Spreading the word: A TV news anchor and his reform and opening-up
Zang Xi, a 37-year-old who has spent 15 years as a local television news anchor, has witnessed changes in Shanghai throughout his career, brought about by China's reform and opening-up.
This year marks the 40th anniversary of the initiative, led by Deng Xiaoping, which sought to achieve national rejuvenation and build a "prosperous and harmonious society." It has done just that, boosting the economy and the sciences, changing people's lifestyles, and influencing various areas of society.
"I was born in 1981, three years after reform and opening-up," Zang said. "When I was young it was the 1980s and early 1990s — a period when Chinese people's living standards were rising, and life was being enriched. It provided me a healthy social environment so that I could thrive."
After his graduation from university the world entered a new millennium, and China underwent major development, he said.
Zang told Shanghai Daily that his entry to the Shanghai Media Group also benefited from the reform.
He remembered that at the beginning of the 21st century, Shanghai's radio and television authority entered structural reform, which united several broadcast and TV stations into one media group.
The new group held a recruitment drive in late 2002 at the Communication University of China, where he was studying, and offered him an internship. After that, Zang became a member.
During his years with SMG, he covered many significant events including the 2010 Shanghai World Expo, China's lunar exploration and manned space flight projects, Tiangong space labs and Shenzhou spacecrafts, the catastrophic Whenchuan and Yushu earthquakes, the 60th anniversary of the victory of China's War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression, and the 80th anniversary of the end of the Long March.
As a TV news anchor he was the one, out of a team of nearly 1,000 people, who revealed facts to the public.
Through this program, he once disclosed some problems existing with local law enforcement handling unlicensed cars, and dissected Shanghai Husi Food Co's expired meat scandal with experts.
The reporting of the World Expo was a very important stage for his personal growth. He visited different sites of the 184-day Shanghai World Expo about a hundred times for his programs, and he created his own feature series 'Night at the World Expo'.
"That not only lifted my professional abilities but also broadened my horizons," he explained. "I saw many things I'd never seen before, and learned some advanced practices from foreign cities and countries."
Meanwhile, in the same year, Zang started covering the field of spaceflight, giving himself an inside look at China's aerospace industry and how it has developed by leaps and bounds. "Now my role on these reports is not just an anchor — I am responsible for the whole program's organization and design."
The entire media industry is being influenced in this trend as well.
He mentioned that in the past, the footage and materials they made and collected could only be played live. But now, with the introduction of ideas like "new media" and "merged media" and new technologies, the media pattern has shifted its focus to a mix of approaches which connect traditional media and modern media.
Besides the TV news, his team also makes short videos, H5 products, text stories and posts for WeChat and Weibo.
Zang is also a public-spirited person and has always cared about those in need. He recalled that one of the motives that drove him to do charity work was his visit to a local "sunshine home," a community health rehabilitation center for the disabled.
"Some people there, though they have mental disabilities, can recall me and the other anchors by name," Zang said. "Their teacher said he felt surprised that these people, who often even fail to remember the names of their family members, could recognized us. For me, that might be the appreciation that our audience gave us. And our work should be worthy of their attention."
He joined an event of Egg Walkathon, a charity walkathon campaign to fundraise for children, in 2015, which required him to walk 50 kilometers.
"When I had walked about 48 kilometers, I felt really exhausted — every muscle ached, and a cough could send pain to my entire body," Zang said. However, at that moment he saw a sign that read: 'The destination you reach with pain today will be the start of a child's hopes and happiness tomorrow.'
"That inspired me, and I hope, through my efforts, some people's lives can be better."
"I'm an anchor. Besides my own efforts, my achievements should never be parted from the acceptance of audience and society," Zang told Shanghai Daily. "So, I think it's necessary for us to pay back."
Another charity program he used to participate in is called "From the Mountains," which aimed to help minority children receive some training in artistic talent in a summer campaign. Unlike the donation of money and commodities, Zang feels such activities can help build up children's confidence. He believes it's important to tell these children that they have their own special things to be proud of and promote, which can also touch urban people.
Zang is now also a political advisor for the city and a volunteer. He said in the future, we should combine personal growth with the city's development and the nation's development, as well as society's progress.