character and motives of the messenger; test the new information against previously available knowledge, or conduct personal research."

It is clear which one you have chosen.

Anonymous said...

A train wreck indeed.

But Jenna brings up a good point, and I support her despite the emotional retorts.

Great thing about our country is that we can question things and challenge validity, and not be swayed into buying into everything we read just because of popular support.

(and I think Brian is a nice guy! It sounds like Jenna thinks so too, but I may be in the minority on that one!)

I wonder if the pro-Brian crowd are vehement on behalf of their children, or Brian. At the core of this issue is the Truth of our children.

As such, I can understand the feeling of negativity towards anyone who "maligns" a friend, but I for one want to be fair most of all for my daughter. In that light, I believe Jenna's probing is just and deserving, in order to best gain a picture of what to present to my daughter as Truth.

Chuck T said...

The confusion that Brian experienced is fairly common.

Part of my job is media training people and one of the things we warn them about is the "relaxed" portion of the conversation. When it's in-person it's sometimes after the reporter has put the notebook away and you're walking to the elevator. That's often when the best quotes come.

My clients will often think they're "off the record" at that point, and use that phrase in conversation. I'm just glad that Brian realized this himself.

The only thing he may be guilty of is sending the letter too quickly, but I don't believe it goes to his credibility at all.

Anonymous said...

Jenna,
You have done nothing but question all his inaccuracies and yet his adoring fans insist on hurling mud at you. I really appreciate your posts and perservence despite their childish behavior.

C

JoAnn said...

Jenna said: I wonder why there is such a resistance here to learning the truth?

Because, Jenna, we who have known Brian and followed his work know the truth already and it's plain to see if you'd read his website.

We give him the name of our child, their SWI, the foster family name if we have it, their finding place. He researches -- that is, goes to the place, looks in the files, checks the newspaper, interviews the people and reports back to us. That's research, my dear. And it's in China. Hence, Research-China. And .org, which you keep bringing up, heck anyone can be an .org. My family website was .org because .com was taken. And, BTW, .com doesn't always mean commercial anymore than .org mean organization.

What else do you want to know? Have you even READ his website and why and how he got started on this service?

JoAnn

Anonymous said...

Jenna,
Seriously, are you that upset with Mr. Stuy? Are you not more upset with the WP article? Wouldn't your time be better spent, wouldn't all of our time be better spent, getting to the bottom of Mr. Goodman's motivation? He was not serving the facts. He was not serving these precious children. He was not serving the system itself. He was serving sensationalism. This is what makes me angry. Why are you stuck on the word "researcher"? Get behind a bigger problem. What motivated Mr. Goodman to write this and why do most of the people and angencies quoted in this article feel victimized by the mis-use of their words?

Research-China.Org said...

OK Jenna, here are the answers you seek. I am in China,and since blogs are blocked in China, I am unable to post comments. But I am having this comment forwarded from the States.

Here are the answers:

Q) Mr. Stuy has set himself up as an authority of sorts. He blogs that the Chinese don't value life. He blogs that because the Chinese eat meat which is bought 'off the hoof' that they are surrounded by death and thus are desensitized to it.

A) I have never said that all China disrespects life. I said that as a general cultural value, animal, and often human life is not protected, appreciated, and valued as we do in the West. I was not assigning any moral judgments to this (although I obviously have feelings on this), simply using it to illustrate another point (which was apparently lost in the discussion) that culturally we look at things differently than the Chinese do. We, for example, believe that our children's birth mothers MUST miss their abandoned children every day, feeling a deep sense of loss. We expect this because that's how WE would feel. But I propose that just because WE feel a certain way, we can't project that on others and assume that they feel the same way.

It is dangerous to make broad generalizations, and I am perfectly aware that for every statement there will be exceptions. But in general, my experience is that life is not valued or protected in China as it is in the West. Hundreds of newspaper stories and personal experience convinces me of this.

Q) He does a survey of 30 some orphanages and from that draws sweeping conclusions, even though his research methods don't stand up statistically.

