Gain a global perspective as you improve your journalism skills with the USA Summer Journalism Training Program

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The Global Business Journalism Program is already one of the most prestigious business journalism master’s degree programs in the world. The partnership between the U.S.-based International Center for Journalists and Tsinghua University has produced more than 400 graduates from China and around the globe who are bringing advanced technological skills and business reporting expertise to news sites around the world.

This summer, GBJ’s co-director, Rick Dunham, a veteran of 29 years in Washington journalism, will launch a new initiative, the USA Summer Journalism Training Program in Washington, designed to train aspiring journalists from around the world in global best practices. The two-week program is scheduled to run from July 24 to August 4. Sessions will be held at the International Center for Journalists and other venues in Washington.

The USA Summer Journalism Training Program includes more than a dozen training sessions and workshops, hands-on reporting exercises, and tours of news organizations, as well as Washington-area sightseeing and special social activities. Guest speakers will include prominent Washington journalists, academics and policymakers.

The program is open to all university students and 2017 graduates. Thanks to a generous contribution from a supporter of the program, Tsinghua School of Journalism and Communication students will receive a $500 scholarship to defray a portion of the program fee. Tsinghua students who also participate in the City University of New York Summer Intensive Program in July will receive a $750 scholarship.

To guarantee personal attention, the program is limited to 25 participants.

Professor Dunham is a former White House correspondent for Business Week magazine, editor of the magazine’s Washington Outlook page, Washington bureau chief of the Houston Chronicle and Hearst Newspapers, creator of the Texas on the Potomac blog, 2005 president of the National Press Club, and creator of RickDunhamBlog.com. He is a visiting professor at Tsinghua University, where he teaches multimedia reporting, data journalism storytelling, English news writing and U.S. media culture.

The deadline for applications is May 31. Click here for the program application.

If you have questions, please contact USA Summer Journalism Training Program at SummerProgramDC@gmail.com. You can reach teaching assistant Li Chengzhang at licz15@mails.tsinghua.edu.cn,  (Note: Tsinghua University is not involved in this program, its curriculum or management.)

Here is additional information on the program, in English and Chinese:

项目时间:2017年7月(注:项目时间与CUNY暑期项目不冲突)

项目时长:两周

地点:美国,华盛顿DC,美国记者俱乐部

结业证书:由美国记者协会(ICFJ)颁发

招收对象:在校大学生

Time:July 24-August 4, 2017 (Note: The timing of this program is designed to encourage students to also participate in the Summer Intensive Program at the City University of New York.)

Period: Two weeks

Place: USA, Washington, D.C., The International Center for Journalists and other locations

Completed certificate: From ICFJ, the leading training organization for journalists around the world

Eligibility: Participants must be university students or 2017 graduates

  • 夏令营项目形式:

业界导师授课、嘉宾讲座、研讨会、参观游览及娱乐活动

  • Program contents: Journalism training sessions and workshops, hands-on reporting exercises, tours of news organizations, Washington-area sightseeing, social activities
  • 课程内容:

多媒体全方位新闻技能培训

包括:采访技巧、如何讲好新闻故事、突发新闻报道、国际新闻报道、多媒体新闻报道、财经新闻写作技巧、华盛顿邮报案例研究、新闻从业者入行需知等版块

  • Journalism training courses

Program contents: Multimedia storytelling, advanced reporting, writing and editing seminars, interview tips, sharpening your business and economic journalism skills, tips for foreign correspondents and data journalism skills training

  • 讲座和研讨会内容:

资深记者分享新闻报道和从业经验,并与行业专家及政府议员探讨全球公共政策问题。

包括:移民问题、贸易问题、能源问题、双边关系、经济与政治相互作用关系等议题。

  • Lectures, sessions and workshops

Program contents: Hear from prominent journalists, academics, think tank representatives and policymakers. Training in journalism skills and policy issues important to a global audience

实践内容:

个人采访作业、小组采访作业

包括:新闻稿件、新闻图片、新闻音频和视频等。同学们通过街头采访的实践机会深入了解和体验美国。

  • Practice:

Individual journalism assignments, group journalism assignments

Program contents: You will work with veteran American journalists to improve your news article writing, news photography, video and audio skills. Students will get to know America and American life better via interviewing local people and policymakers by themselves.

  • 参观游览活动:

(1)参观媒体机构

包括:美国记者俱乐部、美国新闻博物馆、华盛顿邮报报社、彭博新闻社等。

(2)参观历史遗迹

包括:美国国会大厦、林肯纪念堂、杰斐逊纪念堂、马丁·路德·金纪念碑、华盛顿故居、林肯故居、二战纪念碑、朝鲜战争和越南战争纪念碑等。

(注:以上参观游览目的地为可选范围,具体参观游览路线将会视同学们的兴趣而定。负责该项目的美国教授和助教将会带领大家一起出行集体参观游览。)

  • Sightseeing

(1) Media organizations

Planned tours include the National Press Club and the Newseum. Additional visits may include the Washington Post, Bloomberg News and Politico

(2) Historical sites

Visits to selected historical sites including the Lincoln Memorial, the Jefferson Memorial, the Martin Luther King Memorial, the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial, the Albert Einstein Statue, the World War II Memorial, the Korean War Memorial and the Vietnam War Memorial.

