The boss hovered over and said, “Eric, let’s talk.”

This is odd because my boss doesn’t speak much English. What did I do? What did I not do?

I went to the end of the hall with him where he takes his smoke breaks by the window.

He lit up.



Looking out the window he started talking about his daughter. He wanted me to tutor her in English before she went off to college next fall.

His daughter happens to be a brilliant young lady who had just turned down the opportunity to study in America because she was accepted by one of China’s top schools, Peking University in Beijing. An impressive feat considering the fierce competition surrounding a school like this in an overpopulated country like China.

She’s studying journalism in one of the best schools in a country with one of the strangest outlooks on the art form. It has been called “Marxist Journalism.” Marxist Journalism is essentially that journalism which promotes, guides and does not rock the social order of things already established. Chinese harmony is imperative to the art form. Puppetry if you will.

But I get to meet with her twice a week for the next few months and discuss anything I want. Anything! She is a delight and her English is excellent so we can get pretty deep into issues.

You’ve heard of propaganda. You’ve heard of The Great Chinese Firewall. You’ve heard of benign journalism that puts people to sleep.

For example: We were talking about the Dalia Lama (a terrorist to some in this country) and it came up that in 89’ he won the Nobel Peace Prize and she was shocked. She had never heard that before. And then I told her about the Burnside Writers Collective and she was shocked because she couldn’t read it because it is censored and blocked (I didn’t really tell her about Burnside but it is still blocked by the firewall to prove my point). And yesterday I read the paper about the new shiny train that goes from one city to the next (snore).

I imagine that journalism in this country will change in the next twenty or thirty years but for now the government still meddles in the press and sniffs out the dissenters who want to tell the real story. This kind of media turns out child-proof-news with no edges or slants. Safe, swallow-able tablets called news. Though, in some respect it might be better than the dogfight that the news organizations are engaged in back home. There are definitely no Jon Stewart’s or Colbert’s in this country, not yet anyway. But there is Sally . . . my boss’s daughter.

So what would you say to a future Chinese journalist if you had her ear for the next few months?