A) I defy anyone to disprove my thesis on this issue. In addition to my sample, I have visited in excess of 50 other orphanages (some of which were also in my sample) and am commonly told that the orphanages involved in international adoption prefer adopting to foreigners. Usually the reason given is the belief that the children will have better lives. Whatever the reason, the bias is profoundly there.

Q) And by calling his group Research-China, he sets himself up as a researcher and an authority. And the media has picked up on it. Along with that, though, comes enormous responsibility in what he says.

A) I agree, and that is why I try to write concisely and clearly. When deciding on a name and website, one of course tries to chose a name that will be easily remembered and descriptive of the business. As JoAnn points out, I research children's histories in China. Com was not available, and .tv, info, and others are not easily remembered, so .org was taken. Contrary to some people, .org in no way indicates a non-profit organization.

Am I an authority? Well, again I refer to knowledge that comes from spending as much time in China as I have, constantly doing activities that directly relate to the lives of children adopted from here. I have met with birth parents, foster parents, directors, finders, doctors, etc., nearly everyone involved with abandoned children in China. My wife is native Chinese, providing me with much needed cultural input. I have adopted children as a married person, single person, and as a domestic adoption. I think I know that process from every angle also. So, I leave it to you decide if I know what I am talking about or not. The beauty of blogs is that one is free to post contrary comments, and that is the primary reason my blogs are uncensured.

I hope these answers satisfy your curiosity.

Anonymous said...

Geez. I wonder if Jenna is trying set herself up as a competitor. Give it a rest, Jenna. Brian got a little careless and then got steamrollered. People who buy ink by the barrel and paper by the ton are good at that. Don't let anyone tell you reporters and editors don't have agendas. And Brian will no doubt be much more careful next time (not that it will do any good).

Edie McGee, Chinamom and cynic

Anonymous said...

I think you're a little overly awed by "university research." Speaking as a spouse to a university prof, and someone who's been intimately observing the whole tenure/publish-or-perish scenario for almost 3 decades now -- the "research" done in the social sciences is not always as rock-solid and sterling as you seem to believe. (We are talking about interviews with people, not clinical trials of a drug.)

I don't think Brian's a perfect guy. I strongly admire his efforts to find answers however, and to get the issue of prejudice against domestic adoption among china orphanage directors out in the open.

I do not know why anyone feels threatened by these examinations, unless they fear the 'baby pipeline' is going to shut down. Examinations of corruption in adoption are needed; China is not immune; and it is not automatically "better" for a kid to be adopted to the West when a domestic family would've been available.

Julie H

Anonymous said...

I was about to stick up for Jenna and her perseverence in asking for clarification without resorting to name calling, but in her recent post (assuming I-got-all-the-answers.org is Jenna), she is now beginning to look like a troll, as she resorts to sarcasm and name-calling.

Either way, I'm glad Brian was able to respond. He's in a tough situation, and seems to be inexperienced in dealing with the press. I chalk the whole on/off the record thing up to inexperience. I presume the final clarification absolving Mr. Goodman and the WP was required when Brian realized that what he may have thought was "off the record" was really fair game.

On the other hand. I think that Jenna correctly pointed out that other posters were just bullying and name-calling, which did not do anything to promote their views.

Sure Brian's research methods are flawed, but he's not publishing in a peer reviewed journal here. Mostly I think that what writes about is from intuition and personal experience and has a good deal of value - because he's there in China and deals with all these different aspects of adoption.

And while he may try to keep it out, I'm sure that personal bias (as an adoptive parent himself for example) will sometimes creep in and affect his views and conclusions.

I think Brian is a great resource and I am thankful for what he does, but what he says is not the last word on the TRUTH about adoption in China. I believe it is the truth as he sees it.

Brian, keep up the good work.

Jenna, I am grateful to you for asking and re-asking your questions - but your response to the answers leaves a little to be desired.

I think we should all encourage a little healthy questioning and not resort to bullying or name-calling.

-Jonah

Anonymous said...

I really feel that the sad part of all this bickering is that the WP article lists this site for people to come and read. What a nice inside look into the adoption community we are all presenting. Yes some can question and have different opinions and ideals, but lets act a bit more mature for all of our best interests.