(Note: Students can select their preferred sightseeing destinations from above options, specific tour routes will depend on the students’ interests. Our professor and teaching assistant will lead the collective tour.)

  • 娱乐活动:

由Rick Dunham教授主持举办“Texas barbecue”野餐会

在美国记者俱乐部举办周五“Taco Night”活动

  • Social activities

Opening “Texas barbecue” cookout hosted by Professor Rick Dunham in Arlington, Virginia

Friday “Taco Night” reception at the National Press Club

Special event with National Press Club Young Members

Happy Hour with Asian American Journalists Association DC Chapter members

  • 师资力量:
  • Possible guest speakers:

Rick Dunham:清华大学全球财经新闻联合主任、美国记者俱乐部培训学院院长、《商业周刊》原驻白宫记者

Alex Nowrasteh: 美国卡托研究所经济学家

Al Weaver:《华盛顿审察者报》驻白宫记者

Cheryl Arvidson:前《达拉斯时代先驱报》总编辑

Cragg Hines:前《休斯顿纪事报》华盛顿分社总编辑、专栏作家

Emily Holden:E&E新闻机构记者

Doris Truong:《华盛顿邮报》记者

Doug Wong:《华盛顿邮报》记者

Gilbert Klein:美国大学新闻教授、前美国记者俱乐部主席

Doug Harbrecht:Kiplinger.com数字媒体总监

Angela Greiling Keane:《政客》编辑

Alan Bjerga:彭博新闻社农业报道记者、乔治城大学新闻教授

Jonathan Salant: 北新泽西州报纸驻华盛顿记者

Maria Recio: Washington journalist and former correspondent for Business Week, Knight Ridder Newspapers and McClatchy Newspapers

Mark Hamrick: Bankrate.com Washington bureau chief and former National Press Club president

Emily Wilkins: Education reporter, Roll Call

 

  • 费用:

项目费:1500美元

住宿费:600-750美元(由项目方提供统一住宿)

  • Estimated costs:

Fees   $1,500*

Housing (estimated, double occupancy)  $600-$750

Note: Global Business Journalism students and other Tsinghua School of Journalism and Communication students are eligible for a scholarship to cover $500 of the costs, making their final fee $1,000.

Note: GBJ and other TSJC students who also enroll in the City University of New York Summer Intensive program are eligible for a scholarship to cover $750 of their costs, making their final fee $750.

Note: Visa fee, transportation, travel, meals, insurance are not included.

Note: Housing will be available from Sunday, July 23, to Saturday, August 5.

A completed application does not guarantee acceptance. To guarantee personal attention, the program will have a maximum of 25 participants. Admission is at the discretion of program organizers.

>>> Application form for the USA Summer Journalism Training Program

>>> Questions? Contact the USA Summer Journalism Training Program by email

>>> More information on CUNY Summer Intensive program

>>> Learn more about the Global Business Journalism Program at Tsinghua University

 


Application for the USA Summer Journalism Training Program

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Thank you for your interest in the USA Summer Journalism Training Program, organized by Rick Dunham, a veteran of 29 years of Washington journalism experience and co-director of the International Center for Journalists’ Global Business Journalism Program. The two-week program is scheduled to be held in Washington, D.C., from July 24 to August 4, 2017, and is open to university students and recent graduates from China and around the world.

The application form is included in this post. Please copy-and-paste the form and send it via email to the USA Summer Journalism Training Program at SummerProgramDC@gmail.com. You can reach teaching assistant Li Chengzhang at licz15@mails.tsinghua.edu.cn.

  •  Application deadline: May 31

海外学习短期项目

美国新闻报道夏令营项目申请表

Application form

姓名 Name 国籍 Nationality
生源地 Birthplace
本/硕/博 Bachelor’s/Master’s/Ph.D. 出生年月 Date of birth
在读学校 University 专业 Major
联系电话 Phone number 邮箱 Email
是否定向/委培 外语水平(种类及成绩) English language certificate
拟毕业时间 When will you (did you) graduate from your university program?
申请理由:

Please explain the reason why you want to apply to this program:

注:请将报名表、个人简历、学生证、外语水平证书的电子版发送至助教邮箱。如有任何疑问,欢迎随时联系助教。邮箱:SummerProgramDC@gmail.com or licz15@mails.tsinghua.edu.cn 电话:+86 13426000951 或 +1(312)468-3257

Note: Please send your application form, CV, English language certificate copy and a photo of your student ID card to SummerProgramDC@gmail.com. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Teaching Assistant Li Chengzhang at licz15@mails.tsinghua.edu.cn. By telephone: +86 13426000951, +1 (312) 468-3257.

