Chai Jing: I Am A Reporter

December 23, 2011
Editor: Zhao Chenxi

Well-known professional journalist and China Central Television (CCTV) presenter Chai Jing, born in the 70s, is noted for her direct, cut-to-the-point interview technique. The SARS epidemic, Wenchuan earthquake and various coal mining accidents are among the main events on which she has reported.

After going to study in Changsha, Hunan Province, in 1991, Chai wrote to the host of local radio program asking him to help her work in radio. Her initiative won her an interview and a part-time job.

Chai went on after graduating in accounting to work on Changsha TV station.

Chai's first TV appearance was in 1999 on Hunan TV while at the China Communications University, when she was invited to host a talk show called New Youth.

The desire for a challenge after graduating took Chai from New Youth to CCTV, where she became reporter and host of the news program Link Up. Unfamiliar with the language of mainstream media, this was a huge challenge to Chai. Hard work and innate professionalism soon helped her make the transition from talk show host to news reporter.

Chai Jing: I Am A Reporter
Chai has always had a direct journalistic approach. She said in one interview with the manager of a mill that infringed pollution limits, "You say your plant does not violate emission limits?" which he affirmed. "What is it, then, that I can smell as we sit here?" Chai asked. "I don't smell anything," he replied. "Nothing?" Chai persisted. "That's right," he said, "I don't have a nose as sharp as yours." Chai's response was a direct glare and a glassy smile.

Director of the CCTV critics department director Chen Mang later said to her, "When you know the complexity of reality, you will not judge a thing so quickly. Your youth is reflected in what you say. Your thinking lacks logic."

In her twenties at that time, Chai's boss often criticized her. She went to Wenchuan directly after the earthquake in 2008 to report on the disaster. After meeting a local family she decided to give up live broadcasting and go home with them. When her boss asked, "What are you trying to do?" Chai could only reply "I don't know."

Chai kept records of her time in that mountainous area. The materials she brought back consisted of unconnected items of daily occurrences that she compiled into a program called Seven Days at Yangliuping. After its first broadcast, a viewer wrote to the channel saying how deeply the program's everyday style of narration and humanitarian emphasis touched him.

After seeing the program, a seasoned CCTV worker commented, "In past shows Chai was always obviously aware of being young and pretty. It was in this program that she became an adult."

 "After that program, I began to change. Before I used to worry that something might happen. Now I feel safer in a state of 'not knowing'. It's a kind of respect for life. I was 32 that year, and a close relative of mine passed away. Having seen other people deal with death, it was my first experience of mortality. Experience has taught me that life is like water and flows and grows by itself. All you can do is to put aside your obsessions and watch the waves lapping the shore. This watery analogy is the life I like, rather than obsessive persuasion and explanation," Chai said.

Chai gets as close to the news as she can, and her sense and intuition make her an excellent news reporter.

In Chai's Own Words

Journalism is my profession and also way of life.

The road to people's hearts is the hardest, and a journalist may have to make sacrifices to win others' trust. The questions I ask bring people out of themselves.

If you don't care about people, you are not a journalist; and if you only care about people, but not the solutions to their situations, you will not become a good journalist.

A country is composed of people that create and decide how it will be. People can only be proud of their country if they pursue the truth, record reality, give regardless of how much they get, think independent thoughts, defend the Constitution and keep trying even though they know the world can never be perfect. It is only when a country has such brains and spirit that we can say we are confident of a better tomorrow.

(Source:, / Translated by

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