Hi Comm Majors! Over the next several weeks I’ll be posting about the Penn Media Scholars in China: Annenberg’s new summer institute. The competitive program involves a 3+ week trip which immerses undergraduate students in the media environment in China, and includes site visits to media institutions and internet firms in Beijing and Hangzhou, as well as opportunities to meet with Chinese university students and global media industry professionals.
This year’s student group, led by Professor of Communication and Sociology Guobin Yang, embarked on June 5, 2017. To find out more about their experience, the participants have graciously provided responses to an email interview for DotComm.
Consider applying for next year’s trip (more info on that here). Applications are due in January for the summer 2018 trip. In the meantime, enjoy what your fellow comm majors are experiencing by reading below!
1. Why did you decide to apply and go on the Penn Media Scholars Trip to China?
2. Had you ever been to China before? What were your expectations going into the trip?
Since my mother’s family is from China, I usually visit every 2 years or so. Going into the trip, I did not really know what to expect apart from the fact that I would be able to gain a deeper understanding into the Chinese media industry.
3. What have you been surprised by during your time in China?
I find it surprising that even though Chinese citizens have somewhat limited access to media and the internet, at least in comparison with other countries, media is such a prominent part of daily life, even more so than US citizens. Applications like WeChat have really integrated deeply into quotidian activities such as buying groceries and ordering a taxi.
4. Can you give a typical daily schedule of a program day? What have you explored in your free time?
Typically, we visit one or two media firms a day. Upon arrival, we will usually be given a tour of the premises and then have a chance to have Q&A. We are given free time most evenings and weekends. Apart from exploring tourist attractions, I also really enjoyed exploring different neighbourhoods.
5. As a communications student, what have you learned about the media environment in China? (News, social media, technology usage, etc.)
Chinese media firms, especially newspaper and broadcasting companies, will often hold diverse portfolios in order to make profit. Unlike some large US firms that may be able to survive on just readership and viewership alone, these Chinese firms often cannot generate sufficient funds through content creation alone, and will turn to alternative revenue streams such as gaming and property.
6. Final thoughts: what is your favorite place/experience you’ve been to or had on your trip?
My favorite part of the trip was that we not only were able to learn about Chinese media through these impressive firms, but also to supplement this learning through interactions with Chinese citizens and culture.