Lu-Hai Liang

thoughts from a freelance foreign correspondent

Archive for March 2016

Goodbye, the Independent. You were good.

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the-independent-gettyOn the 13th of January, I visited the offices of the Independent. I was in London for a week. I met the editors of the foreign section, in person, for the first time. I’d been writing for them in Beijing.

They introduced me to their colleagues, bought me lunch, and kindly explained their daily schedule. I was given a tour of their offices. I even had a sit down meeting with the editor of the Independent, Amol Rajan, with whom I took a selfie.

Thirty days later, the owner of the Independent announced that the newspaper was to close.

These two events are unrelated. But seem to be in a series of events in my career where I felt I had seen a new dawn, that I was on the cusp of something — catching one of those all important “breaks” that you hear about.

Alas, it was just the latest in a line of false dawns. A catalogue of failure.

I’ve written before about how success in journalism can be illusory. How being published in a big newspaper, with your byline, can seem fantastic. But the glory quickly fades. And the financial compensation is paltry.

But you do it anyway.

The closure of a newspaper is always sad news and brings with it dozens of newly unemployed journalists. The Independent is and has been for some time the smallest of the national titles in the UK. But it punched above its weight, carrying big hitter writers and was renowned for its bold and agenda-setting front page splashes.

But you can only look to the future and consider where your next piece might be published.

Written by Lu-Hai Liang

March 16, 2016 at 1:56 pm

Back in Beijing

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I arrived in Beijing last Thursday, 25th February, and have been back for six days.

Right now I am staying on a friend’s couch, while I look for an apartment.

I’ve partied quite a bit since I’ve been back, catching up with friends and meeting new people. It’s been a good welcome back.

I’m also quite poor. I have enough to survive. But surviving in Beijing is a different level of survival, compared to say Paris or London. But I am worried about a few things: whether I’ll have enough cash to pay for apartment rents in advance plus the deposit and all that malarkey; whether I can make more money.

On Monday, I had an interview at a PR firm. I already have a freelance contract with said PR firm but I went to their office to discuss full-time work. I do not even like mentioning the letters “PR” on this blog, but in the interests of honesty I do so.

I mainly edit their copy, for this firm. It pays okay and still gives me plenty of time to freelance for journalism.

I haven’t done any more work on my novel since I’ve been back. But I’ve been trying to think about it and will, I hope, write more chapters soon.

This year I will try to move more into writing, rather than journalism. I’ll elaborate on that in another blog post.

I’ve had two good conversations since I’ve been back in Beijing: one with a young American girl and one with an older young Chinese girl.

It made me think about the promises and problems that arise from the idea of youth. How the promise lies in possibility and optimism and potential which gives youth that irresistible charge.The problem of youth comes from the feeling that you might be wasting it. 

I won’t get all philosophical. Although I’m fairly clear about what it might mean. But I’m just living day by day right now, starting to send out pitches and trying to reestablish myself in the city. This city which I’ve come to know as a second home.

Written by Lu-Hai Liang

March 2, 2016 at 6:25 am

Posted in Features