  • 费用:

项目费:1500美元

住宿费:600-750美元(由项目方提供统一住宿)

  • Estimated costs:

Fees   $1,500*

Housing (estimated, double occupancy)  $600-$750

Note: Global Business Journalism students and Tsinghua School of Journalism and Communication students are eligible for a scholarship to cover $500 of the costs, making their final fee $1,000.

Note: GBJ and TSJC students who also enroll in the City University of New York Summer Intensive program are eligible for a scholarship to cover $750 of their costs, making their final fee $750.

Note: Visa fee, transportation, travel, meals, insurance are not included.

Note: Housing will be available from Sunday, July 23, to Saturday, August 5.

A completed application does not guarantee acceptance. To guarantee personal attention, the program will have a maximum of 25 participants. Admission is at the discretion of program organizers.

>>> More information on the Global Business Journalism Program

>> More information on the USA Summer Journalism Training Program

>>> Questions? Contact the USA Summer Journalism Training Program by email

>>> More information on CUNY Summer Intensive program


Remembering Ken Reigner: A life of passion for politics, words and friends

Last Saturday, my good friend Ken Reigner died just a few hours before we were scheduled to meet for dinner. Ken was one of the first people Pamela Tobey and I met when we moved to Washington in 1984 and he was part of many of our important life events, including our wedding, family holiday gatherings and even Adirondack vacations at the Dunham family compound. Here is my tribute to Ken’s life, written with the indispensable reporting of Michael Gessel and John McDiarmid.

In the fall of 1983, Ken Reigner was shocked to learn that NBC News had canceled one of his favorite programs, the critically acclaimed but ratings-challenged NBC News Overnight.

“It was just as if someone had shot me through with electricity,” the red-haired Michigander with insatiable energy and righteous passion told The New Yorker in December 1983. “I was dumbfounded. After that, it was like being in an accident. A couple of minutes went by before I knew where I was.”

Ken Reigner at the 2000 Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles.

Ken Reigner at the 2000 Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles.

But while most people would have accepted the program’s fate with disappointment and sorrow, Reigner, already a veteran of four presidential campaigns, decided to fight back.

“Somebody had to start up a movement to save the show,” he decided.

In the days before the Internet, email and social media, Reigner led a crusade to save NBC News Overnight. He led a candle-light vigil in front of NBC’s Washington studios, shared his outrage by calling in to Larry King’s nationwide radio show, organized a letter-writing campaign to NBC Chairman Grant Tinker and even demonstrated his support by distributing campaign-style buttons to members of the show’s audience one night.

“We noticed yellow ‘Save NBC News Overnight’ buttons on an increasing number of chests as the night wore on,” James Lardner wrote later in The New Yorker, “and we traced them to a tote bag carried by a bright-faced man named Kenneth Reigner.”

That bright-faced man, who led a number of crusades during more than four decades as a political campaigner, congressional staffer, writer and editor, died in his sleep at his home in Greenbelt, Md., on Aug. 8. He was 66.

“Crusading was what Ken was best at and enjoyed most — crusading for political candidates in campaigns, crusading for NBC News Overnight, crusading to save Washington Independent Writers,” said John F. McDiarmid, his partner of 16 years and Professor Emeritus of British and American Literature
at New College of Florida. “He could build up tremendous energy and zeal for crusading.”

Described by friends as “naturally enthusiastic,’ Mr. Reigner was accomplished in both the political sphere and the world of Washington writers. He was a former congressional press secretary, presidential campaign radio specialist and Democratic National Convention media operations fixture. He also was the founder and owner of CompuMedia Business Services, a two-term president of Washington Independent Writers, a freelance radio producer for several segments aired on National Public Radio and a tireless advocate for health-care and social safety net services for freelance writers facing tough economic times. One of his proudest “achievements” was earning a spot on one of President Richard M. Nixon’s infamous “enemies lists” along with fellow staffers and contributors to 1972 Democratic presidential candidate George McGovern.

“A remarkable person,” said Kathleen Hall Jamieson, a prominent American author, communications professor and director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania who was a friend of Mr. Reigner’s for three decades after teaching him at the University of Maryland. “A sad loss.”

Paul Dickson, the author of more than 50 non-fiction books, called Mr. Reigner “a wonderful friend and a great person to work with when the going got tough. Watching him in action was to see a man of true determination working with the aid of a great smile and a deep sense of civility.”

Among Mr. Reigner’s ancestors was John Morton of Pennsylvania, a signer of the Declaration of Independence whose decision on July 1, 1776, to side with Benjamin Franklin against fellow Pennsylvanian John Dickinson cleared the way for final approval of independence. Two centuries later, Morton’s descendant entered the American political arena with the active encouragement of his family. Mr. Reigner always credited his mother Ann with instilling in him a keen interest in current events, politics and public service.

“I distinctly remember sitting with my mother when I was only three years old watching the 1952 Democratic and Republican National Conventions on television,” he recalled in 2004. “The message from my mother was loud and clear: this was important stuff that affected real people’s lives and I had better pay attention and learn about it.”

