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Yuan Duanduan

A reporter from Southern Weekly (http://www.infzm.com), consistently focusing on health and medical news. This prestigious newspaper (also known as China’s New York Times) is China’s most popular national weekly investigative newspaper, with a circulation of 1.6 million. It is also the only Chinese media to interview president Obama during his visit to China in 2009.

During the course of her five-year work experience, Duanduan has reported extensively on health and medicine issues and covered diverse range of topics – cancer in women, rare diseases affecting children, pollution, and food safety issues. Her work has been highly regarded across the country. In acknowledgement of these activities she has been granted a number of awards, both in China and abroad. One of those is the 2014 Global Health Reporting Contest announced by ICFJ.

 

1. Why did you choose to become a science journalist?

Journalism has always been my lifetime ambition. I am excited by the prospect of searching for the truth, and science especially medicine is the most appealing area for me. I would love to see that non-scientists are able to understand and appreciate science, while still communicating science information accurately. The further I advance in my profession the more I realize that journalism is not about me and my career, but about real-life stories I can communicate and about the lives they can change. There is no greater joy than the one you feel when your story has a positive impact on the lives of patients or when you are able to share the news of a scientists’ medical discovery which will improve lives for years to come.

 

2. What role do science and science communication play in your country?

It plays an increasing role in China, since our country is developing so fast, a development which brings along some complicated problems. Most of them need a scientific explanation. For example, it is no secret that China is struggling with environmental issues and the resulting public health risks that goes together with the country’s pursuit of economic growth and emergence on the world-stage as a superpower. The public wants to know more about those problems. So we need science communication everywhere to make people aware of things happening in their daily life.

 

3. In your opinion, which are the walls that will have to fall in science and society within the next five years?

I guess one of them is cancer treatment, in the past people thought that cancer was an incurable disease, but immunotherapy will achieve great things. And also, the network blocking problem will be solved. Another is discrimination of homosexuality.

 

4. What are the biggest threats/obstacles to good science journalism and how could we tackle them?

The prejudice and distrust of journalists in China. There are many situations where the government and scientists don’t want to be interviewed or to communicate with the public, especially with regard to controversial topics.People have often held a cynical view of media outputs since, for many years, the Chinese government has maintained tight restrictions on the country’s media and internet usage. What we could do is to foster further communication and education for both, our government and the public. And journalists themselves should keep pace with scientific changes and acquire more professional knowledge in order to better understand them first.

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