BeiBei Bao impressed us here at UPIU when she turned in her story about China’s inflation troubles. We weren’t surprised when editors at UPI.com published it. Now, the New York Times research assistant is working on a second story, this time about the sensitive topic of euthanasia.
We caught up with BeiBei to find out why she’s taking journalism classes, how she got her job at The New York Times, and how Chinese journalists can shape the industry.
Name: Bao BeiBei (aka Angela)
Journalism School: School of Journalism and Communication, Peking University
Current Job: Research Assistant at The New York Times Shanghai Bureau
1. Why did you decide to pursue journalism?
The Sun Zhigang incident in 2003 taught me the power of journalism and let me see how the journalist’s pen could improve the society. I believe developing countries like China need good journalists to channel the information and open people’s eyes to see the real world.
2. What led you to attend the school you’re at now?
Peking University is one of the best educational institutions in China. The Journalism School of PKU in China is like Columbia University’s journalism school in the U.S. The resources and the alumni network that PKU offers are unparalleled.
3. What is the most important thing you’ve learned in journalism school?
You need to hold onto your belief, no matter what you’re faced with. Journalism may not bring you big money (at least in the beginning), but will render you and the society you’re living in better off.
4. What is your favorite story you have written? Why?
A serial report of Foxconn suicides and pay raises are my best work.the best I’ve done. Though I didn’t write them myself, I participated in the whole process. Those reports, especially the one about Ma Xiangqian, the first suicide victim in 2010, echoed through society and helped push the company raise its salary. The reports also accelerated the birth of a nationwide wage negotiation system. The media attention made a difference, and I was part of it.
5. How did you find your current job?
The bureau posted a job notice at my school and I applied to the position. After the resume selection and interviews, I was hired.
6. What do you do at your current job?
I do all the assistant work for writing a story. I primarily cover China’s economic issues, and culture and art.
7. Where do you hope to work when you graduate, and why?
I hope to work for a pioneering newspaper, like The New York Times. I love writing and I’m always excited about seeing my story in print. People say that newspapers are dying, but I don’t think that will happen anytime soon. Traditional media still carries more credibility.
8. What advice can you offer to other journalism students in China?
To suffer is to grow. Be smart, be brave, be persistent.
Hone your English writing skills. It will help spread your ideas far, far away.
9. What should journalists and journalism students in other countries know about journalism in China?
If you want to challenge yourself on getting officials to speak some truth, come to China. If you want to challenge yourself on finding facts that the authorities try to cover, come to China. And more important, if you want to make a difference, come to China. China is being transformed right now, and chances for journalists to break new ground are endless.