David Pierson (Los Angeles Times) Replaces Joseph Kahn (New York Times) as the Most Watched Journali


Covering China has always been difficult for foreign journalists. The accuracy, newsworthiness, and significance of the stories reported by David Pierson of the Los Angeles Times have replaced those of Joseph Kahn, who now serves as the deputy foreign editor of the New York Times, as the most read stories by US-based Chinese translators who want to get an independent, original, and inside view on China.


[USPRwire, Thu Sep 10 2009] What do US-based Chinese translators read in English to get the latest, independent, alternative, and inside view on China? This is perhaps one of the most important questions overlooked by many people. Indeed, US-based Chinese translators need to get news about China, and they can rely on news reported in the US because they are able to read English and they are able to read news that are sometimes not accessible from China.

For Abacus Chinese Translation Services, the answer to that question used to be New York Times, mostly because of the investigative news reports by Joseph Kahn, who later became the deputy foreign editor for the newspaper. On September 3, 2009, though, it has been formally changed to Los Angeles Times, mostly because of the investigative news stories by David Pierson, a young journalist who is now in Beijing, doing what Joseph Kahn was doing years ago.

"As Chinese translators in the US, we need to be up-to-date on the news in China. We read several Chinese newspapers. However, we also need to read English media because we are able and we have access to them," says Eagle Liang, one of the Chinese translators in Los Angeles for Abacus Chinese Translation Services. "The key is to get news stories that are significant, newsworthy, fair, and independent, especially those that report a general trend happening in China. That's why are are extremely selective. And we know what stories are fair and independent because we come from China ourselves."

For most people in China, even if they spoke English, they are only able to access a handful of English language media, and only periodically because the Chinese government constantly blocks certain websites they deemed sensitive. "During certain politically sensitive periods, most people in China will unlikely be able to access certain websites. For example, some entries on Wikipedia are reportedly inaccessible from China despite several attempts to communicate with the Chinese government to unblock them." says Sally An of Los Angeles Chinese Learning Center, a company that specializes, among other things, in unblocking websites from China.

US-based Chinese translators, then, would have special advantage because they are able to access all the news media sites and that they are more or less knowledgeable about China and Chinese culture because most of them come from China themselves.

"Joseph Kahn used to be my favorite journalist covering China. Through his "guanxi", or connections, he was able to get the stories that most Chinese people don't even know about. Those stories are inline with the sources that I received from China," says Samuel Chong, a Chinese translator. Chong refers to Kahn's coverage before and during the 17th National Congress of China, with analysis and insights on the leadership change there. "I was surprised at his stories, and I am even more surprised that he even had those sources".

"Joseph Kahn caught my attention when he covered SARS in China, and he became my favorite journalist covering China at that time. The copy editor did a good job too as the headlines are eye-catching but also neutral." says Chong.

Kahn was Beijing bureau chief at the New York Times from July 2003 until December 2007. In 2006, he and his Beijing-based colleague Jim Yardley won the Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting for his series of stories on labor conditions in China's export factories. The same series received a citation from the Overseas Press Club. After December 2007, Joseph Kahn became the deputy foreign editor. "It was then, I had to find another journalist to follow. Although the China-related stories in New York Times are good after he left Beijing, those are not as good as when he was there." Chong commented.

Chinese translators need good news stories to read. David Pierson became the one to fill in for the vacuum left by Kahn.

Pierson started at the Los Angeles Times in 2000 and has covered cops, education and the San Gabriel Valley. He joined the Business section in the fall of 2008 as a regional economics reporter. Pierson caught Chong's attention because he was the "only journalist covering San Gabriel Valley for the Los Angeles Times". He was extremely insightful as he spotted the sprout of foot massage places, mostly run by Chinese, in the City of San Gabriel in his story "Archrivals in foot massage". In "City Hall is a class struggle", he writes about Chinese government officials from a city in northern China learning the American way of running their government, reflecting the trend of groups of Chinese government officials visiting the US for cultural exchanges. He broke the news of Chinese tourists from China coming to the US to purchase real estate properties in his story "Chinese tours groups go house-hunting in U.S." Other media did follow-up stories. In China, he writes about an Internet phenomenon among the young people in "China's favorite Internet craze: 'Jia Junpeng, your mom is calling you to come home and eat.'" In "Beijing loves IKEA -- but not for shopping", he accurately depicts the psychologies of Chinese consumers. He also writes about the trend on Chinese technologies that may improve our environment in his report "China, green? In the case of solar water heating, yes".

"His stories are original, accurate, newsworthy, and normally reflect a social trend". Chong says, "We follow him closely, and we tell our translators to read his stories whenever they come up."

What about other media that cover China? Besides Los Angeles Times, it seems that few is recommendable.

"I read China related news stories from the Washington Post only when I feel the need to know what the journalists or editors at Washington Post think about China (which means I don't read it at all). I think they are extremely biased against China. They are like the sarcastic devil's advocate for China." says Li Li, an ESL student at Pasadena City College.

"Stories in Newsweek or Time magazine rarely cover China, and when they do, they are not that insightful." says Sunny Zheng, a Chinese American student who graduated from USC in journalism.

"TV and radio coverage on China is hardly original. They are mostly follow up stories. On the other hand, if I were the editor or owner of Los Angeles Times, I would definitely give David Pierson a raise", jokes Chong.

This article can also be found at http://www.certifiedchinesetranslation.com/09/0905-David-Pierson-Journalist-China.html

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