Hi dear readers, long time no see! Realize I’ve broken my blogging streak for the first time in years — June whizzed past so fast I barely had time to reflect amid the journalism grind. But now that we’re past midpoint of my internship, it’s a good time to pop on here for some long-overdue life updates.
Started my internship at Bloomberg News on May 31, my birthday!!! We underwent four days of training before going to our teams — it’s been five weeks since and I’ve just moved over from the Agriculture Asia team to the Tech Asia team.
Will probably do a longer post in August about my experience as a whole, but I love the stories I’ve gotten a chance to work on at Bloomberg so far — we have the autonomy to pitch, pursue leads, do independent interviewing and reporting, and support for how to leverage the platform to execute ideas; and I’ve learned many valuable lessons that I’ll take with me wherever I go next in journalism/life.
Anyways, what I think might be fun to do on this blog today is a mini…
Behind the scenes!
Below are four of the main stories I’ve worked on and a glimpse into the process (inspiration, pitching, reporting), from newest to oldest:
I’ve always been interested in this revival of xiangchou and rural entrepreneurship through new media forms. And obviously livestreaming is close to heart since I wrote an entire manuscript on it HAHA.
After pitching the idea to my team leader Jasmine, I started messaging rural livestreamers/influencers on Douyin. Out of more than twenty, Jin Guowei (丽江石榴哥) and Guo Chengcheng (田野里的七月) were the quickest to reply. We did phone interviews and the story idea started taking shape — the key thing was to show what was new about rural livestreaming since Covid-19 and how this differed from previous Bloomberg coverage of other forms of social commerce, e.g. Viya, mutual fund livestreaming.
I reached out to ByteDance’s PR through a friend to ask for statistics. A few days later, the spokesperson not only replied with comments, but also a new public report that Douyin had just released on the day itself about rural content creators. That gave the story an even sharper news peg.
After Jasmine pitched it to the Quicktake video team, I recorded another set of video interviews with Jin and Guo and did a short voiceover. See the gorgeous video they produced below (thank you Stella! 79K views and counting OMG):
This started with a report in the local Australian media that I’d read while surfing the web — after pitching it to Jasmine and our intern boss Ed, they said there had to be much stronger data to support the hunch and outside voices from the Aussie government, lobster fishermen, analysts, etc.
We ended up finding solid data which truly indicated that a lobster “gray trade” was alive and kicking; I culled Australian export data, import data on the mainland side, export data on the HK side, made some graphs and had the help of many wonderful people who pointed me to the right sources (things I should know, contacts I should speak to). The experts gave great comments and gradually the story fleshed itself out.
And at the end of it, my editor Ed and I went through a 45-min session to check and double-check every single datapoint and claim. (A learning experience in itself.) And then whoosh—
Out the story hurtled into the world.
Our commodities managing editor Anna assigned this to me as a charticle task — a kind of summary of what exactly was happening across various commodities. And the task was incredibly daunting at first because I had close-to-zero knowledge of steel, coal, copper, hogs markets, etc. and how they all fit together in the wider commodities universe.
The Beijing editors were incredibly helpful in guiding me on throughout. First was checking the price tickers on the Terminal and making line charts of these futures — prices have been soaring and peaked in May. Reaching out to analysts and seeking their comments. To even able to write a word on the situation, I needed to delve into Bloomberg’s recent coverage of China’s clampdown on this massive rally — what was driving the boom? Why was Beijing cracking down on it? What have they done so far, is it working and is success likely to continue? Can one country truly control prices in a time of global stimulus and pent-up demand?
(sadly there’s no durian emoji)
This was the first story I did on my own. I’d been just scrolling on apps (as per usual) and saw a headline about China’s 618 mid-year shopping festival. A little digging around yielded an interesting observation: Malaysian durians — my mom’s absolute favorite — were topping the charts. So came the story idea. Were durians always so popular in China? Why from Malaysia? Bloomberg had written about Malaysia’s durian diplomacy ambitions before — were those ambitions being actualized amid the pandemic?
Ags team members kindly shared their contacts for Malaysian durian farmers and exporters who I can reach out to. Speaking to them changed parts of the story — I understood the difference in technique between Thai and Malaysian durians, the policy angle (China only opened imports to Malaysian frozen whole durians a couple years ago), and even the commercial growth aspect, which is always central to a Bloomberg story. After all, follow the money! 💸
If you have any cool ideas/things you’d like to read…
or if you want to have a conversation…
Meanwhile, lots of love always,