After decades of working on presidential campaigns, Mr. Reigner in 2000 helped his mother fulfill her lifelong ambition to attend a national convention by securing credentials for her to attend the Democratic convention in Los Angeles and hear the acceptance speech of party nominee Al Gore.

In a Washington culture often driven by ego and dominated by a lust for power, Mr. Reigner’s passion for life and his compassion for others made him an icon to many.

“Ken made life nicer for everyone he met,” said former National Press Club president Doug Harbrecht.

Mr. Reigner was born in Detroit, Mich., on May 20, 1949, to Mollie Ann Pocock Reigner and Hal Morton Reigner, a Ford Company engineer. He grew up in Battle Creek and Farmington, Mich., as the only son in a family with three sisters. As a boy, he was in a Battle Creek Cub Scout troop led by his mother. He once contemplated a life in the clergy and graduated from Sacred Heart Seminary in Detroit in 1967.

Educated at Wayne State University and later the University of Maryland at College Park, he worked for four years as a retail sales manager at the J.L. Hudson Company in Detroit before moving to Washington in 1972 to pursue his passion for politics.

He worked in five presidential campaigns, starting as a volunteer for anti-war Democrat Eugene McCarthy in 1968 and ending as a volunteer for anti-war Democrat Howard Dean in 2004. He was employed as a radio press assistant three times: for 1972 Democratic presidential nominee George McGovern, 1976 nominee Jimmy Carter, and Carter’s 1980 Democratic challenger, Ted Kennedy.

In the days before digital broadcasting, Mr. Reigner was a master of the radio actuality, a short recording of a presidential candidate’s speeches, press conferences or interviews that Mr. Reigner taped, edited and then trained an army of volunteers to transmit by telephone to more than 2,000 radio stations and broadcast networks across the United States for use in their news programming. He produced audio commercials for the Democratic presidential candidates and assisted with distribution of video spots. During his decade of presidential politics, he estimated that he recruited, trained and supervised about 500 volunteers and staffers.

“I knew no one in the campaign more exacting, dedicated and passionate about his work than Ken,” Carter Radio Director Robert W. Maynes said.

Mr. Reigner was a seasoned spokesman for Democrats on Capitol Hill, serving as press secretary to Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Warren G. Magnuson of Washington and Representatives Bob Matsui of California, John Burton of California, Mickey Leland of Texas and Mike Barnes of Maryland. He was employed as radio press assistant for Brendan Byrne’s 1973 campaign for governor of New Jersey. He also worked as Director of Public Information for the National Credit Union Administration and Communications Director at the Center for Environmental Education.

The devoted Democrat worked with the media at every Democratic national convention from 1976 to 2012, the last seven times as one of the managers in the convention’s office handling printing and distributing of advance speech texts, schedules and news advisories to the thousands of members of the press corps covering the convention.

“Ken loved politics,” said John McDiarmid. “He was passionately and intelligently committed to liberal political causes.”

The Nixon

The Nixon “Enemies List” through the pen of legendary Los Angeles Times political cartoonist Paul Conrad.

Mr. Reigner’s top political heroes were South Dakota Senator George McGovern and Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy, both unsuccessful presidential candidates. He considered Richard M. Nixon the nation’s worst president—and earned a spot on one of of Nixon’s enemies lists.

“Not the first-string list, he would modestly point out, but the longer list that he got on by working for the McGovern campaign,” added Mr. McDiarmid.

Although he made rather a bad enemy of the president known to many as Tricky Dick, Mr. Reigner also had friends in high places. Among those who agreed to serve as job references for him were Vice President Walter Mondale and National Transportation Safety Board Chairman James B. King.

In 1986 Mr. Reigner founded his own writing and editing business, which he operated in suburban Maryland until his death. Over three decades, he edited hundreds of books, articles, academic papers, theses and dissertations, and wrote countless résumés.

“He was passionate about the use of the English language,” said Mr. McDiarmid. “He was knowledgeable and judicious about grammar and style, a hard-working, meticulous editor.”

Mr. Reigner was active in the independent writers movement in the national capital region, working to strengthen networking among freelance writers and editors and to help writers who faced financial or medical crises. He joined the Board of Directors of Washington Independent Writers (WIW), then the largest regional writers’ organization in the United States, in 1997. (WIW was renamed American Independent Writers in 2008, then dissolved 2011.)

When first elected to the WIW board of directors, he was named chairman of the WIW Technology Committee. In that position, he organized annual technology conferences at Washington’s University Club. He chaired technology panels at WIW’s annual Spring Writers Conference at the National Press Club and George Washington University.

Mr. Reigner received the Philip M. Stern Award, WIW’s highest honor, in 2000 “for his exceptional service in bringing WIW into the Electronic Age.” The award is named for the investigative journalist, author, early benefactor and founder of WIW.

A year later, in response to a move to dismantle the WIW main office, he ran for WIW president at the head of a “Save WIW” slate including well-known writers Paul Dickson, Beryl Benderly and others. Swept into office in a landslide, Mr. Reigner served two terms before retiring in 2003.

