Every week I get literally thousands of emails from fans. Almost all of them giving insightful tips on how to be bigger, thicker, larger, and last longer. Oh, and the ladies! Boy, some of them aren’t backward about coming forward…
In between all of this I received two emails which struck me during the last week. One from a friend, another from a fellow Shanghai ginger (yeah, I know the universe may explode if we meet on the street).
First, my good friend:
“It seems the more wrong your site gets the more followers it has….”
Second, from ginger:
“Hey I like your blog. I’m an intern just starting out writing. Any journalism tips?”
Both are paraphrased…but both had me thinking about the recent direction of the blog. Yes, I’ve been writing more jokes and random “white dude in China” stuff. I’m comfortable with that because I’m certainly no fake China expert (please, can’t somebody quarantine them at the airport?) and I like to have a laugh. And besides, its my blog and I’ll write whatever self-loving content I feel like. That’s the nature of blogs, right?
Even though I’m technically not a journalist anymore (I prefer to help people build media sites at the moment) I’d like to think my experience as an editor and journalist can be passed on – even if my expertise lay in the nerdy world of technology.
Well here’s the first tip: Don’t write some of the dribble drabble prattle I put together here – I enjoy writing this, but its far from groundbreaking, world-changing stuff. For serious, interesting content for your readers, here would be my tips after observing much of what is written here locally and abroad about Shanghai and China:
- Learn the language – How can you report on what is being said if you can’t understand?
- Understand the people – China is not some big collective conscious of 1.3 billion people. There are individuals with stories, values, and experiences that are vastly different in all corners of the country – even in Shanghai there is enormous difference of opinion on many matters. Understand that and you can better write about China.
- Don’t be a parrot – The internet has enough people copying each other and not checking their facts. Don’t contribute to the echo chamber.
- Find a niche – What do you know and what can you write about at your swimming level? Find that and write about it well.
- Learn to use technology – breaking news can travel extremely fast. To break news you’re going to have to be hardwired to technology.
- Look for local sources – stop interviewing the same expat with their same opinions on a matter. Even if you don’t speak Chinese, many locals do speak English. Find them and earn their trust and you’ll get a lot more interesting points of view for stories.
- Forget what you know – you’re in China, not Kansas anymore. Don’t take for granted people having the same background or values. This goes back to the understanding the people point.
- Be careful – this should go without saying. Know the rules, boundaries, and the possible consequences.
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