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Three Questions: Journalist Mike Chinoy on China

Sharing insights about China from an insider’s point of view, Mike Chinoy, a career journalist and senior fellow at the University of Southern California’s (USC) U.S.–China Institute, recently spoke to a University of Denver audience about his experiences as a working journalist covering China.

Chinoy was at DU as part of the Josef Korbel School for International Studies’ Public Diplomacy Series. In addition to meeting with students, Chinoy previewed a documentary called Assignment: China The Week that Changed the World, about Richard Nixon’s historic visit to China in 1972.

DU Today spoke to Chinoy about the documentary and his thoughts on how American media coverage has shaped the perception of China in the West:

 

Q: You recently produced and narrated an 8-part documentary about China, covering different time periods in its modern history. What was the goal of the project?

A:  I wanted to bring forward the behind-the-scenes story of China. I think people should be informed consumers of news. There are more than one billion people in China, and covering a country that big and diverse can be very complicated. There are vast differences in cultures, languages and politics across China. As a result, news coverage can be skewed unintentionally.

 

Q: You were a foreign correspondent for approximately 30 years, covering Asia for about two decades. What is your biggest takeaway from covering China?

A: News is something that has immediacy. China is not necessarily a news story; the China story is a process. That’s what makes covering it as a journalist so challenging. As a whole, China is a society in tremendous turmoil, straining the ability of the system to manage it. Yet they do.

 

Q: You have covered many historic moments in history. What is the most memorable?

A: Going to North Korea in 1994 with former President Jimmy Carter. I was the only reporter to go on the trip. Other memorable coverage was the Tiananmen Square massacre, the 2004 tsunami and being embedded with the Marines in Afghanistan.

 

 

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