“For hundreds and hundreds of us, WIW was pivotal to building our careers, and Ken, by leading the ‘Save WIW’ ticket to resounding victory over a board that wanted to dismantle the downtown office, allowed it to continue prospering for an additional decade,” said Ms. Benderly.

As WIW president, Mr. Reigner worked with leaders of other writers’ groups and journalism organizations, particularly future National Press Club President Rick Dunham, to offer first-rate training programs for Washington area writers that focused on technology skills and job opportunities.

Ms. Benderly recalls—“vividly”—meeting Mr. Reigner at the National Press Club on a Friday night in April as dissatisfaction with the incumbent WIW board festered.

“The question arose of who would lead the campaign and take on the onerous and time-consuming role of the president who would have to rebuild the shattered organization,” she recalled. “We were all freelancers, so time was very important to us. Nobody came forward to do that.

“Eventually, Ken stepped forward to take on the burden. I don’t think that most people in the crowd knew him. I know that I didn’t. He was younger than most of us and hadn’t been that active. But that didn’t matter, because he seemed sincere in his outrage and his affection for [former staff director] Isolde [Chapin] and, mainly, he was willing to do it. So the ‘Save WIW’ slate was born that night.”

As a candidate, Mr. Reigner brought his organizational and messaging skills to a much smaller electorate.

“To the shock of our adversaries, who had absolutely no idea what was afoot, we put the plan into effect, completely blindsiding them,” said Ms. Benderly. “Ken, of course, knew what to do and relished the fight, as did we all. We raised money among ourselves to send a letter (by mail) to every member–about 1,500 as I recall. And we divided up the telephone directory—literally gave out pages to different people — and together our group and our supporters personally phoned every member to ask for their vote.

“When the votes were counted, we utterly crushed them, electing our entire slate by huge margins.”

George Bailey's in trouble. With WIW, like Frank Capra's It's a Wonderful Life, the good guys won in the end.

George Bailey’s in trouble. With WIW, like Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life, the good guys won in the end.

Ms. Benderly calls the “Save WIW” campaign her “Frank Capra moment,” like the scene from It’s a Wonderful Life in which the community unites to the cry of “George Bailey’s in trouble?”

“I keenly feel the loss of my partner in those glorious days of doing the right thing for our fellow writers simply because it was the right thing,” said Ms. Benderly. “Ken had such a big heart and because of it played an absolutely crucial role in WIW at an absolutely crucial time.”

As passionate as he was about politics, Mr. Reigner was equally passionate about words and music. His favorite entertainers—David Letterman, Jon Stewart and Garrison Keillor—were masters of intelligent conversation and piercing wit. His favorite authors—including the historians David McCullough and Doris Kearns Goodwin and the journalist and biographer David Maraniss—are masterful storytellers with an eye for detail.

His musical tastes ran the gamut from Rosemary Clooney to Janis Joplin. He loved theater and was a volunteer with the Ushers group in the Washington area. He also was proud to be a member of MENSA. For years, his Maryland license plate was “HIGH IQ.”

Always on the cutting edge of technology, Mr. Reigner was among the first Washingtonians to have a car phone, a cell phone, a personal computer, an email address and an Internet access account. But his first love was always radios.

“He was interested in computers but loved radio technology,” said Mr. McDiarmid. “He was the first person I have ever traveled with who pointed out different kinds of radio towers we passed. I gave him a radio towers calendar one year.”

Mr. Reigner died of natural causes on the 41st anniversary of Richard Nixon’s resignation speech. A year earlier, he and longtime friend Rick Dunham had toasted the 40th anniversary of Nixon’s disgrace.

Mr. Reigner is survived by Mr. McDiarmid, a resident of Falls Church, Va., and three sisters, Judith A. Crowe of York, Pa; Susan M. Justice of Seal Beach, Calif., and Beth Reigner of Garden City, Kan.

A memorial service is planned for later this year.

His ashes are likely to be interred alongside his parents in the suburbs of Detroit, a city he loved faithfully even after it hit hard times.

In lieu of flowers, Mr. Reigner’s family asks friends to consider donations to two organizations that provide financial support to freelance writers in financial crisis: the Author’s League Fund and the American Society of Journalists and Authors’ Writers Emergency Assistance Fund.

American Society of Journalists and Authors, Writers Emergency Assistance Fund

Donate online at http://www.asja.org/for-writers/weaf/weaf-donations.php or mail a check made out to the ASJA Charitable Trust to:

Writers Emergency Assistance Fund

IN CARE OF ASJA:

355 Lexington Ave, 15th Floor

New York, NY 10017-6603

or

The Authors League Fund

Donate online at http://www.authorsleaguefund.org/donate/ or make checks out to The Authors League Fund and mail to its office:

Attn: Isabel Howe, Executive Director

The Authors League Fund

31 East 32nd Street, 7th Floor

New York, NY 10016

– 30 –


Ten things I really miss living in China — and ten I definitely do not

Birthday barbecue: Plates of tasty food at Home Plate BBQ in Beijing (with Troy Hernandez, Agnes Kreitz, Sara Balajthy, Caroline Ward and Mengfei Chen)

Birthday barbecue: Plates of tasty food and chocolate cake at Home Plate BBQ in Beijing (with Troy Hernandez, Agnes Kneitz, Sara Balajthy, Caroline Ward and Mengfei Chen)

It’s been nearly three months since I arrived in Beijing, and I’ve finally had my first attack of homesickness.

