Op-ed: Opening journalists to a global mindset

I grew up as one who always sticks up for others. The older I get, the more interested I become in speaking up for social justice. Although China has many great journalists and media figures, the mainstream media is still censored and restricts a lot of information. As a result, many citizen journalists, or “snow shovelers,” dig to reveal the truth. Growing up in such an environment, I decided to pursue journalism in college.

However, I knew studying journalism in China is risky due to those restrictions from authority. That’s why I found Emerson. It is the best place for me because of its location in downtown Boston and its wonderful journalism program. I arrived as a keen student who pictured herself as a future Pulitzer Prize winner. Yet now I sit in the advisor’s office, seriously contemplating the possibility of switching my major.

This is not because my passion for journalism faded. Actually, I’ve never felt more enthusiastic about my journalistic career. But after two months at Emerson, my experience tells me that studying journalism here might not be the best idea. People here seem to care too much about politics and focus more on the domestic news while ignoring most international news.

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When school started, I felt Emerson assumed all journalism students have the same cultural background and want to work in the country after graduation. The journalism department requires us to take a civics test similar to the U.S. citizenship test. The school shouldn’t expect international students to know everything about the U.S. government. Not only am I a non-U.S. citizen, but I’m not planning to pursue political journalism or stay in the U.S. post-graduation. Most international students cannot even stay in the U.S. after graduation anyways due to the cruel lottery system used to obtain the H-1B working visa. Given these reasons, I thought international students would have a lower passing grade. However it wasn’t, and I failed. For the first time, I felt studying journalism at Emerson might not be the best idea for me.

I also feel like most people in the U.S. do not care about international issues. It is weird to see news agencies caring more about the Red Sox than the tsunami in Indonesia that happened on Sept. 28. News agencies also focus primarily on domestic politics instead of international politics. As I browse through the news apps in my phone every night before I sleep, all I read about is Trump slamming someone as “horseface” or commenting on Elizabeth Warren’s DNA test, while news about international politics like the reunification between South Korea and North Korea weakens. Because of this, I tend to skip all news related to politics. Yet, I feel obligated to read it, because if not, I fail quizzes or am unable to participate more in my classes. Therefore, I must force myself to read it, or put it directly into Google translate and get a quick glance.

I agree that it is hard to change. Most Americans only focus on domestic news. It is different in China, even though the agencies and authority filter most news. We still can get most of the international news from news agencies and the trending of social media apps like Weibo, which is similar to twitter.

It is true that, since international students are in the U.S. now, we should learn the happenings in this country. However, as a school that strives for inclusivity and worldwide expansion and with the top ranking journalism program in the country, Emerson should teach future journalists a global vision.

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