Global Times: “If Angelina Jolie Had Eaten This Way, Would She Still Have Breasts Removed?”

Chinese state tabloid Global Times published a peculiar headline on March 6 in response to a recent article by The Guardian on how following a Mediterranean diet could help reduce the risk of contracting an aggressive type of breast cancer. The Chinese headline “If Angelina Jolie had eaten this way, would she still have needed a surgery to have her breasts removed?” soon angered netizens.

A new study by Maastricht University published in the International Journal of Cancer made headlines on March 6. Journalist Haroon Siddique featured the study in The Guardian, writing that following a Mediterranean diet (rich in nuts, fruits, fish, olive oil and vegetables) could help reduce the risk of contracting one of the agressive types of breast cancer by 40%.

The study found a strong connection between closely following a Mediterranean diet and a lowered risk for oestrogen-receptor-negative breast cancer among postmenopausal women.

The news was taken over by the state-run Chinese newspaper Global Times with a peculiar headline, saying: “If Angelina Jolie Had Eaten This Way, Would She Still Have Needed A Surgery To Have Her Breast Removed?” (“如果早这么吃,安吉丽娜•朱莉还需要做胸部切除手术吗”).

The headline soon triggered angry reactions, with a top comment saying: “What a disgusting headline this is!”

Although the article mentioned the Dutch research, it did not include any reference to Angelina Jolie.

The American actress Angelina Jolie publicly announced that she underwent a preventive double mastectomy in 2013. Jolie explained her “medical choice” in the New York Times, saying that she had a sharp increase of developing breast cancer and ovarian cancer due to the “faulty” gene BRCA1.

Following netizen’s critique on the article, Global Times removed the post from its Weibo page, and it is now no longer visible on Weibo. The article itself, however, is still online at the Global Times website.

In late 2016, the Cyberspace Administration of China launched a formal investigation into the “click bait” headlines of various Chinese media. Click bait, called ‘Headline Party’ (标题党) in Chinese, is content that is mainly written to attract visitors to click on a link, which is often misleading or withholds important information (also see this article: “What is Clickbait?“).

Chinese internet regulators stated that “click bait” stories are misleading the public opinion and harmful to a “healthy” internet environment. Namely news sites Sina, Sohu, Focus, NetEase, and Phoenix, were reportedly using click bait.

The state-run Global Times, that falls under the People’s Daily, was not mentioned, although it has been accused of using click bait headlines by Weibo users in the past.

– By Manya Koetse

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About the author: Manya Koetse is the editor-in-chief of www.whatsonweibo.com. She is a writer and consultant (Sinologist, MPhil) on social trends in China, with a focus on social media and digital developments, Sino-Japanese relations and gender issues. Contact at manya@whatsonweibo.com, or follow on Twitter.

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