It started two weeks ago with a trip to a local Western market to pick up the fixings for macaroni and cheese (the real thing, not the Kraft version). It was followed by my birthday dinner of Texas BBQ and chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting. Then I broke down completely yesterday and went to Jenny Loo’s supermarket with my friend Eunice. My haul — a rare taste of Americana — included fresh bagels (“Montreal style”), feta cheese, olives, canned diced tomatoes for pasta sauce, fresh tortillas, tortillas chips, salsa, peanut butter and a Woody Allen movie.

A pretty pricey splurge, all told, except for the Woody Allen movie (“Midnight in Paris”), which cost 13 yuan, or $2.16.

I’m whipping up my famous linguini tonight with some of my big food purchase. But before I do, here’s a quick list of ten things I really miss after 11 weeks in China — and some that I decidedly do not.

What I miss:

1. My wife and family

2. The National Press Club

3. Live NHL hockey

4. Hummus

5. My good friends back home

6. Weekend trips to Philadelphia or New York

7. Trader Joe’s

8. Gossiping with my Texas political sources

9. Good wine at good prices

10. Target

What I Don’t Miss:

1. CNN

2. American cable news in general

3. The newspaper world I left behind

4. Cable TV

5. Congress

6. Driving

7. Texas BBQ (I’ve been surprised by the fine barbecue here.)

8. The Washington football team with the racist name

9. Rush Limbaugh and the vast right wing conspiracy

10. U.S. media coverage of the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination


Top ten losers — and a few winners — in the DC debt ceiling debacle

We're THIS close to a solution, folks.

We’re THIS close to a solution, folks.

As the newest American political analyst on Chinese national television, I’ve been asked to explain the U.S. government shutdown and default showdown.

It’s not easy.

How do you explain the farce that Washington has become? Lawmakers shutting down the government because of an issue not directly related to spending. Hostage-taking is for terrorists, not for Republicans.

International observers are even more baffled by the brinkmanship over the debt ceiling. Why, I am asked over and over, would congressional Republicans threaten the full faith and credit of the United States, risk a relapse into recession and jeopardize a very tenuous economic recovery around the world? Why would they, through their illogical enterprise, encourage other nations to replace the dollar as the global reserve currency, which will do nothing but create inflation at home, make borrowing more expensive for the American government and American consumers, and stifle foreign investment in the United States? And why is President Barack Obama incapable of rescuing the nation from the tar pit of Capitol Hill.

It’s a lose-lose proposition.

Are there any winners in the Washington wackiness? Not really, though there are some short-term gainers. Here’s my long list of losers and short list of winners in the continuing congressional catastrophe.

John Boehner

The House Speaker looks like a hostage being forced to read a script by his radical captors. He looks weary. He looks very, very sad.

Barack Obama

He looks weak.

House Republicans

They look extreme. Actually, they look beyond extreme. And incompetent.

The Tea Party

Did we mention extreme? The current situation is reminiscent of the Vietnam War-era saying, “We had to destroy the village in order to save it.”

Senate Republicans

They look weak, too, as the Tea Party tail continues to wag the Republican dog.

The Republican Party

The Grand Old Party is lurching toward the political cliff in the 2014 midterm elections. Its best asset: gerrymandered House districts. Its best ally: discombobulated Democrats.

Joe Biden

Who? Nonexistent.

The United States.

Forget partisan politics. Congress has made the U.S. an international laughingstock. The double showdown has led to grave global doubts about the reliability of the United States and the leadership skill (and power) of its president. So this will hurt the country for a long, long time and its president — whoever that may be, Democrat or Republican.

The U.S. economy

In the short run, thousands of Americans are without paychecks, tourism revenue has plunged and consumer confidence has taken a hit. Businesses have another reason to hold off on hiring. In the long run, interest rates will be higher and loans will be even harder to obtain for individual Americans and corporations alike. And they call Republicans the pro-growth party?

The global economy

The self-induced crisis in Washington has shaken global confidence in the United States If American lawmakers blunder into a default (still unimaginable from my distant vantage point), it would almost certain trigger an international recession as China, Japan, Brazil, the EU and other leading U.S. creditors take a massive hit. The consequences would be so severe that it’s not even worth contemplating.

The U.S. Congress wouldn’t do something so wantonly self-destructive, would they?

Would they?

Remember Smoot-Hawley? Call this modern-day version Cruz-Boehner.

“Winners”

Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell

There really are no winners in Washington, but the closest thing to it are the Senate leaders. Instead of acting like squabbling partisans, they are playing the role of sober cops coming to restore order after a frat party has descended into anarchy and drunken debauchery. Officers Reid and McConnell, your country needs you. Now.

