First draft PS, criticism highly appreciated.

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First draft PS, criticism highly appreciated.

Postby rachelwang712 » Mon Oct 10, 2011 9:48 am

When I first started to study law, I thought the most important thing is facts and people would voluntarily choose a right path as long as they were presented facts. However, my experience in the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami have greatly shaken this belief. After this experience, it occurred to me for the first time that sometimes facts matter less than the representation of them.

Studying as an exchange student in Tokyo when the earthquake hit Japan, I was entirely safe in my dorm. Fortunately Tokyo was only briefly affected, returning gradually to its normal order the very next day despite occasional aftershocks. However, it was the panic that people and especially foreigners went into that frightened me most in the days after the earthquake. People began to flee the country as quickly as they could despite reassurance by the government repeatedly that everything was being restored. By the end of the fifth day after the earthquake, all planes from Tokyo to Shanghai were fully booked and my friends even travelled all the way to Osaka to take a flight. The price of the tickets, needless to say, saw a ten-fold increase.

It then struck me even more that the main culprit behind that mess is nothing but media and Internet. My friends were demanding to return to China because their parents were horrified by stories in Chinese newspapers about how dangerous Tokyo was but hardly anything was true in these stories. One of my Singaporean friends was too scared to leave his room as he saw a post from twitter that radioactivity was all over Tokyo, killing every living creature. Also I experienced how efforts to explain away these rumors turned out futile. Distrust against government broke out, rendering almost every moves of government seem an effort to conceal truth. Some even went into an extreme thinking that if government says it is safe, then it must be dangerous.

I myself tried to stay unaffected by the stories in media. As an intern journalist for Nanfang Zhoumo, a newspaper that enjoy national circulation in China, I wrote to my editor about what life was truly like in Tokyo. I spoke of no need to escape in my interview with a journalist from the Guardian. However, reading the quotes of mine in the published stories, I was irritated to find how the meaning of my words were distorted. Frustrated, I turned away from mass media and sought solution via twitter and weibo, a Chinese version of twitter. I took pictures of how stores were open normally and how people resumed their daily life. Besides that, I uploaded reports about radioactivity released daily by academic institutions and NGOs. Disappointedly it worked only to some extent. Some of my followers commented that I must be some government official whereas those who knew me in person thanked me for the comfort provided by my posts. However my microblog was perceived, my followers were few compared to the whole population in Japan. People were still escaping in terror. Locals grew resentful towards foreigners who according to them came to Japan solely for profit and evade the very instant Japan is in danger. Almost everyday I read about Internet quarrels between Japanese and foreigners especially Chinese and Koreans.

Through this experience I was deeply impressed by the influence of how facts could be represented and misrepresented in modern society. I started to ponder upon issues such as how to differentiate faithful representation and misleading misrepresentation, and how the latter is so often used to achieve certain effects. I have not found answers to all these questions but I do have changed in my own perception. When reading a newspaper or watching a documentary, anything that is alledgedly real, before jumping to belief, I would reflect what is shown and what is hidden, as well as how this arrangement reveals the intention and ideology of the author or the producer. What’s more, as a heavy user of SNS, I began to take time to do fact-checking before I retweet any posts or recommend them to my friends.

At the same time, I was taking a seminar on law. Doing research on several cases that my professor gave us, I suddenly realized what I experienced can also be said about law. Although it seems that law is nothing but a fair and objective judgment based on facts, a totally different set of reading of facts would lead to different sometimes conflictory judgments. A brief look at any Supreme Court decision and a close reading of both majority and dissents would reveal that. Therefore an important task for a judge would be to decide which representation is more faithful to facts and more in accordance with law. I have not developed a mature skill for this decision but this finding has made law even more appealing to me.

Half a year after the earthquake, I am in Shanghai preparing to apply for a graduate school. Eager to learn more about law and hopeful that my experience would prepare me at least in part for law school, I am determined to choose law school.

any advice will be appreciated. Million thx:)

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Re: First draft PS, criticism highly appreciated.

Postby CanadianWolf » Mon Oct 10, 2011 12:27 pm

Somewhere between terrible & not good. This essay portrays you as a bit naive & immature. Also, ironically, you have at least one fact wrong since the Japanese government was found to have been untruthful about the extent of damage & danger during this crisis.

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Re: First draft PS, criticism highly appreciated.

Postby Ruxin1 » Mon Oct 10, 2011 12:29 pm

it's sounds more like an application to a journalism program than a story that leads you to law school.

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Re: First draft PS, criticism highly appreciated.

Postby Ernert » Mon Oct 10, 2011 12:43 pm

B.Web wrote:it's sounds more like an application to a journalism program than a story that leads you to law school.

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Re: First draft PS, criticism highly appreciated.

Postby Ersatz Haderach » Mon Oct 10, 2011 2:59 pm

I don't think this is that bad. It's poorly executed, not poorly conceived. Your basic thesis is that you're interested in impartial objective analysis and did not find this in your experience as a journalism student. I get it; it's just not a great reason by itself. You spend too much time talking about Tokyo. Cut it down by half if you can. Tell us some more about you and less about your Weibo. Also, I have to echo CanadianWolf to some extent - the Japanese government did lie, so your efforts to calm the panic were only half-justified. You might include that truth in here as well, since it would show you acknowledge you have a lot to learn.

You need someone to line edit your entire essay because your overall English writing skills need some work. You use adverbs incorrectly, you have singular/plural disagreement issues, you seem to hate the word 'the', and you use too many words.

For example, "I myself tried to stay unaffected by the stories in media." = "I tried to remain objective."

This is going to take some time, but don't be too discouraged, I know a lot of Chinese students who have done very well despite sharing your language handicaps.

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Re: First draft PS, criticism highly appreciated.

Postby rachelwang712 » Mon Oct 10, 2011 7:05 pm

many thanks for all the replies here. I will revise it to include more personal stuff.
btw, I am not arguing for Jap gvt though. It is the mass media that I am complaining about. But it does seem that I did not make myself clear enough.

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