Saturday, 18 October 2008

The quietest newsroom in the world

I started an internship at the Shanghai Daily this week - one of the reasons I haven't posted in a while - and I've spent the time since desperately trying to find some form of work that I can do other than rocking back and forth in a chair...

But I suppose for a first week it's not been too uneventful, it doesn't help that they have no real idea what to do with interns though. When I arrived on Tuesday I was shown a desk, a computer, how the server worked, and then left to it. To what, at that point, neither I nor the Shanghai Daily knew, I think they were just happy to get me to sit down and not bother them for a minute.

That didn't last long and I managed to work my way round the metro (city news) desk reporters in about 15 minutes, pleasantly whoring myself out for any work that was going at all. There wasn't anything.

I suppose it would be useful to describe the newsroom at the Shanghai Daily: it looks like a newsroom, but it doesn't sound like a newsroom. The general hustling, shouting, swearing and stressing is nowhere and is replaced by an eerie subdued murmur. I can actually hear the news on TV from the other side of the room.

I think this comes from the fact the Shanghai Daily's metro desk tends to do a lot of rehashing stories from the Chinese media and not so much reporting of its own, meaning reporters don't need to leave the office much, and just make a couple of calls to verify a story.

Despite that, I have huge amount of respect for them, writing news in a foreign language (especially if, like many of the reporters, you've never been to an English speaking country) is a pretty hard task.

That said, On Thursday I finally got something to do and teamed up with a young reporter who just graduated from university this year. We went and covered a seminar where an Australian public health academic was talking about tobacco control in Australia, and I think was supposed to become a discussion between him and the Chinese academics there about cooperation between the two countries. Well, the language barrier hit home a bit and it descended into a discussion between the Chinese academics for a good couple of hours, but it was interesting. They called for the media to take a more active role in reporting findings about tobacco control so as to pressure the government into taking a more active approach to tightening regulations or even introducing laws in the area.

So I got to write a couple of hundred words at least, which was better than nothing. Friday was a pretty uneventful day though, so we'll see what happens next week.

Media aid needed in smoke-out campaign

1 comment:

  1. Do you know anything about all the strange news blurbs that appear in the China Daily? Like the one I read about a boy who was in a snowball eating contest and school and had to go to the hospital. Are they put in their as a joke? Cheers