Interview with Penny Peng, GBJ Student

Jun 192011

Penny Peng, a student at Tsinghua’s Global Business Journalism Program, interned at the U.S. Bureau of the People’s Daily in Washington, D.C. She will be graduating in July, 2011, and agreed to give a short interview about her experiences with the GBJ program.

ICFJ: Where are you from?

Penny Peng: I am from Wuhan in Hubei province and I got a bachelor’s degree in journalism at Huazhong University of Science and Technology, and another one in finance at Wuhan University.

ICFJ: What attracted you to business journalism in particular?

PP: I do think it’s a good combination of what I learned during my undergraduate career. I think a journalist who has his or her own specialty will be more competitive in the future, especially if it’s in economics, which is an important agenda in both China and the United States.

ICFJ: Why did you choose Tsinghua University’s Global Business Journalism Program (GBJ)?

PP: As the top university in China, Tsinghua was particularly attractive to me for its extensive network and great opportunities. To be honest, I was thinking about applying to graduate school in Hong Kong before I choose GBJ at Tsinghua. But most MA programs in HK last only one year.

ICFJ: Can you give me an example of an average day at GBJ? How many classes do you take a week?

PP: My days have been quite busy, as I took all the credits during the first year. I don’t quite remember the exact number of classes, but I had about 30 credits in the first two semesters. My classes have been fine, but of course, the biggest headache is the homework! It’s normal for me to stay up late for an assignment, as sometimes I have to do the research before, interview people, discuss with classmates, review the work again and again, and then finally—meet the deadline.

ICFJ: What has been your favorite part about the program? Are there any specific lectures or seminars that specifically stand out?

PP: My favorite part of the program has been the fabulous teachers, without a doubt. Professor Naileen Chou, Margie Freaney, Lee Miller, and almost all the lecturers we had, have helped us a lot— not only on improving the writing, reporting or editing skills, but also by sharing their great resources and experiences.

ICFJ: Does anything else stand out in your eyes about this program?

PP: It’s hard for me to compare, but so far, the program has helped me combine a global vision with a practical attitude. That’s a really important skill.

ICFJ: Could you tell me about your internship at the People’s Daily in Washington, D.C.?

PP: It was the first time that the People’s Daily’s U.S. Bureau had a student intern from China and it was a brand-new experience for me as well. I got a lot of my work published in the paper, which made me feel really good. It was also very good timing as President Hu just came to the U.S. for the state visit, which made it possible for me to take part in covering this big event. For most of the internship however, I did reports on economics and business, which used the skills I learned in the GBJ program.

ICFJ: Have you interned/worked with any other news organizations while at school?

PP: Yes, I completed a summer internship at Bloomberg Beijing bureau in 2010, and as mentioned, I interned at the People’s Daily U.S. Bureau.

Before that as an undergraduate, I interned for at least four media groups, including 21 Century Business Herald, a domestic leading business daily headquartered in Shanghai; Shenzhen Media Group, a TV station in Shenzhen, Chutian; Metropolitan, a local newspaper in Wuhan; and also Hubei and Wuhan TV station.

ICFJ: Do you think GBJ has equipped you to enter the world of international business journalism?

PP: Yes. With expertise in interviewing, writing, editing—and an economic and finance background—I’m looking forward to a real career in international business journalism.

ICFJ: How do you plan on using your degree? What do you see yourself doing five years after graduation?

PP: My first step is to find a job in the business reporting area. And actually, the program means more than a degree to me. I have learned skills here, made friends here, had my horizon broadened here, and also understood the journalism career better.

After five years, I wish to be a senior journalist in the area, who has at least a few really great works published.

ICFJ: Would you recommend this program to other students considering business journalism?

PP: Sure, I love the program.