Telum Talks To...Wu Haiyun, Senior Associate Editor, Sixth Tone
Can you introduce your role and duties at Sixth Tone?
I am currently the Senior Associate Editor at Sixth Tone, where I joined in the autumn of 2015 before the publication launching in 2016. Over the past seven years, I have sit in different roles at Sixth Tone in news and feature desks, and have been working with the commentary desk as an Editor for years. At Sixth Tone, my specialities are culture, arts, tech and history.
What is Sixth Tone's positioning and target audience?
As China's first all-digital English-language media, Sixth Tone is committed to presenting "fresh voices from today's China" to provide our audience, an international group of people who has interests in knowing about China, with innovative contents, flexible communications strategies and various formats of stories.
Main sections of Sixth Tone?
There are four main sections in Sixth Tone: News, In-depth Reporting and Features, Commentary and Columns, and Multimedia Stories. We will release a new version of the website later this month, which will include two new sections: Q&A Interviews and Announcements about Sixth Tone’s events and other initiatives.
How would Sixth Tone differentiate its coverage from other media?
We prefer topics that are light-hearted, which means we barely look at politics, military and economics but focus more on cultural and life stories. We feature ordinary individuals in our stories to present a wider picture of the Chinese world, a world that are complex, diverse and ever-changing. That's also the reason why our coverage's described as "small and beautiful" by some media professionals. I would say that's quite precise as we are a small team that is able to produce something decent and beautiful.
What difficulties is Sixth Tone experiencing or has it experienced in recent years?
The emerging of self-media brought challenges to Sixth Tone. We tell stories of people, but what if the people start writing stories on their own social media? It's a challenge for media as what we produce may not be that compelling compared to those on self-media platforms.
Though Sixth Tone is an all-digital media, textual content has always been essential among all forms of content. However, with short videos grabbing people's attentions, we have to re-think and adjust our content structure and strategies.
Are there certain factors that influence the direction of the China reporting industry?
We didn't expect Covid to have such an impact on the world; we didn't expect social media to have such a magical power; and just a few months ago we didn't expect AI to have evolved to this extent! All these changes will have a substantial impact on the media.
However, I am still very optimistic about journalism. Journalists would enjoy facing changes and challenges, or at least not fear about it. The media is there to report on the changes. Factors like international relations would only affect the angle how people think of the world or China. We always feel encouraging when someone who never know China starts looking at China stories.
What is your view on the future of China reporting?
I believe that contemporary China is a mine of stories. There is a huge number of well-educated, hard-working and pragmatic people in China. In other words, there will never be a shortage of sources for Chinese reporting. What we need to pay attention to is to be humble. We in the media need to keep reminding ourselves that if we can't produce good China stories, it's not about the stories, it's about us.
This interview's originally written in Chinese.