Let me describe our office to you. China.org is what I would call an online news aggregate. Publishing reports in nine languages, the biggest bulk of what is done is finding interesting, quality news stories published in Chinese media or elsewhere and translating them into the various other languages. When you enter our office, it's basically one giant room with tons of cubicles arranged in rows throughout the room. I'd venture a guess that the entire space is about the size of a decent-sized high school gymnasium. Two people share each cubicle (it's big enough to share, I'll take a picture), and each station comes with a desktop computer and a relatively comfortable chair.
I know I've said it before, but I work with some really great people. And although the office remains relatively quiet, much more calm than the crazy atmosphere in some newsrooms back home, everyone is great and eager to help when they can. Each morning starts with a cup of coffee from Becky. This is a real treat because she makes drip coffee and most Chinese drink the instant stuff if they're drinking coffee at all. Most days are actually quite relaxing. Outside of the occasional interesting MSN chat with a colleague, or friendly discussion with Maverick I spend my time copy editing stories that have been translated into English from Chinese. Some days I'm lucky and I'll get four or five stories to edit during my seven hour workday. This week I didn't edit as much. On Tuesday and Wednesday I only edited one story each day. I mostly spent my time reading news at my desk and trying to find story ideas to pitch. My bosses seem surprised when they hand me a story to edit and I'm finished editing it in less than a half hour. Maybe I'm crazy, but I can't seem to justify taking my time with stories when I know I can get the assignments done and move on to another task.
On Tuesday, in between my reading for pleasure and story editing, I finished writing my very first story for China.org.cn. You can find the story here. I was able to write about my trip last weekend to Miyun, which I also shared on this blog. My story was well received on the site, and was the second most viewed story the day after it was published. I was blown away and humbled by the response. Because I've been trying to do reporting of some sort - or just to get out of the office to see and do anything I was forwarded a press release from the International Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China. They were holding an "open house" of sorts for foreign journalists and foreign members of the Chinese media in an attempt to promote openness. I, logically, jumped at the opportunity to go, so two colleagues and I got to spend our Friday morning meeting with members of the Party. The meeting was largely what I expected, however I was surprised that the Party gave us a relatively high-level minister for the press conference. Ai Ping answered several questions from the press, in what I thought was a much more candid manner than most would expect from the Chinese government. Ping had an epic combover, like the one's often exaggerated in political cartoons, and was an older man with thick large glasses circa 1990. The spokesman for the department, who gave a brief historical introduction first thing in the morning, was much younger and "modern" in his appearance. The entire event was translated from Chinese into English, and was an even I'm not soon going to forget. I'll be writing a story with Corey Cooper for China.org.cn and will make sure to let you all know when it's finished.
Well that's all I've got about work. On a side note: when my boss told me work attire at the office was casual, I assumed business casual. I was mistaken, and am often overdressed compared with my colleagues. But at least I feel like a real professional, even if I am just reading news online all day long.