Anonymous said...

Folks, the discussion is over. The Washington Post (through the AP) has a story confirming that child abduction is not tied into international adoption.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/03/15/AR2006031502706.html

As for this discussion, Brian admits that he made mistakes during his discussion with Goodman. That's easy to do; reporters act as a friend and it's easy to forget that they may have an agenda or, at the least, a story to write. I'm certain that he will be MUCH more careful in the future.

There is no question the Goodman article was damaging, and I believe it was so intended. Luckily, as pertains to IA, it was inaccurate. Let's all calm down and concentrate on getting the word out: domestic and IA adoption is great for kids if it's done responsibly. Let's stop eating our own here.

Anonymous said...

The updated article said no trafficked kids had been adopted to the U.S.

Quoting the article here...
"Chinese state media say some babies were adopted by foreigners "who made donations" to the welfare homes."

So ... it's ok if it's some adoptive family in Australia, Canada, Spain that's having to deal with this, just not any of "our own?"

Oh, my friends, for some people this is not over. Before we're so quick to get back "to normal," I think this deserves a bit of pondering.

Julie H

Jonah said...

My apologies to Jenna for the mistaken identity. I'm glad that you asked and re-asked your questions, and I'm saddened by the treatment you received here. Looking back at your posts, I see that you were a little irked, but you stayed on-point and were never opprobrious (had to look that one up :-). Indeed, I think that those who
characterized you as "in need of a life", "a scorned girlfriend", "a crazy lady" and whatever else, owe you an apology too. I believe it was immature and undeserved.

I think some of the answers that Brian provided (like about the name research-china.org) were obvious to those who have been reading his blog for a while. Your posing some of these "obvious" questions, interpreting some of Brian's writing as flip-flopping (addressed below) and questioning Mr.Stuy's credibility, probably incited some ire - but that's still no excuse for name-calling.

I don't think that Brian is being cagey or pretending to be something he's not (as you seem to imply) by choosing research-china.org. I think most of us could have derived his answer for you, and I hope it clears things up a bit. I wouldn't have thought of the word "research" as being ambiguous, but of course, the research Brian does for his work is more akin to say "genealogical research" that many people with no advanced degree do every day.

But you don't need a PHD to do scholarly research either. There are plenty of people without advanced degrees that do it and do it well. You don't even need any formal training, but it probably helps.

The survey that Brian did and reported on in his blog is certainly a foray into scholarly research. I'm curious if Brian decided to do this on his own initiative and out of his own pocket or if there was a source of funding. Anyway, I'm no expert on poll-taking or statistics, but this is a bona fide dataset that he generated. I'm not knowledgeable enough to comment on the statistical validity of his conclusions, but he has certainly made a contribution just by collecting and publishing (on this blog) the data.

And of course, his thesis (that is, his hypothesis, not his dissertation) cannot be disproved (or proved for that matter) unless someone were to do a more detailed study. Bravo Brian for the work you have done - no one else seems to be doing it right now.

I would say that Brian's "research methods" actually seem pretty darned good. Now, the data analysis may not be up to snuff and his conclusions may not be statistically valid, but that doesn't mean the conclusions are wrong - just not proven yet. In other words, just because the features found in the data that back up Brian's conclusions may not be statistically significant does not mean the conclusions are wrong.

So while it may not be "proven" in a logical sense, I would bet that Brian's thesis is probably correct based on the data AND Brian's intuition.

But Jenna, you also seemed to be a little slanted and over-picky in your criticism, and that probably upset some of Brian's "fans" too.

For example, you talked of being "increasingly disenchanted with [Mr Stuy's] changing story". I think in this case, you reached to interpret his words the way you wanted. In fact, in his original PS, his letter, and his final on/off the record comment, I think Mr. Stuy has been consistent.

His PS stated that his corruption comment was in reference to the local Chinese gov't, not about the orphanage system. In his letter he added that: as well as this comment being about the local gov't, he also THOUGHT he was speaking off-the record when he said it.

