Faculty Q&A: Dai Jia says GBJ trains journalists to "observe in person and really get to know China"

Global Business Journalism Professor Dai Jia is an ambassador of cross-cultural knowledge. She understands Chinese and American culture – and Chinese and global media – from her Ph.D. studies at the University of Texas in Austin, Texas. She is a popular professor of Chinese society and culture, and she is an expert on comparative media systems. A professor at Tsinghua University since 2011, she sat down with Li Huitao, Peng Xinyi, Deng Kaiyi and Su Boye for this interview.

Dai Jia: "Having curiosity and being sharp in terms of reporting and observing are the most important characteristics for professional reporters."

THUMBNAIL PROFILE


Professional Title:

Associate Professor, Tsinghua School of Journalism and Communication


Education:

B.A. in History (Hunan Normal University)

M.A. in Communication (Wuhan University)

Ph.D. in Journalism (University of Texas-Austin)


Research Interests:

Media sociology, new media and social transformation, global communication


GBJ Courses Taught:

Contemporary Chinese Society and Culture, Comparative Media Systems


Other TSJC Courses Taught:

Communication Research Methods (undergrad), Media Law and Ethics (undergrad), Advanced News Gathering and Writing (graduate)


Emailjiadai@tsinghua.edu.cn


Q&A


Q: What is most special about the Global Business Journalism (GBJ) program?


A: First of all, there aren’t many English programs across universities in China. Many of them are short-term classes inviting people from all over the world to China for certain kinds of education. They are not well-established. But GBJ is specifically designed for international students pursuing master’s degree. So in the first place, it is a very unique program compared to those of other universities.


Q: We have heard it is the first business-journalism-related master's program launched in Asia.


A: Yes, it is. Our school, Tsinghua School of Journalism and Communication, has a good reputation highly internationalized programs. As for GBJ, it is highly focused on business journalism reporting. All students are trained and educated specifically for business journalism. That’s a unique focus as well. Although classes and training are diversified, they are all directed to business reporting.


Q: What are other unique characteristics of the program?


A: The program is both practical- and theoretical-oriented. We do provide academic training such as methodology classes. For example, Mass Communication in Contemporary China provides a good foundation for students to learn about China as a society, rather than only accepting journalistic professional practice. We also have professional journalistic training, such as news writing and multimedia reporting. We encourage students to do internship in industries as well. I think both academic and professional tracks are well covered. It is quite balanced. This is also reflected in the teacher composition of the program.


Q: What is special about the Global Business Journalism faculty?


A: Basically, classes are taught by professors and professionals in journalism and communication industry. It is well balanced in terms of inviting scholars such as professors, academic scholars and industrial professionals like Lee Miller and Rick Dunham. As very experienced and professional reporters, they could educate students well in terms of journalistic reporting and news coverage. We have professors trained in communication technology as well. These professors and scholars can provide more theoretically driven education.

Professor Dai Jia celebrates the end of the fall 2019 semester with her Global Business Journalism students.

Q: What makes GBJ program attractive to foreign students?


In the first place, China has been racing up vey fast in the past 10 years and became the second-largest economy in the world. Nobody could simply ignore the rising power. So I think that’s why China is attracting people all over the world.


This specific group of students, according to what I know, has all kinds of experience working in China, for China or in some institutes that have relations with China. For example, some of my students have done internships at Hunan Satellite TV Station. Some have worked at CCTV before as interns. These students had the chance to really get to know the real China which is quite different from their original mind set, impression or stereotype. That helps them to think deeper than their country fellows about the new China. In general, GBJ aptly provides them with the chance to observe in person and really get to know China.


Secondly, I think it’s because of the Tsinghua brand. Since there are only one or two first-tier elite universities in China, the ability to get into Tsinghua means a lot in terms of finding jobs and entering the market. So I think that the Tsinghua brand plays a big part in attracting them to China as well.


Also, as you’ve said, our program itself is a very distinctive one. For example, there are a lot of international scholars from other countries. They are very experienced professionals. They do have a long time of reporting experience. They are very nice and they are getting along with the students very well. I think this part is an attraction as well.


Q: How does the program benefit students who want to be journalists or work in international business or international relations?


A: We really want them to know the real China in person. They could be immersed in this culture and thus seeing the real pictures rather than being shaped by stereotypes, prejudices or biases because of the media in their home countries. We invite them to study here and see the real China.


It’s up to them to jump out of your own boxes or overcome their biases and stereotypes. Studying in China for two years will change their attitudes. That happened indeed, according to my own observation. We do not train students to work on behalf of China. We encourage critical thinking as well. Students get to know the real China, including both the bright side and the negative side. With this kind of education, they’ll be more open-minded and be able to overcome their old prejudices. They will be reporting about China in a more objective way.


Q: What is the biggest difference between Chinese students and students from other countries?


A: There are a lot of differences, of course. But according to my observation, the biggest difference is that students from other countries are more curious about everything in China. Since they come from different home countries, China means something new to them. It’s a new country and a totally new environment. So they are very curious in comparison.


Chinese students have really got used to everything. They are not so curious. Thus, they are less likely to ask questions while foreign students are really active in discussions.


Having curiosity and being sharp in terms of reporting and observing are the most important characteristics for professional reporters. So I would say that being curious has positive influence on those foreign students in the program that want to be reporters in the future.

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