Jin Ding pulitzercenter.org
On May 15, 2019, I had the pleasure to attend the CUNY Correspondent’s dinner that was organized by the CUNY University Student Senate representative Hussein Abdul. In attendance that night was fellow CUNY student journalists, CUNY faculty and invited keynote speakers: Amanda Farinacci of NY-1, Alaa Elassar of CNN International Desk, and Jin Ding of the Pulitzer Center.
Keynote Speaker Jin Ding
I had the unique opportunity to speak with keynote speaker Ms. Jin Ding. As a result, from listening to her give such a brave speech about diversity in journalism, I spoke with her one on one to learn more about her journey into the field of journalism.
Ms. Ding is the Marketing and Communications Manager at the nonprofit news organization, the Pulitzer Center. The Pulitzer center provides support for journalists whose goals are to reports on in-depth and wide-ranging issues from places all around the world.
Jin Ding has spent the past five years working for the Pulitzer Center.
Journalism in China
In China, Ms. Ding studied for a sports management degree in journalism and worked for two years as a sports journalist. I asked Ms. Ding to described what it was like to work as a journalist in China. First she stated that covering sports in China was not controversial, but the job came with its restrictions.
The Chinese Communist Party maintains a restrictive and controlled hold over all things media. In a report by freedomhouse.org, 111 members of the media, that also included members of religious ethnic minorities received prison sentences of up to 19 years in China. The so-called crimes that these 111 people received punishment for were for freedom of expression or having access to information.
Within the two years of working in journalism, Ms. Ding was covering sports, her interest in chasing deadlines began to wane; subsequently she realized that this wasn’t the lifestyle that she wanted. Above all, her genuine desire was to do in-depth reporting, but there weren’t many opportunities to do so in China.
However, Ms. Ding began to build a network, and within the two years of working at that the sports desk, she recognized that China didn’t have a program that taught sports management. Her assessment was that sports teams in China would need sports managers, so with the help of her father, in 2011 she enrolled into the dual sports management graduate degree program with SUNY Cortland and London Metropolitan University.
Covering the 2012 Olympics
The graduate program landed Ms. Ding in London during the start of the 2012 Olympics. While studying in London, Ms. Ding contacted the newspaper she had worked for back in China. As a result, Ms. Ding convinced the former employer that she could cover the 2012 Olympics. Living at the time as a Londoner she was familiar with the area and she told her former employer she could cover the pre-reporting of the Olympic events. Her former employer made her their official Olympic correspondent, and from there, her life changed.
After covering the 2012 Olympics, Ms. Ding returned to the United States and began working for NBC Sports as an intern marketer researcher. After six months of interning at NBC Sports, Ms. Ding got a full-time job working for the Pulitzer Center.
Lack of Diversity in Newsrooms
Ding spoke about the lack of diversity in the newsroom. I wanted to know her opinion on where she saw the possibilities of increasing minority journalists in the newsroom in the next ten years to fifteen years. Her determination was that across this country newsroom lacks diversity. The subway ride up to the correspondents event inspired Ms. Ding to tweet that NYC is one the most diverse community, but if you look in the newsrooms in the city they are still very “white.”
She said that the New York Times is currently improving on their diversity in the newsroom. Consequently, she stated “The New York Times is still not there.” She informed me that the New York Times is in the twenty to thirty percent range when it comes to diversity which she expressed that it was “outrageous to think that they can’t get passed thirty percent.”
She continued stating that a lot of newspapers in this country are lower than thirty percent with employing minorities and labeled this practice as unacceptable. She attributed this problem to the lack of diversity with adverse reporting and she expressed that “bad reporting” bolsters biases that can affect the way a story is recorded.
Ms. Ding stated that she is torn by the way her country China is reported in the news. She is offended by the fact that some “random journalists” that has never learned anything about the Chinese culture or language, goes to China and conducts reporting that triggers people to think that the Chinese are evil people. These inept journalists write stories that deliver perceptions that the Chinese are taking American jobs and triggers an ill will attitude about the current trade war between China and the US. In addition, she made clear that the trade war is not only hurting the Chinese, but it is also hurting Americans too.
She stated that here in the states that inimical reporting also hurts Chinese communities by people influencing racist towards them. As an immigrant Ms. Ding noted that she “contributes to the tax system.”
Lastly, Ms. Ding went on to include that newsroom needs to hire journalist from different communities with different perspectives. She believes that people with these attributes will write the stories that will persuade people to see the human side that we can all relate to. To Ms. Ding diversity is a faraway goal, and more newsroom over time will improve.
She mentioned the organization Women’s Photograph tracks every major news organization that publishes images that are shot by women photojournalist. She said that Women Photograph public shames news organization that cannot use pictures that were taken by a female journalist.
Love for CUNY
Ms. Ding ended the interview by proclaiming her love for CUNY and its students. Most all, she said CUNY students come from all over the world, attending school while working full-time jobs. The CUNY student community she said knows what it is to be working class Americans, they know New York and beyond, because their families are immigrants. She concluded that ” I really value that and really value CUNY journalist students that could bring diversity into the newsroom.”