Filling Foreign News Gaps with Scholars: Asia Beat

I’m working with the Association for Asian Studies, the Journal of Asian Studies and Jeffrey Wasserstrom on a new news proposal. We’re one of 51 finalists of some 1,000 entries to the Knight News Challenge and will find out in a few weeks if they will help fund the project. In the meantime, we’re looking for more ideas to make this project work and make it sustainable.

Knight took down all the proposals (made public on their Tumblr) as they prepare for their next round of applicants, but I wanted to preserve our proposal here and continue to invite comments. Click on the image below to enlarge it and see the full text, including comments. Then come back here and leave comments if you have any. moved the proposals to a new Tumblr and you can still find ours online, where you can comment, like and share the pitch.

 

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Part 2 of my interview with Rob Schmitz

In the Los Angeles Review of Books:

In part 2 of this interview, Rob Schmitz talks more about factory workers in China, the vast system of netting installed at factory dormitories to cut back on worker suicides, the problems with and opportunities for doing responsible journalism in China, and his book recommendations.

Listen here.

Part 1 of my interview with Rob Schmitz

In the Los Angeles Review of Books:

“Rob Schmitz is the Shanghai bureau chief for American Public Media’s Marketplace. He broke the story about Mike Daisey, showing that Daisey’s reporting on Chinese factory workers for This American Life was full of fabrication. He talks here with Angilee Shah about that story, about reporting in China, and about the problems trying to understand the vast, rapidly changing country. This is Part 1 of 2 — the rest of the interview next week.”

Listen to the podcast here.

April 18 at UCLA, I’ll be in coversation with Marketplace China correspondent Rob Schmitz

These days, Rob is in the news for debunking the Mike Daisey Foxconn investigation that aired on This American Life. We’ll be talking about that story and his other reporting on China for American Public Media’s Marketplace radio program at UCLA on April 17. Is there something you want me to ask? Please leave your questions in comments.

The Challenge of Covering a Fast-Changing China
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
12:30 PM – 2:00 PM
Presentation Room 11348 YRL
UCLA Charles E. Young Research Library [map]

How is China’s economy changing and how is this affecting its people and the world?  What are the biggest obstacles and most exciting aspects of reporting on this increasingly important topic?  These are the kinds of issues to be discussed in a conversation between journalist and editor Angilee Shah, and Rob Schmitz, American Public Media’s Marketplace China correspondent, who along with covering a host of important stories, related to everything from labor rights to education to the rise of consumerism, played the key role in exposing the fabrications in Mike Daisey’s account of Foxconn factories on This American Life and then was featured in that show’s much discussed retraction episode.

Here’s the official UCLA announcement.

First press on Chinese Characters comes from Beijing

The collection of essays about everyday lives in China that I have been working on for about two years made its pre-publication debut in China at the M Literary Festival. Chinese Characters contributors Evan Osnos, Ian Johnson, Michelle Loyalka, Christina Larson and my co-editor Jeffrey Wasserstrom spoke on the “Art of the Profile” at a Beijing panel discussion earlier this month.

Our first mass media press, therefore, also happened in China. The English-language Beijing newspaper Global Times sent a reporter to the panel, who in turn wrote a preview article of our book. The story, “China at face value,” begins this way:

“There has never been a lack of good books about the history of China, from detailed analytical narration of its 5,000-year civilization to numerous travelogues depicting the country’s vast, grandeur landscapes.

“Although the Middle Kingdom has always held allure to outsiders, ordinary Chinese folks, or laobaixing, are often seen as just faces in the crowd. However, those faces are given a chance to bask in the spotlight in Chinese Characters: Fast-Changing Lives in a Fast-Changing Land, a book co-edited by Jeffrey Wasserstrom, a history professor at the University of California, and Angilee Shah, a freelance journalist and editor in Los Angeles.”

India, China, and the Importance of Storytelling

Every time they fly in and out of Mumbai, tourists, businesspeople, and politicians can see blue-tarp and cardboard rooftops squeezed between condominiums and luxury hotels. The irony of Mumbai’s slums is that the urban poor are ubiquitous, simultaneously visible and invisible.

But seeing slums from the perspective of those who inhabit them — and not just an aerial view — is crucial to gaining real insight into a place. As UCLA historian Vinay Lal asks, “How else is one to understand a civilization and a particular junction in time?”

Katherine Boo’s debut book, Behind the Beautiful Forevers, offers readers the chance to see this India from the ground up.

Read on at Miller-McCune.

Bollywood in L.A.

Growing up in Kashmir, Raj Singh loved going to the theater. “In Kashmir, I was watching two movies in a day,” Singh recalls. “Here, I have no time to see movies.”

Movies, instead, are Singh’s job. As general manager of the Naz 8 cinema in Artesia, which is northeast of Long Beach, he runs an operation that screens Bollywood movies — as many as 12 shows a day, seven days a week.

Read on in

What Obama Missed in Indonesia

President Barack Obama’s visit to Indonesia was cut short because of volcanic ash, but what he missed was an annual tradition that says a lot about a country relatively unfamiliar to most Americans. Indonesia marks Heroes’ Day every Nov. 10 to commemorate extraordinary service to the nation.

Among those considered this year for addition to a list of national heroes was the late Abdurrahman Wahid, affectionately known by Indonesians as Gus Dur. If Obama’s trip to Indonesia was an opportunity to introduce Indonesia to Americans, getting to know Wahid would have been a good place to start.

Read on and comment at the Huffington Post.

Deeper Reading: Recent Titles on Islam around the World

If you are reading and watching American news in the last few weeks, you are probably simultaneously seeing a lot and very little about Islam in America today. The conversation surrounding Park51, the Islamic community center slated to be built in Lower Manhatten, is often very shallow, with little explication of terms and nuance. Words are being thrown around — Muslims, freedom, the Muslim Brotherhood, jihad  — as though they are self-explanatory and monolithic. Here are a few titles I have reviewed recently that might give a deeper understanding of the issues behind this politicized debate: