Lunar New Year Celebration at Franklin Park Zoo

2013 is the Chinese year of snake. Franklin Park Zoo held a Lunar New Year Celebration in the Tropical Forest’s Hippo Theater on Saturday, Jan 26. The celebration was hosted by Winchester School of Chinese Culture, including Erhu and Guzheng performances, as well as traditional Chinese dances and snake encounters.

I went to the celebration and tweeted about the performances. There were also people from both Boston Neighborhood Network and a newspaper in New York City covering the event with video cameras. I found it fast and convenient when using twitter to cover the celebration since you can live tweet about everything and add photos or videos. When traditional journalists have to take notes and photos, go back to the office, sit down and write the story, you may just enjoy the event and tweet about what you saw and heard in no time. I was surprised to see Zoo New England retweeted my tweets, which made me feel getting involved.

However, There are some negatives of covering a story via Twitter. In my scenario, there was no cell phone signal at the place where the celebration was held. As a result, I had to go out in the middle of the show to use my phone and then got back into the room when I wanted to live tweet about what happened, which could be very annoying. Also, you cannot tell a story fully by tweeting since there is 140 characters limit.

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Who’s tweeting about China?

This week I decided to go back to Twitter and followed a list of interesting/thoughtful Twitter feeds to get a sense of what is going on in China.

There are, actually, tons of Twitter accounts – either official or personal – talking about China. However, very few of them are contributed by Chinese citizens, for China has been blocking Twitter since 2008, right after the Tibet unrest. Instead, most of the feeds are launched in US or UK.

Ministry of Tofu translates Chinese news articles and public opinions into English, reporting what Chinese netizens discussing about current events.

Mike Forsythe, reporter for Bloomberg in Beijing and co-author of China’s Superbank, gives a focus on economic news. As well he tweets a lot about updates on daily news in Beijing.

The Relevant Organs focuses more on politics and international affairs. It is very critical and satirical, which we can easily tell from its name – “relevant organs” is a phrase often used in Chinese official reports or by government officers to pass the buck.

Sam Geall, departmental lecturer in human geography of China at University of Oxford, and executive editor of China Dialogue, is discussing about severe environmental issues in China.

China News Daily is a pretty active Twitter account, basically gathering news from western online media such as Bloomberg, Reuters, The Wall Street Journal, VOA, etc.

China SignPost provides analysis of China’s economic, political and security development with special interests in oil, grain, jet engines, ASBM and so on. It tweets about Chinese military occasionally.

SCMP belongs to The South China Morning Post, Hong Kong’s premiere English language newspaper. News produced in HK always has different angle from that in either China or US, and it is fairly interesting to make comparisons among them.

Other than these, I also followed a few Twitter accounts offered by news organizations, which are Xinhua News Agency, Caixin Media, Reuters China, and Financial Times Asia.

My blog sources

In this blog I will link to both Chinese and U.S. news sites as my sources. So here are several sites which I often check. I would, as well, occasionally link to news pieces from local/small newspaper that are not as famous as the ones below, but sometimes tell stories more clearly and in detail.

Xinhua and China Daily, with their own English versions, are two of the major official Chinese news websites which are mostly supervised by the government. They may only cover news that the Communist Party of China approved, however, if you wonder what are the big news that Chinese government wants the other countries to know about, these two are where to go.

Fenghuang, started in Hongkong and then moved its main office to mainland China, is a news site that many Chinese netizens trust, and is believed to be telling the truth.

There is always the saying that if you want to get real news, you’d better read newspapers which are published far from Beijing, where the government and censorship are. So I guess Nandu is the one. It is the biggest news corporation in Southern China trying its best to publish news against censorship.

Sometimes in China, reading newspaper is not the best way to get to know what is going on in the country. Sina Weibo, instead of traditional news websites, owns the largest population of Chinese netizen – around 400 million, according to an article published earlier this month. On this microblog platform, people are posting and discussing the latest news which might have not been covered by traditional news media. Some say it is a Chinese version of Twitter, however, the one under control. Chinese netizen, though, seem to be used to having their sensitive or controversial posts deleted by system administrator – they just keep reposting till the news become big enough.

Sina Weibo - Typical pop-up window that inform you that your post cannot go public due to censorship.

Sina Weibo – Typical pop-up window to inform you that your post cannot go public due to censorship.

The Huffington Post, Reuters and CNN are western media that I think are reliable sources to use, and it might be interesting to compare them with Chinese news sites to see how they choose and cover the news differently.

Photo (cc) by Isaac Mao via Flickr. Some rights reserved.

Combine your interests with career

Last Friday, Rachel Kossman, a recent graduate from Northeastern University, came to the class as our first guest speaker.

After graduation, Kossman started as a website editor and content contributor for TechTarget, where she built up work samples and learned about coding and SEO. However, writing technical articles is not what she feels interested in. After having traveled outside the country for a while, she started her travel blog, continued working on it, and sees travel writer as a dream.

I think Kossman’s experience tells us that we should try our hands at a variety of working places, to gather experiences and to learn useful skills. Meanwhile, it is key to find out what we are passionate for, where we have the potentials, and link it with our career path. It might take us a long time preparing, but it is worth a try.

Also, I think that having a professional personal website and putting our bio, resume, as well as all the works on it to show people who we are and what we are capable of is a terrific idea.

Here we go

I have been hearing Chinese people saying “western media don’t understand China” for years, and I think it is partly true. I remember reading an online translated article which was originally published in Newsweek, presenting that American press sometimes lack the basic knowledge of what Chinese people are concerning about. Then I thought it would be great if I can find a place to talk about big things happening in China, which may potentially change Chinese political or social form, yet US media has not covered in detail.

The good thing about being an international student is, I guess, that you can use both languages, learn both cultures, and get access to both news media.

So I decided to open this blog, focusing on posting noteworthy news which are highly concerned in China but missed by the American press, to give readers a basic sense of what is going on in China. I will, additionally, discuss about how mainstream media such as Reuters, CNN, The Huffington Post and The New York Times are reporting Chinese breaking news in different angles from Xinhua, China Daily, and other news media in China.

Please stay tuned!