Aside: I was recently at a talk given by a science journalist to scientists specifically to explain to them about what is considered on/off the record. The gist was that pretty much anything you say to a journalist in or out of the interview is fair game, and the only speech protected as off-the-record is during a very specially delineated exchange where both parties agree to the comments therein being off the record. Apparently, it's not even good enough if you just spit out "off the record, ...". I can easily believe that Mr. Stuy (inexperienced with journalists) might have thought that comments made after the actual interview were off the record. As someone pointed out, the best quotes usually come after the interview when the interviewee is off their guard.

Anyway, someone (maybe Mr. Goodman) probably informed Brian about the journalistic code delineating what is on/off the record, and he needed to clarify to us and everyone else that while HE may have thought he was speaking off the record, it turns out that legally, because neither he nor Mr. Goodman made a specific request or promise about it, everything in the entire conversation, before, during and after the actual interview was fair game for printing.

That all seems pretty consistent to me.

Anyway, sorry for dragging on sooo long.

I thank Brian for sharing his thoughts with us, staying calm, cool and polite and answering many of the questions that we post. I look forward to his blogs and find them very valuable. I appreciate a spirited but courteous dialog - Thank you Jenna. I'm upset by bullying and name calling. I hope we can be more civil from now on.

-Jonah

Anonymous said...

Mr. Stuy, thank you for answering some of my questions. Unfortunately, all of my posts that I wrote asking you questions have been deleted, so I cannot refer you back to some of the other questions that you did not answer.

Sadly, though you say you welcome an exchange of views, my posts are gone, yet every single post that called me names, that bullied me, that demeaned me as a human being are all allowed to stand. That is disappointing when all I did was respectfully persist in asking questions about some of the inconsistencies I saw and wondered about.

Jonah, I do not know what "I have all the answers dot org" wrote as that post is gone as well, but I can assure you that it was NOT me who wrote it.
From your description, the individual apparently posed as me and wrote with sarcasm and name-calling.

In fact, I just tonight (apparently about 24 hours after Mr. Stuy posted a response) came to the site to see if anything further had been written. That's when I discovered his post to me, and that apparently someone posed as me and wrote some ugly things. Perhaps that is why everything that I wrote has vanished as well - though that seems unfair since the tenor of my posts did not resort to the name-calling, mud-slinging and bullying that has been directed my way over the last few days. I've deplored the ad-hominem attacks and bullying mindset, so I certainly would not resort to that.

Interesting that THOSE posts have all been allowed to stand, but my posts asking honest, clarifying questions are gone. Why is that?

I was about to write a thoughtful response to Mr. Stuy's kind response. However, given that he, or someone on his behalf has removed every single post that I've written, why bother? I wonder, again, what y'all are so threatened by?

Research thrives when it can stand up to the light of day. It doesn't silence those who ask genuine questions or who are troubled by inconsistencies. It welcomes an honest exchange of views and thoughts; it doesn't censor them.

To the several kind folk who thanked me for the manner in which I persisted, with respect and with a decided lack of personal attacks, thank you so much.

To the person/s who apparently came on after Mr. Stuy wrote his response to me and apparently
wrote some ugly things as though you were me,
that is really quite pathetic. It only reflects on you.

Jenna

Ray said...

Jenna,

If you get yourself a Blogger account and a username and stop posting anonymously, you wouldn't have the problem of someone posing as you.

Probably the reason your comments were deleted were because they asked the same things over and over and Mr. Stuy has addressed them. Is Mr. Stuy perfect? No, but who is? Does his work constitute research? Depends on how you define it. I bought a new car last year. I checked dozens of web sites, talked to about a half dozen dealers, test drove a few cars, etc. Did I do research? Well, none of my findings were published and no one paid me for it, but I think I did a fair amount of research into my purchase. I've also done experiments in low-temperature aluminum hyperconductors, which results have been published in conference proceedings. That's research, too.

Seems to me you've imposed a definition of research on Mr. Stuy that he apparently doesn't measure up too. However, he does provide a service to adoptive families that they are willing to compensate him for. That's business. It may not meet your definition of "research", but that's your problem.

Any other questions?

Jonah said...

