Lai was allocated to the Nation page, which reports news from all round China. Her internship lasts for two months over the summer break. Here is her diary of her first three weeks on the job:
Week 1: Weather girl
“I started off writing a few stories about flooding, typhoons and rainfall during the first week of my internship. Easy as it might sound, it took me quite a lot of time just to get myself familiar with the names of the rivers and provinces in China!
“Also, I needed time to adjust to the new working environment – work flow, writing style and knowing my colleagues.
“The editor-on-duty usually has all the topics for next day’s paper prepared in the afternoon, so when I come to work at around 2 pm, I know what I need to work on. But of course the topic might change if a new story breaks. The deadline is around 6 pm – by then I should have sent my article to the editors.”
Week 2: First short feature
“Apart from daily assignments, I was given the chance to write a short feature about the first batch of independent travellers from China to Taiwan. I was very nervous since I don’t have a lot of experience writing features.
“I need to produce a 900 word feature in a day and a half – the word limit is much less than that usually required at the JMSC but the time pressure is much greater.
“It’s difficult to get all interviews done within such limited time but I’m glad I made it and the editor was satisfied with the story.”
Week 3: Getting on track
“It’s been a hectic week. I wrote about the disbandment of the investigative reporting team of the China Economic Times led by veteran reporter Wang Keqin, who once spoke to us in the Covering China class last year. I was unable to reach him but I managed to contact Mr Qian Gang, the director of our China Media Project at the JMSC and the first person to break the news on his Weibo.
“I also interviewed a friend of one of the reporters in the team. From a news-writing point of view, it might not be a difficult piece to write but I am glad that I was given a chance to work on this story.
“I also wrote a story about the lawyers who were beaten up last Monday in Beihai City in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region and a feature about criminals who exploit mentally challenged people or even make a profit from killing them in Leibo, Sichuan.
“While working here in Beijing, language is always a problem that I need to conquer. I have sometimes found that it takes a while for some interviewees to understand my ‘Hong Kong accent’. It’s embarrassing but I know it takes time to adjust and my colleagues said that I have improved a lot already for the past few weeks!”