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Reporters - as seen on TV!

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Chen Hao as a fashionable reporter

Two subjects to which Danwei turns its attention most frequently are the entertainment world and the mainstream media. Much of the time we're looking at how the entertainment world - Super Girls, for example - is portrayed in the Chinese press.

So it's interesting to run across a look at the flip side - how Chinese reporters are portrayed by the entertainment world. Sanlian columnist Meng Jing had a short piece in a recent issue that picked apart exactly how much journalists in soaps resemble their counterparts in the real world.

Chinese Reporters in TV Shows

by Meng Jing / Sanlian, 10 April 2006)

A recent TV series starred Chen Hao in the role of a magazine reporter. We ignore for the moment whether her white-collar everyday apperance resembled a reporter or not, and simply mention her annual salary: 500,000 yuan, an amount of money I've never heard of a mainstream media reporter making, apart from an editor-in-chief or agency president. But you can imagine the efforts of the screenwriters - if she didn't earn that much every year, then she'd have no way to live in a large, windowed room, drive a nice car, and meet a high-class boyfriend. Similarly, in another TV show, Romance in the City (男才女貌), an unemployed, recently graduated college student lives in a luxury apartment where the living room is bigger than 30 square meters, and there's a picture window looking out onto a balcony, a bar, and dream-like interior decorating. Knowing that the setting is Shanghai, the monthly rent on this place would be at least 10,000 yuan. If the main character's role were switched with a minor celebrity then it'd be believable.

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The staff of a Shanghai fashion mag in Adieu

Returning to Chen Hao's character, the director had at the very least encountered a few reporters at press conferences, so it's unclear why he had to imagine a reporter dressed up like an office lady in brand-name clothes from Guomao and Yansha. True, some business and fashion reporters will wear such clothes at formal banquets, but in everyday life and while doing interviews they won't worry so much about it unless they've already found themselves a rich guy. But in the TV show, Chen Hao's character is a young woman like Li Tiemei [self-reliant revolutionary heroine of the model opera The Red Lantern], devoted to her work and unwilling to rely on a man. In reality, this field has incredibly relaxed clothing requirements for reporters. One mainstream paper in Beijing mocked the politics reporters of another paper for dressing like migrant workers, and entertainment reporters are even more garish - as kawaii as they want.

Perhaps because those in entertainment circles detest reporters, the reporters in their works are all rather moronic. In the Korean soap Full House, when mega-star Rain arrives in Shanghai, a group of TV reporters surround him, asking him questions like, "How do you feel about Shanghai? How many times have you been to Shanghai?" and the star is visibly annoyed. It can't be denied that there is a bit of truth to this show, but what rings false is that that the reporters don't ask about any scandals. They are obviously ringers brought in by the promoters - no sense of professional training.

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Three crack reporters from old Shanghai in Romance in the Rain

The phoniness shows through even in those traditional-style TV shows that have reporters playing the lead. In Hai Yan's The Great Love in Your Life (你的生命如此多情), the female reporter at that magazine house, from start to finish, doesn't publish a single story, even over the course of several months. She first goes to set up an interview with a noted entrepreneur, but he ignores her. Later on she falls in love with his son and gets an interview opportunity. This self-sacrifice for the greater story is commended as "not bad" by her boss, who advises her to revise it several more times. Finally, the boss that she interviewed kicks the bucket - this should be the best time to publish! But the story is still under wraps, and they're not afraid of it spoiling! I was quite puzzled at the time - was this magazine a weekly, monthly, or an annual yearbook? Did it care nothing for timeliness? They weren't writing Dream of the Red Mansions, so there really was too much attention to detail for details' sake.

In another anti-sexual harassment TV series, Disgrace (女人不再沉默), the female reporter was once again at a magazine house. Why is it always a magazine? There's something profound here - a newspaper is too busy and too tiring, so there's no time to reflect the protagonist's expertise in diverse relationships; though they'd be on display quite often at a TV station, that would need a host and an on-screen female reporter, with a buff guy to follow them carrying the equipment. She'd open wide her bright, innocent eyes, and talk with the mayor about superficial topics of little interest to the public. The reporter in Disgrace is still an intern, but when the editor-in-chief waves her obviously unoriginal "intimate style" report in front of everyone, promotes her to a full position, and immediately puts in applications to get her official documentation and a housing fund, those editors who've been there for years at an hourly wage are left gaping in astonishment. Afterward, the reporter need work no longer, and starts down the long road of protecting her rights.

The biggest failing of reporters in domestic TV shows is that they don't live in the same world as the common public. Their work and its compensation are unbalanced, and although some of the creators may be former journalists who've changed professions, they are recalling an era under the planned economy. Reporters in TV shows live lives in a utopia.

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There are currently 1 Comments for Reporters - as seen on TV!.

Comments on Reporters - as seen on TV!

I don't think that Chen Hao can be expected to act in anything realistic.

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