What is going on!!!!

Is this a blog about China and Adoption in China, or is it one residing in China and subject to state censorship?

I think it is unconscionable that Jenna’s posts were expunged. They contained NO foul language, NO abuse or name calling, nothing other than pointed questions. Questions, that I felt sure would be answered satisfactorily if everyone else could just refrain from knee-jerk reactions and name-calling. I think it is worse still that the other posts were left alone, leaving the casual reader to believe that Jenna’s posts must have been removed because they were somehow obscene. Please, if you’re going to remove Jenna’s posts, just remove everything and have done.

And who removed the posts? According to blogspot.com, it seems that only the owner of the blog or those with administration privileges to the account may remove a post. That would mean Brian or someone entrusted by Brian. No doubt the latter, as Brian is in China and can’t even post directly to his own blog right now.

Brian, was this censorship sanctioned by you? Please say it ain’t so. I am left with a bad taste in my mouth over this. I think full disclosure about why these posts were removed is warranted and deserved, or as Jenna points out, why bother having a comment section at all.

Will this post be deleted as well?

If this post sticks around and Jenna is still around to read it, I want to clear something up:

The post from "I have all the answers dot org" was unsigned, and I think not a deliberate attempt to pose as Jenna. I assume now it was from the poster previously signed as “I’m with Jenna”. It was dripping with sarcasm, but not foul language. The name-calling I referred to was no worse than a reference to P.T. Barnum. In all honesty, not as bad as most of the responses to Jenna. And in fact, she apologized for this behavior immediately after my post and confirmed she (he?) was not Jenna. I have not seen any of the others apologize for their mud-slinging.

My web browser had actually cached the whole thing and when I went to read the most recent posts, I had to do a reload to actually see them. I wish I had cut/pasted the whole dialog before I did that. Now it’s gone.

Brian or moderators, please post an explanation. Thanks.

-Jonah

Anonymous said...

Jonah, thank you.

The irony is that Mr. Stuy had just posted, "The beauty of blogs is that one is free to post contrary comments, and that is the primary reason my blogs are uncensured."

And yet, whoosh, my posts were immediately zapped.

This experience has been disheartening. Many of Mr. Stuy's supporters have been nothing but downright mean and rude to me.

And now this.

Dare I ask: Which is it, Mr. Stuy, censored blogs or uncensored? Your words say one thing, the actions by someone on your behalf say another.

Jonah, thanks again - truly.

Jenna

Research-China.Org said...

Jenna,
You have posted your comments all over my blog, asking the same questions over and over, which I have answered. I removed the redundant postings you had on this article because they were just that - redundant - and they were promoting responses that I believe took away from the focus of this blog. You will note that I have also removed the posts that only took cheap shots at you.

You wrote:
"The irony is that Mr. Stuy had just posted, "The beauty of blogs is that one is free to post contrary comments, and that is the primary reason my blogs are uncensured."

And yet, whoosh, my posts were immediately zapped."

You have repeatedly gone beyond the point of contrary comments and seem to be attempting to create a firestorm to discredit me and my work. I don't know the foundation for your vendetta. Perhaps you could enlighten me? Are you an adoptive parent, or one waiting? Do you work in the adoption profession? Who are you and what brings you to my blog?

As far as eliminating comments, I have a right to do with my blog as I choose. I am always open to constructive discussion that enlightens all of us. I am not open to the cyber-bullying that your repeated posting of the same issues instigates, either as the recipient or as a by-stander.

Brian

Anonymous said...

Interesting, Brian. You said that you're in China and can't read the comments in your blog. Now you say that you removed Jenna's posts which means you CAN read the comments in your blog.

Another inconsistency?

Tom

Ray said...

Tom,

If you had scrolled up a bit, you would have read this post from Brian:

OK Jenna, here are the answers you seek. I am in China,and since blogs are blocked in China, I am unable to post comments. But I am having this comment forwarded from the States.

So you see, it is possible for Brian to read and post comments, albeit in a roundabout way. No inconsistency.

Anonymous said...

Ray,

You missed the point, but hey, that's okay.

Tom