我的美國總統選舉報導之旅始於去年 4 月。當時，希拉蕊首次表態參加這次大選。我的中國媒體編輯交給我的第一項任務，就是先將焦點放在美國選舉的腐敗之處。但這段時間以來，整段選舉過程讓我愈來愈著迷。
2009 年，我加入中國出版集團財新傳媒，最終，財新在 2012 年給了我機會，讓我前往美國負責與亞太區有關的政治及經濟新聞。我也立刻抓住了這個契機。
幾年後，我來到了新浪。新浪是全球最大的網站之一，Alexa 全球排名第 13，每日頁面造訪人次超過 1 億，更擁有使用者超過 2 億的微博。這樣的數字聽來或許誇張，但中國（網路媒體）的爆炸性成長，傾向於讓少數幾間公司更為成功，也就是說，讀者的選擇相較於台灣、或美國，其實少得多。
這促使我們更加重視這些非傳統新聞。我在社群媒體和直播活動上投入的時間，與向北京編輯回報即時新聞一樣多，我們也花費許多時間製作記錄短片。我們在報導 2016 年選舉之時，將焦點放在這些新的媒介型態上。
到了 2 月，川普的瑞德福大學集會，坦白說，給我的感覺非常不自在。如果非得用一個詞來形容那場集會的話，我會選「充滿爭執」。所有外國媒體都被擋在門外，只能報導場外支持者與示威者之間的衝突。那時，我會猜，99% 的川普支持者都是白人。不斷有人被趕出會場，支持者高喊「建起圍牆」。那是種徹底的混亂。
前者的原因不難理解：美國的盟友希望藉由 TPP 強化美國對亞洲事務的參與程度，以抑制中國影響力的增長速度。TPP 的協商結果將直接影響亞太的實力平衡，所以它會是中國讀者眼中的關鍵議題。
而俄羅斯 DNC 駭侵指控，對中國人來說也同樣重要：中國常是美國網路安全問題的代罪羔羊，但中國人在乎此事，並不只是因為某種同病相憐之感。美國對此事件的反應、特別是希拉蕊的反應，才是中國人最關心的事。
許多人問，我們如何判定、推斷中國民眾對什麼有興趣？如果在 2012 年，我得承認，我們並不會真的觀察民眾或進行民調，以理解民眾想看的、想讀的事物。但在社群媒體和部落格普及之際，我們能（透過網站數據）輕易判斷哪些議題對中國社會來說最為重要。
正如我先前所言，新世代的個人新媒體記者，近期已有如雨後春筍般地出現，我也相信，為了他們、為了我的讀者，我有義務堅守我在第一線見到的事實，做出不帶偏見、負責任的報導。（本文部分內容由作者整理自 2016 年 10 月 11 日，於 DC 喬治華盛頓大學之演講內容）
〈Hillary's Brooklyn Melting Pot〉
〈Building the (Great) Wall— Chinese Americans are looking past Trump's racism〉
〈Global Journalist: The global Trump effect〉（Started from 20:30）
My Journey covering US election 2016 for Chinese Media
My coverage of the US Presidential election began in April of last year, when Hillary first made it known that she would be running. First assignment I got was from my Chinese editors was to focus initially on corruption in US election, but over time I became more and more enthralled in the process as a whole.
Let me just start by giving you a bit of background on myself, and how I ended up here in D.C. As I'm sure many of you are currently experiencing, college is a time of not just personal exploration, but also political. Back in my homeland of Taiwan, I became very involved in, and familiar with, the electoral and democratic process. I loved to chat and write about politics, social issues…, so it was a natural transition into journalism. I was offered a position at Caixin, one of the most prestigious publications in China, back in 2009. They eventually offered me the chance to come to the US in 2012 to cover political and economic news affecting the Asia Pacific region. I jumped at the opportunity.
After a couple years, Sina managed to lure me away from Caixin, in large part due to the influence and reach they have in the Chinese market. Sina is one of the largest online presences in the world, with a global Alexa rank of 13, and over 100 million daily pageviews. They also control Weibo, basically Chinese Twitter, with over 200 million users. This may seem like a crazy amount, but China's explosive growth favored greater success for fewer companies, meaning much less variety for readers.
