This summer six students from the JMSC are interning in Beijing.
Annie Tai is a year 2 BJ student. She is spending five weeks at the CNN Beijing Bureau, assisting the correspondent there. The role consists of researching story ideas, helping to arrange interviews, translating interviews and useful background information from Chinese into English and transcribing tapes.
“I am loving this internship because I get the chance to explore China and develop my news ideas in depth,” says Tai. “I am also making use of multiple languages such as Mandarin, Cantonese and English. I get in touch with a lot of interesting people and listen to their stories too.”
Tai adds that this opportunity is helping her to better understand the mainland: “I am building up a network of friends and experts in matters related to China. I have investigated some social changes and trends in China in terms of economics, politics and many other aspects. By doing this, I get to understand more about our mother country and what challenges she is facing.”
Helen Li Yan is also a year 2 BJ student. She has been working at the Beijing Bureau of Al Jazeera English as a research assistant.
Her job consists of researching news and trends happening in China and making contact with people for the station to interview. She has also been learning how to put together TV packages.
“The good thing about the internship is that I am exposed to all aspects of the journalism environment, working with professional journalists and producers,” says Yan.
“I think the writing skills I learned at JMSC have helped me a lot in translating documents here. I translate Chinese statements into English news articles,” she says. “Also, how to find news that is worth reporting is one of the other useful skills I learned at the JMSC.”
The students have found the experience eye-opening in terms of the difference in ease of reporting between Hong Kong and the mainland.
“I notice that the bureaucracy here from official organizations is more of a problem than in Hong Kong; people are not so friendly to reporters,” says Tai. “I have experienced being stopped from doing an interview in the street because the security blocked our camera. It is also very hard to get in touch with the authorities – they are often unwilling to give information to anyone other than CCTV.”
“Since Al Jazeera is a foreign media, we face fewer obstacles than local media but there is still more pressure on media in China than in Hong Kong,” says Yan.
While the students are all building up their skills, they say that the downside of working in Beijing is that it is an expensive city if you are not earning and most internships are unpaid.
“It is tough to live in Beijing if you are not rich. With the wide gap between rich and poor in this city and the terrible traffic and overcrowded subways, life is difficult,” says Tai.