Ted Cruz

In the short term, the freshman senator from Texas has become the hero of the ultraright, the face of Fox News, the Earl Grey of the Tea Party. In the long run, he will have to overcome the first impression of two-thirds of Americans (who know who he is) that he is a right-wing ideologue. Polls show that he’s poison among independent and swing voters outside of the Lone Star State.

House Democrats

They are only winners because House Republicans look so, so bad. The Dems haven’t won any awards for profiles in courage or bipartisan bridge building. Except another Bridge to Nowhere.

C-SPAN

Ratings are way, way up at the nation’s favorite cable channel for nerds and policy wonks. Heck, it’s the most bizarre reality show on television. And, unlike the Kardashians, it has real-world consequences.

China

The government in Beijing has won in two ways (so far). First, President Obama canceled his Asia trip, allowing first-year Chinese President Xi to be the star of the show at APEC. And China-bashing Washington Republicans have succeeded in making Beijing the victim of irresponsible fiscal policies in free-enterprise America that could lead to default. A bizarre lesson in capitalism.


My take on the dysfunction in DC

I’m still getting used to be the interviewee and not the interviewer. Here’s a recent Q&A with me conducted by Katie Perkowski, a super-talented former Texas on the Potomac intern who now works and lives in Bratislava.

Katie’s piece first appeared in WBP Online.

—–

Behind Capitol Hill: Q&A with long-time Washington watchdog

Rick Dunham has had eyes and ears on Capitol Hill and in the White House for three decades, giving him a unique view into US politics. In an interview with WBP Online, the former Washington bureau chief for the Houston Chronicle explains how dramatic political party transformations have led to the dysfunction in Congress we are seeing today.

Ted Cruz (Texas Tribune photo)

Ted Cruz (Texas Tribune photo)

By Katie Perkowski
WBP Online

Few people understand the inner workings of US politics quite as well as Rick Dunham, who covered the White House and Capitol Hill for three decades, during which time he served as Washington bureau chief for the Houston Chronicle, White House correspondent for BusinessWeek and board president of the National Press Club.

In a Q&A with WBP Online, Dunham explained the dramatic transformations of the two main political parties, Republicans and Democrats, that he saw during his time in Washington, and why those shifts have led to an ever-dived Congress seemingly incapable of getting anything done. The latest evidence of that now all-too-familiar phenomenon? The federal government’s shutdown, now on day four with no sign of stopping.

Here’s what Dunham had to say:

Q: Can you describe the shift in dynamic you noticed in both the Republican and Democrat parties during your time in Washington? What do you think brought about this change in the way things get done (or don’t)?

There has been a tremendous shift, both culturally and politically, over my three decades in Washington.

One is ideological. Both parties’ representatives were far more diverse in the past. Democrats ranged from far left to far right. Republicans ranged from liberal to very conservative. Now there are no liberals and very few moderates left among Republican lawmakers. And there are very few Democrats remaining who are right of the political center. The party is pretty well split between far left, left and center. Republicans are pretty well divided between right and far right, with a tiny group of centrists. The key Republican division is establishment and insurgent. The establishment Republicans still are in the majority but the radical right Republicans control the agenda through mastery of tactics and willingness to “do the unthinkable.”

Culturally, there has been an even bigger shift. When I arrived in Washington in 1984, Congress was controlled by “doers” and not “talkers.” The goal of lawmakers was to make laws. Legislators used to legislate. Now, the vast majority on both sides of the aisle want to posture and play to their ideological core rather than to get things done.

The great lawmakers I have covered were often very liberal or conservative – Ted Kennedy was hard left and Bob Dole was very conservative – but they believed in moving things forward for their country in the end. There are almost none of those left now, and certainly not enough to get things done.

Q: Covering Texas, you followed Ted Cruz in his rise from solicitor general to senator. What kind of change within the Republican party does Cruz represent? There have been numerous reports out about how senior members of his party, like McCain and Graham are not happy with the way he’s doing things. Do you think there could be a party split among Republicans in the near future? What is the Tea Party’s role in all of this?

The key figures representing the three strands of the Republican future are Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Rand Paul. All are ultraconservative but only Rubio among them is pragmatic and willing to cut deals. The other two are ideological purists who would rather lose than compromise. Rand Paul is the leader of the libertarian wing of the Republican Party. He is anti-government. Period. Ted Cruz is an ultraconservative in the mold of the 1964 version of Barry Goldwater, who believed that extremism in the defense of liberty (as he saw it) is no vice. Cruz is against government unless government will help him accomplish his ideological ends. He also is against (almost) anything Barack Obama is for. I call him the leader of the nihilist strain of the modern Republican Party.

That’s why old-fashioned conservatives like John McCain and Lindsey Graham don’t like him. They are very conservative – I don’t buy into the revisionist view of McCain and Graham as moderate because they are willing to cut deals and occasionally act like mavericks.

