Yan Zhang worked as a reporter and editor in China for eight years before she joined the Alfred Friendly six-month fellowship program in March.
During her five-month placement at USA Today, Yan draws on her experience in China to help the Money team in its coverage of issues involving her home country.
Yan’s first bylines were spot stories on mortgage application dynamics, a patent lawsuit, and home sales. But then she went to work on in-depth stories centered on China and Chinese in America. Her first contribution was to an article on the U.S.-China trade war. (See links to other stories below video)
Yan is on leave from her reporting job in China, Hong Kong’s largest native online media for Chinese readers worldwide. She formed The Initium’s reporting team from mainland China, reports on topics such as urbanization and economic reform.
“Working under China’s Great Firewall for eight years, I’m thinking how the Wall affects the world, and how journalists respond to such influence,” Zhang said. “The best way to defend freedom is to continue to tell the truth. … I call my experience ‘peeling the onion’. I strip off the outer layer of the truth like peeling the onion skin, and show the core to the public.”
Vivian Wu, Hong Kong Bureau Chief of BBC World Services, said Zhang has produced “outstanding” stories explaining a rapidly transiting China to the readers. “Her angle is always international and comparative, never constrained to a local view,” Wu said. “For example, she has reported how the Internet empowered Chinese young mothers seek optional challenges for safe milk formula and children products through global e-commerce platforms.”
Zhang’s fellowship is funded by Bill and Christy Gautreaux, Norm and Lynette Siegel, and George Hanson.