Lauren Ratcliffe, Journalist
|Lauren Ratcliffe | Let Me Tell Your Story||
Sitting in the back of a taxi cab, I find myself lost in thought. I still can't believe I'm really spending my summer in Beijing, sometimes. When I do allow the realization that I'm here to sink in, it hits me that I've just finished my third full week of work (14 work days). I've only got 40 more working days left and I know that time is going to absolutely fly by.
This week, work was rather interesting for a number of reasons. I didn't do a ton of editing, but I've been told that it's considered hospitable not to "burden" the guests (or in my case foreign intern) with lots of work. I'd still much rather be busy and wondering how I'm going to get all the tasks done, but now that I'm learning it's a cultural thing, it's becoming easier to handle. Anyways, work started off by seeing my second story published on China.org.cn. The story was the result of an open door event held by the International Department of the Communist Party of China. The story can be found HERE.
Later that week, I sat in on an editorial meeting with Lauren Russell, the other intern from UNC. Back home, editorial meetings I've attended consisted of back-and-forth conversations, reporters pitching stories, editors asking questions and refining story ideas for the coming day/week/issue etc. At China.org the editorial meeting ran quite differently. Point people from each section of the site began by recapping the major stories or articles published during the past week and then gave a (very) brief synopsis of what is to be expected for the coming week. This was followed by a "very good" response from Karen, one of our bosses. There was no dialogue about stories, no questions from editors or other reporters, no further suggestions made at all. It's not what I'm used to, but it seems to work because the site functions pretty well on a week-to-week basis. We were invited to talk to any of the editors whose stories for the coming week interested us if we anted to get involved. I see myself trying to do as much as I can with the 90th anniversary of the CPC, mostly because it combines my interest of politics with a general curiosity about how the system operates over here.
On Wednesday, Corey invited me to join him for lunch with a friend of mine from back home. This seemed like just the excitement I was needing to get through hump day and finish the week out strong. I'd set the two up for an interview because Corey was writing on Teach for China, and my good friend had just arrived in Beijing to begin training for his two-year commitment with the organization. It was exciting to see a familiar face and watch a colleague in action as he interviewed my friend over a delicious Sichuan meal. But Wednesday's excitement was far from over. Once we were back in the office, editing stories and researching new things to write about (I've now got 3 stories in the works...yay!), Corey came back over to me, and Audrey and Lauren, and asked us if we would mind being interviewed by China Daily reporters for a story they were working on. I didn't mind at all, not because I'm particularly interested in seeing my name in print unless it's a byline, but rather because I was curious as to how it would feel to have the tables turned and be the one answering questions. Let me say, I'm not a fan. I'd much rather ask the questions than be forced to carefully articulate answers to questions. China Daily is the largest English-language daily newspaper in Beijing (and I believe China as a whole). The story was about foreign interns coming to China. I gave my business card to the reporter in case she had any further questions she could e-mail or call me. I had completely forgotten that the URL for my portfolio website (which consequently also has this blog) was on the card.
Thursday morning I got a call from the reporter. She wanted to know if excerpts from my blog could be published as a sidebar to their article. It was a no-brainer. I jumped at the chance to have my words published in a print publication in China. I was blown away by the response when the article came out Friday morning. That story can be found HERE. My colleagues were buzzing about the article, and some joked that it was likely to get put up on a wall somewhere in the office. Even Professor Richard Cole from UNC, who set up the internship, was excited about the press we received and emailed the entire faculty of the Journalism school back home. I was constantly surprised by the response to the article all day on Friday. Despite learning in classrooms how media is global, and stories spread fast, I still managed to be blown away by how true that is. A Forbes.com reporter contacted me after reading the story wanting to write a blog post based on the article and ask me some further questions. I happily answered his questions, and his post can be found HERE.
I can't reiterate how crazy and awesome this week at work has been. I work with some of the most generous people, who make me laugh and feel at home. It's also been great to pitch 3 stories of my own and be invited to attend another event to write a fourth. There are brief moments when I feel like a real reporter over here, and the other moments are allowing me to learn