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Posts Tagged ‘Xinhua News Agency’

Improve the craft of writing

Tuesday, September 10th, 2013

We learn to improve our writing everyday, from reading, writing, rewriting, and being corrected by others.

I’ve never been trained as a journalist, but enjoyed doing contributing writing for Xinhua News, the official wire service in China, as a freelancer. The different subjects I need to cover have exposed me to contents I would never have paid attention to on my own, and interviewing people, usually experts in the field of each coverage, has provided me with the opportunity of meeting many extraordinary individuals. But most of all, it’s a great learning experience to write and improve on the job, so to speak.

Yesterday I did three interviews on an assigned coverage on China’s recent economic initiatives. In the list of requested subjects to cover, it also contained the comparison of “develop the west” in China to the “go west” in the U.S. I tried to blend them all in one short coverage and felt jumbled up in a way even before I pressed the submit button. But since I had managed to put the two together, I was reluctant to “kill the little darling” once it was on paper.

I saw the coverage released on Xinhua earlier this morning and was humbled by the editing a Beijing editor did. He/she took out the entire section on the “go west” issue and focused on the new initiatives of opening up various sectors such as finance, petroleum, telecommunication to private sectors. Even in this area, the quotes were substantially cut short.

Despite my reservation for the quotes, I must say the editing has made the coverage much more focused and clean. It is certainly another good lesson in writing.

Here is the link to the “news” release:

Incidentally, I saw a friend posted a link to a New York Times blog about writing short sentences. I thought it came in just as handy. Enjoy.

Jian Ping: author of Mulberry Child: A Memoir of China, which has been developed into an award-winning documentary film by Susan Morgan Cooper and is narrated by Jacqueline Bisset. Visit for more information.

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Commencement ceremony at Benedictine University

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

By Jian Ping

The temporary podium for BenU's commencement ceremony

I created a record by attending two commencement ceremonies in three days—one for giving a keynote speech at Loyola University Chicago, and the other, doing a coverage for Xinhua News at Benedictine University (BenU) in the western suburb of Chicago.

BenU held its ceremony in the football field on campus. A temporary podium was set up, and more than a thousand chairs were placed in the middle of the field for the graduating students. Family members and friends of the students were seated on the benches of raised platforms.  

Faculty members welcoming graduating students as they walked to their seating area

Unfortunately, winter returned to Chicago in the middle of May, at least for the day. A strong wind blew a constant drizzle over the field, making it seemingly colder. Many people came prepared, bringing down coats or blankets. The graduating students braved the wind, holding down their academic caps with their hands as they walked into their seated area, their gowns fluttering.

I shivered in the cold and retreated indoor as soon as the keynote speech by Donna Brazile was finished. I was surprised to find many people crowded in front of computer screens at the Krasa Center to watch the ceremony from inside.

Families and friends all bundled up

A group of 26 MBA students came all the way from China to attend the ceremony. They had completed a 2-year study program offered by BenU, along with its partner universities in China. It was their first time to visit BenU, for that matter, the United States. At the special welcome luncheon organized by BenU’s Asia Institute, Dr. Carroll, President of BenU, greeted them.

Watching the commencement at Krasa Center

“Don’t be discouraged by the weather,” he said. “If you stay in Chicago long enough, you’ll find it changes every ten minutes.”

They all laughed. The bad weather didn’t dampen down their enthusiasm. They enjoyed a variety of Chinese food for lunch, plus many Western style deserts. I interviewed a few of them and wrote a brief feature for Xinhua. Click on the title to read it:  Students from China receive degrees at Chicago area

Jian Ping, author of Mulberry Child: A Memoir of China. Visit, for more information. Mulberry Child has been made into a feature-length documentary film and will be released in 2011.

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