White House Correspondent, VOA China
How did you get started at VOA?
"I started at VOA in 2008. Before that, I was working for several media outlets in Taiwan, as well as a Hong Kong newspaper here in the Washington Bureau. Then, I saw a job opportunity online at VOA, so I applied. Before I got the job offer, I was asked to take an exam based on my journalism knowledge and skill, submitted some of my past written articles, and had a face-to-face interview. The next thing I knew, I was hired."
What is the most rewarding part working at VOA?
"The diversity. We have people coming from so many backgrounds, and it’s interesting to hear different perspectives that I might not have thought of before. Once, I was talking to my colleague from [the] Africa Service about a Chinese infrastructural investment in Africa. While she only saw the positive side on the surface, I brought in concerns on environmental damages, as well as resident’s rights being deprived. That helped her seethe issue in more dimensions. Likewise, I would also seek advice from other language services for their opinions."
You used to work for Taiwan and Hong Kong media outlets. How are they different from your experience at VOA? And how do these experiences help you at VOA?
"Back in Taiwan, my focus was more on entertainment. I produced entertainment news and programs, I was also a producer and a DJ at radio station, and I did some modeling as well. So, everything was fun. However, when I started working for the Hong Kong newspaper here in Washington D.C., it was heavily based on politics and I was able to put my Political Science bachelor degrees to use. I would cover local politicians from D.C., Virginia and Maryland. I also had the chance to attend congressional hearings, interview members of Congress and US officials, and meet diplomats from Asia when they visited D.C.. This gave me opportunities to look more into politics, and it also became the gateway for me to work at VOA. VOA is a multimedia agency, and it just perfectly coincides with all my background in television, radio, internet, and print."
When it comes to political issues there are often several perspectives. As a talk show host, how do you deal with situations when guest speakers are getting too heated during a discussion?
"I usually invite as diverse an array of guests as possible to be on the show. Not only for myself, but also for the audience to hear more opinions. We also opened up to phone-calls so that all the Mandarin speakers from the world get a chance to voice out in our show and let us know their opinions or questions. There weren’t really any conflicts, but I did get surprised by some of their responses. Sometimes I would have my own assumptions on how guests might respond to my questions, so when they did otherwise, it gives me different perspectives on them."
People rely on the news they read to learn about truths. How do you keep yourself professional and reliable as a journalist?
"I try to prepare as much as I can before each interview. I want to present a wholesome perspective to my audience. One thing I try to avoid is “what do you think” kind of questions, especially when it comes to politicians, they rarely tell you all the truths, so I would articulate questions to get an honest answer rather than it be avoided. I’ve also noticed a lot of false information given by some biased journalists, who purposely quote something out of context to mislead the audience. Media has powerful influence, and that’s why it’s on us—it is the journalist’s responsibility—to stay unbiased in our reporting."
It surely is a glamorous job to be the White House correspondent, do you still remember your first day covering at White House?
"It is only glamorous during the 3-minutes reporting on the camera. The rest of the work is tedious. I remember I was super nervous on my first day, and many things just didn’t go smoothly. They misspelled my name on the credential, so I was stuck at the gate under in 20-degree weather waiting for them to fix it. I also remember how intimidating it was when I aired the news in front of the Press Briefing Room for the very first time, and was surrounded by experienced journalists from many well-known media outlets."
What is the most challenging part of this job?
"It can be very overwhelming. There’s just too much information pouring in all at once, and you need to sort out which pieces of information are news-worthy."
Are there any interesting or memorable moments during the White House coverage?
"Some of the information released in the Press Briefing Room might not be within my expertise, and that happens to other journalists, too. Therefore, you would sometimes see journalists working for different news outlets gather together, trying to sort out and exchange their knowledge with one another. It’s so precious to be able to meet great people from the same field and grow together in our job."
VOA is a multimedia news agency, and most journalists here usually play more than just one role. Out of all your past and current positions as TV host, journalist, reporter, and broadcaster, which one do you enjoy the best?
"I like all of them. However, being the White House Correspondent is currently what I enjoy doing. Ever since the Trump Administration took over, a lot of things have been going on. We didn’t have someone covering the White House in the past from the Chinese Service, and it is something that our audience is interested in. So, I proposed this idea to my manager, and it went through. The job is not easy, though. Since we are short staffed, I’m a one-person team, which means my job is not just reporting the news, but also taking care of the camera, lighting, social media, and script writing, all by myself. I work 10 to 12 hours a day, and that doesn't include the times when I have to work from home if there is breaking news happening after work. I would say it’s an intense yet exciting job, because there is always something going on."
What’s a piece of advice you would give someone who wants to work at VOA?
"For those who don’t have experience in the news industry, be prepared to learn with an open mind. For those who have experience in the industry, just keep yourself creative and proactive. Be brave to propose your ideas, because you never know what’s going to happen."