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Time flies on a TRF course

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Wed, 23 Jan 2013 12:39 GMT
Author: Shi Shaopeng
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I can still remember the scene when I received the phone call from Thomson Reuters Foundation- I was at the gym and was so excited that I just shouted out happily without caring about people around me. I really appreciate the valuable opportunity that Thomson Reuters Foundation gave to me!

After all the preparation I was on my way to London, a city which means a lot to me.  In the next week, I would stay there to re-charge myself.  I found everything there in London was so mysterious and also attractive to me.

Keith Stafford, a veteran journalist, was one of the instructors for this programme. “How to eat an elephant,” I noticed that this question by Keith made everybody’s eyes pop.

“You mean you want to eat an elephant? That is a big dish,” I said.  

After a while of silence, Keith smiled and said “You eat it piece by piece.”  

Then all of us smiled and nodded.  Actually ‘elephant’ is just a metaphor which refers to the difficulties and challenges that journalists, especially investigative reporter, may encounter. We, of course, cannot eat an ‘elephant’ with one bite, but we can deal with this big issue step by step and piece by piece.  Just like an old saying in China, ‘you will cover large distances in small steps’.  What I learned from Keith is that any problem will be solved with your patience and persistence.

I also learnt a lot from our other instructor, Camila Reed, again another very experienced journalist.  In the simulation interview, Camila played the role as my interviewee, a government official asking to be off the-record.  This interview, of course, is related to corruption.  When I finished my reporting on the interview, I used the word ‘She’ when I quoted her.  Camila pointed out that I may cause some trouble to my interviewee because of this ‘detailed’ word ‘She’.

“If I were you, I would use the term ‘official’,” Camila said.  “There are fewer female government officials then male ones, so if you use ‘she’, she might be recognized”  Though that is only a small detail, it shows the attitude and experience of an outstanding journalist.

A fellow participant from Ethiopia impressed me most amongst the group.  He once worked for a newspaper and is now working for a radio station.  Keith allowed me to be an audience when he did his simulation interview.  I have to say that his interview techniques were really excellent.  He used almost all the interview skills that Keith had mentioned earlier.  His interviewee was really stressing during the interview.  It made me understand that I really have a lot to learn in journalism.

Time flew by and five days seemed too short for us to enjoy this programme. I really appreciate that Thomson Reuters Foundation gave me this valuable opportunity to further study journalism!  Thanks to the Foundation team for all they did for us.  I will always work hard as a journalist!

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