The last five years have seen an exodus of serious reporters and broadcasters from the nationally owned CCTV. Bai Yansong, a journalist with more than 20 years of experience in the field, is one of the few clinging to the station.
Bai graduated from Communication University of China in 1989 and was assigned to work at China National Radio. Four years later, Bai participated in making the program Dongfang Shikong (Eastern Times) and started his career as a professional TV journalist.
Bai’s humorous speaking style and perceptive sense of society have made him popular with viewers. In many ways, his unique use of language made Bai an antidote to the stilted and obviously scripted delivery of most Chinese news.
Today, Bai is a highly respected commentator and the author of numerous books that record his insights into China’s contemporary social issues and politics.
Bai Says, an ersatz “Chicken Soup” for journalists, follows his earlier books Are You Happy and Painful While Happy. Its name is a double entendre meaning both the literal “Bai Says” as well as to speak in vain.
The book talks about exchanges with people throughout his 15-year reporting career, and includes conversations with politicians, educators, revolutionaries, philosophers and others.
Bai said he doesn’t have Weibo or WeChat accounts and denied any association with the comments by “Bai Yansong” posted online. He said he never wanted to be seen as a champion for online speech.
But that doesn’t mean he is afraid of conflict with the people generating fake news. He said he doubted a journalist could actually be a journalist without offending anyone.
In the book, he points out that China’s public voices are always arguing and debating, but none bother to think about a way to solve problems in the middle of their criticism.