McCain took an instant dislike to Cruz because Cruz has such an authentic dislike for the institution. McCain respects the institution. Cruz despises it. They are both strong personalities, so it is natural that they will clash. Neither of them is phony. They genuinely dislike each other.

McCain and other Republican leaders believe that Cruz is leading the party on a political suicide mission. They believe he is hoping to burn down the village and then claim to be king of the ashes.

Cruz represents the socially conservative strand of Tea Party Republicanism. Rand Paul represents the pure libertarian strand of Tea Party Republicanism. Both are ideologically pure and strongly “pro-liberty” but both philosophies are distinct and different. They have a slightly different definition of what liberty means.

Q: What kind of precedent do you think it would set if Republicans hold to their current stance and hold the debt ceiling “hostage” as some are calling it in an effort to repeal or delay a law that’s already been passed? Could that lead to similar actions by Congress in the future, or even “revenge” acts of a similar manner by Democrats?

I don’t think it will lead to a “tit for tat” reaction from Democrats in the future. Democrats never held the government or the country hostage during George W. Bush’s administration. I’ve always said that the Democrats’ big problem is that they are too “responsible.” I’m not talking about being ideologically moderate. I mean that they won’t take extreme measures in order to prevail.

Filibusters are another matter. Both sides are irresponsible and hypocritical when it comes to filibusters. That’s another big change in the Washington culture. But that’s another story.

In some ways, Democrats are to blame for all of this. It started with the defeat of Robert Bork, who was very qualified for the Supreme Court (in terms of legal qualifications) but was defeated for ideological reasons, because he was out of the judicial mainstream. That has led to the political equivalent of an arms race where each side is willing to become more and more virulent in order to make political points. It’s gotten to the point that Republicans will block Democratic nominations just because the nominees exist, not even for reasons of ideology or the nominee’s personal issues. That is utterly irresponsible and, I am sorry to say, bipartisan.

Q: Do you think the current party structure in Washington can survive, or should it be changed to prevent the type of mess we’re seeing now?

I see the party structure surviving because that is the history of American representative democracy. We have always had two main parties. The two parties have not always been Republican and Democrat. Since we entered the R/D era, the two parties have changed radically. Now, just about anyone who would have been a Republican at the time of slavery and the Civil War is a Democrat, and anybody who would have been a Democrat at that time is a Republican. The two parties have reversed regional bases. One of the only common threads is that immigrants still tend to be Democrats.

I see the Democratic Party becoming more “moderate” in coming years as more disgruntled former Republicans and moderate young people join the party. I see the Republican Party finally having a showdown between the establishment right and the hard right. It probably will take the nomination of a far-right Republican for president and an overwhelming defeat for the party to move back toward the center. The last two nominees, John McCain and Mitt Romney, were not purists. Indeed, Ronald Reagan is the last hard-core conservative to be a presidential nominee. And Reagan would be considered a pragmatic moderate by today’s standards.

One last thought: If the Republicans are to have a future at the presidential level, they cannot afford to continue to lose immigrants, minorities and young voters. Those three blocs are the future. Republicans not only need to maintain their current levels of support, they need to increase them. A similar fate befell Democrats during the 1980s as Ronald Reagan cut into the blue-collar Democratic base, young voters went Republican and old New Deal Democrats died off rapidly. Democrats won just once in 24 years before Bill Clinton started to redefine the Democratic Party with his “New Democrat” movement. We’re at a similar point in reverse now. But I suspect we’ll need a disaster like the Democrats faced in 1980-1984-1988 to convince Republicans to rethink Cruz-ism.

Dunham is now based in Beijing, where he is a professor of multimedia journalism and co-director of the Global Business Journalism program at Tsinghua University. You can follow him at https://rickdunhamblog.com/.

To contact the author of this story, e-mail katherine.perkowski@wbponline.com.


An American in Tiananmen on China’s National Day

An indelible image that changed world history -- October 1, 1949.

An indelible image that changed world history — October 1, 1949.

On Oct. 1, 1949, Mao Zedong read a statement before a bank of microphones and hundreds of thousands of people assembled in Tiananmen Square declaring the formation of the People’s Republic of China.

Sixty-four years later, I was one of the perhaps dozens of “westerners” visiting Beijing’s most famous landmark on China’s National Day holiday. It is a festive celebration, with special decorations, tourist-friendly hats, face painting, parades and family pilgrimmages.

The Lion and Mao. (Photo by Rick Dunham)

The Lion and Mao. (Photo by Rick Dunham)

The scene, I thought, was very much like the Fourth of July celebrations on the National Mall in Washington. Patriotism, pageantry, family, country.

My small group of three Americans (thanks, Caroline and Sara) tried to blend in with the hundreds of thousands — more probably, millions — of Chinese tourists. Well, we were never going to blend in. Caroline and Sara are striking young blondes, and perhaps a dozen Chinese families asked to have their photos taken with them. (Nobody asked me.)

We walked around Tiananmen, headed inside the main gate toward the Forbidden City, and then wandered through the historic core of old Beijing.

I hope this photo essay gives you a sense of the grandeur and the scope of the day.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.