Wǒ Men Podcast: The Unsung Heroes of International Media’s China Coverage

Chinese news assistants do vital work at great personal risk. This is their story

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6:00 AM HKT, Tue May 26, 2020

The Wǒ Men Podcast is a discussion of life in China hosted by Yajun Zhang, Jingjing Zhang and Karoline Kan. Previous episodes of the Wǒ Men Podcast can be found here, and you can subscribe to Wǒ Men on iTunes here.

To many readers of mainstream English-language media, “news assistant” is an unfamiliar term. Yet the people operating in this role are often integral to many overseas outlets’ coverage of China. Also sometimes referred to as “news researchers,” they are Chinese passport holder journalists working for foreign media who often do far more than mere research yet are rarely credited for their work.

News assistants’ responsibilities can include research, looking for interviewees, arranging interviews, translating, and some “researchers” even interview and write the stories independently — but with no byline. The Chinese government has rules prohibiting Chinese nationals from being full-time journalists for foreign media publications, but over the past few decades many Chinese writers and reporters have managed to take advantage of a loosening system or regulatory oversights to grow into experienced journalists and hugely talented — and hugely important — storytellers.


In the latest episode of Wǒ Men Podcast, we talk to a “news assistant” living and working in Beijing about the good, the bad and the ugly sides of the job, the changes that they have witnessed over the past few decades in the industry and what the future looks like for them.

Listen below on Mixcloud, or find Wǒ Men on iTunes here.

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