In this US electoral process, rather than focusing on the traditional narrative, we wanted to dig deeper into the American public's view of the process. Why people are angry? Why there's such a strong Bernie grassroots movement? Most Asian media isn't much different from American media in this regard? There's a huge focus on the two-party power players, but rarely do they dig much deeper. Not to throw anyone under the bus, but I've noticed many Chinese news outlet did little more than roughly translate Western media articles. I wanted to help break this mold, write American story through an Chinese Journalist eye and perspective, and what I've seen recently both in China and the US has given me a lot of hope for the future.
Since the 2012 election, we've seen an explosion in the amount of content being put out there by non-traditional sources on overlooked topics. We see it on Weibo, Twitter, Wechat and blogging platforms. More and more citizens, from both countries, are becoming involved and sharing their views with the rest of the electorate. For example, we've seen a ton of Chinese students in America documenting their experiences through social media and live-streaming. The Chinese public now has a lot more options on where to get their content.
This has inspired us at Sina to focus on more of this non-traditional news. I spend as much time engaging on social media and live-streaming events as I do relaying breaking news to our Beijing-based editors. We've put a lot more time into making short documentaries. These are the kinds of things we've been focusing on when covering the 2016 election.
My experiences with the election this time around have been as varied as the ways I try to report them. For example, there's been a huge difference in feel between the different rallies and conventions I've been to. Hillary's campaign is very organized and composed. I was lucky enough to be the first Chinese journalist to tour the Hillary HQ in New York, by reaching out to their field organizer and then their AAPI Director. The headquarters was lively and welcoming. And in private chats, employees were passionate and kind. However, Hillary and DNC reps have always seemed to stick to the script in interviews, which often makes them seem stiff or boring. They never really fire off the cuff, which is obviously the polar opposite of Trump's rhetoric.
A Bernie Sanders town hall I attended had an even friendlier feel. There were no strict entry procedures or confrontations among the mostly very young crowd. Everyone was welcome, and sincerely discussed topics affecting their communities. I was thrilled by one of his campaign staff by greeting me by name. A congenial feeling permeated the event.
To be completely honest, what I experienced at Trump's Radford University rally this February was much more uncomfortable. If I had to pick a word to describe it, it would be contentious. All foreign media were denied access at the door, and were stuck covering the clash between protestors and supporters outside. I'd guess 99% of the supporters were white. People were constantly being kicked out; supporters were chanting “Build the Wall”. It was absolute chaos.
After the Radford University event, I decided I wanted to know more about any minority groups, especially Chinese, which may be supporting Trump. I thought they would be extremely rare, but after asking for some help from relatives in New York, I managed to discover the Chinese Americans for Trump group. By participating very early on in the formation of the group, I was able to gain their trust and get them to open up about their motivations. Operating mostly on WeChat, and in Chinese, they are largely first generation immigrants, many with green cards earned through real estate investment. As time went on and they gained more exposure, however, they became far more elitist and controlling in how they dealt with the media. I started to see why they were supporting Trump.
After everything I'd seen, I didn't know exactly what to expect going into the RNC, but I had a feeling it would be The Trump Show. I wasn't wrong. Speaking to Republicans there, I got the distinct feeling that they were only supporting him because they felt they had to. You know all about the various controversies from the event, but these conversations with everyday Republicans were what really hit home the most for me.
At the DNC, I was of course expecting The Hillary Show. I was surprised to discover that a very high percentage were there for The Bernie Show. Walking around, seeking out brief interviews, it was actually difficult to locate Hillary supporters. This Bernie/Hillary battle made for a much more chaotic convention than I expected.
Despite all this, there is a large contrast in how the Chinese public sees these candidates. They know of Hillary's experience as Secretary of State and her strong stances on South China Sea policy and human rights. Whenever there’s something like a Weibo poll, there's always a very negative impression of Hillary.
