On Serious Newscasting in China

Recently I took the broadcasting newscaster Summer course at the Communications University (传媒大学) in the hopes of improving my Chinese and getting a better grasp of the grooming process for mainland news media personalities. Started the course with bare basics of Mandarin (ie: bo po mo fo) which was all new to me — learning Chinese from a local perspective is incredibly fascinating. All of my classmates were from other provinces (I was the only Beijinger, ha!) and it was interesting to see how they struggle to get over their local accents.

Most intriguing of all were the lectures from various professors (who were all ex-media professionals at one point or another) about the newsmaking process, how to best deliver news that is “harmonious” and how nothing is fair and that the students needed to get over it. And all the professors were recommending that the students take a crappy low-pay gig at the major stations for a couple years, but then get out of dodge as quickly as they could — the quality of life and overall joy of working at a station in a second or third tier city would be more fulfilling in the long term.

But after sitting through hours of lectures and surrounding myself with Chinese news shows (to be honest, I usually get my news fill from a couple of papers, blogs, the Rachel Maddow Show and Colbert & Stewart — yay Daily Show!) I had to come to terms with the mind-numbingly serious and non-dramatic nature of Chinese news presentation. Sure, we’ve got tons of newscasters in America who aren’t entertainment oriented, but even the most serious will add a dramatic tone of voice or get playful sometimes. Especially if there is a gaff, they won’t pretend that it didn’t happen. But Chinese newscasters don’t even flinch.

Check out the reel below — the best thing about it is not that its funny (cuz I don’t think there’s many that are actually that worthy of laughter) but all the Chinese friends I show the video to are literally rolling on the floor giggling.



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