Trump, on the other hand, is actually quite popular. People know him as a successful businessman. In Chinese culture, there is a strong respect for those who achieve success in business, especially in things like real estate. And while he’s not exactly a self-made man, many Chinese see him that way. They also think he’s fun to watch. But sadly, the biggest selling point for Trump among the Chinese is the chaos that he’s brought to this election. State media has compared the rise of Trump to that of Hitler or Mussolini, emphasizing the dangers of democracy, and many members of the public enjoy seeing the US electoral process as a joke.
I am aware that what you’ve heard from me so far makes me sound decidedly anti-Trump, but I still believe I’m neutral. There are strengths and weaknesses to all the candidates, but it’s difficult for me to ignore the negativity that’s come from Trump’s rhetoric. In my opinion, it’s a huge over simplification. We’re losing jobs, China’s fault. Factories are closing, China’s fault. These are complex, global issues we’re talking about here. China and the US do not exist in a vacuum. I think this will definitely stifle improvements in Sino-US relations.
People always ask me about what drives Chinese Interest in this US election, and what ways they differ from Americans on some of the key issues.
Economically and geopolitically, the Chinese are obviously very interested in news that concerns them specifically. One such example would be changes within the US economy or economic policy. Any events that change the dynamic between the two greatest superpowers are going to be of utmost importance to the Chinese. A couple examples would be South China Sea, the TPP, and accusations of Russian hacking of the DNC. Through the TPP, American allies are looking to strengthen American engagement in the region in order to stifle the growth of Chinese influence. The result of the TPP negotiation will directly affect the Asia Pacific power dynamic, so this is a key issue for Chinese readers.
The Russian DNC hacking accusations are also important to the Chinese, and not just because of a sort of solidarity with Russia in being a constant scapegoat for US cyber security blunders. The American reaction, specifically Hillary's, to this event is what concerns them most. Clinton stated that the US would “treat cyber-attacks just like any other attack”, threatening “political, economic, and military responses”. The Chinese view this is an immature and dangerous response, as do many Americans it seems. Obama's cyber security policy, on the other hand, stresses deterrence and proportional response. This is certainly a contributing factor in the Chinese being much more favorable towards Obama than Clinton.
Now, equally as notable are social dynamic issues, of huge importance in America, which the Chinese just don't seem to care much about. Things like racism or rhetoric against Muslim communities just aren't seen as important. The idea of “racism” is a tricky one for the Chinese, as it can be with other non-melting-pot countries. Countries like China and Japan have been described as being fairly xenophobic. And while xenophobia doesn't necessarily mean physical characteristics, the demographics of places like China are mostly uniform. There may be large cultural differences across China's different regions, but physically, they look mostly the same. So for the Chinese, especially those outside tier 1 cities with large international presences, the idea of racism being a core issue is completely foreign.
Discrimination against Muslims is a touchier subject in China than general racism. While racism might be seen as a non-issue, the Muslim issue is a sensitive one. There are ongoing tensions between China and their Xinjiang Autonomous Region, home to many Chinese ethnic minorities, many which are Muslim. The government's treatment of these peoples, for example, outlawing two dozen names that they considered “too Muslim”, or prohibiting men from having beards, would suggest that most Chinese would not really be phased by Trump's anti-Muslim rhetoric.
Last, let me just talk a little bit about the media's role in this election process. Many people have asked how we decide or sense what the interests of the Chinese public are. Back in 2012, I would have said that we don't really look to or poll the public on what they'd want to see and read. But with the advent of social media and blogging, it's easy for us to tell what issues are most important to Chinese society.
When I take a step back and look at the whole of the media industry, I see a lot of similarities between the US and China. The majority of Chinese media is state-run, and as a result, you often see a very negative reaction to the viability of Democracy. However, in many cases, I don't see the US media as much better. There are outlets with extreme left or right biases, and most convey a negative message about the way Chinese politics operates.
I cannot take sides. I'm sure it's partially because as a Taiwanese person, I have a more neutral view. But I've also drawn huge inspiration from honest and unbiased media sources in both the US and China. They have shown me that it's possible to break from this idea of taking sides and only reporting the negative. As I said before, a new generation of individual new media journalists has sprung up recently, and I feel I owe it to them and to my readers to report in a responsible and unbiased manner by sticking to the fact I see in the front line.
Photo Credit：唐家婕 提供