LESSENING THE CULTURAL DIVIDE WITH XIN GONG
The United States is a country founded by people from other lands. The history of this unified country is made from a mixing of many different cultures. One of the constant struggles within America is how far the people of America go in assimilation while retaining the history of their individual heritage. St. Patrick’s Day, Christmas, Passover, many of the established holiday celebrations of the US are only present in the US because they were brought here by individuals who retained them from their previous places of residence and were vigilant in establishing them here. This same template applies to the news and media. SinoVision is a U.S. based Chinese language television network. Founded in 1990, SinoVision (an affiliated member of the Asian Culture and Media Group which also owns the East Coast edition of The China Press) has been one of the largest and most influential Chinese-language TV network in North America. Xin Gong is an example of the positive effect of Sinovision in our culture. Xin first became aware of the network as a viewer but later spent time as an editor for this vast network. While Xin spends her time these days working on films and documentaries, the experience she attained at Sinovision created benevolent results for herself, the network, and its viewers.
SinoVision’s direct television coverage blankets a population of more than thirty million, while worldwide people can watch SinoVision shows on its website through tablets and mobile devices. SinoVision’s headquarters are in midtown Manhattan. SinoVision also has offices in downtown Manhattan, Flushing, Brooklyn, Washington, D.C., Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Houston. Its flagship program is daily SinoVision Nightly News which is an hour long on weekdays and half-hour long on weekends. Gong based out of New York but cooperated with Sinovision’s reporters who cover the entire US. Sinovision’s staff of more than one hundred allows them to be far reaching but is demanding in order to blanket the entire country. Working at Sinovision is not a job that you do because you want to get rich; it’s a job you do because you care. Xin confirms that the work was intense and time consuming but the strong sense of comradery and the availability of real life skill testing made it a perfect avenue for an editor like herself who wished to be pushed. This kind of environment is conducive to new ideas, creativity, and rapid growth.
The director of Sinovision’s News Department, Tian Tian, chose Xin because of her proficiency in editing and comfortability operating a variety of cameras. In addition, Gong’s prior work experience working at Jiangsu TV station and People’s Daily Online West USA vetted her as a professional with talent and experience. Tian Tian remarks, “Everyone who has seen her work will admit that Xin Gong is a very professional video editor. I worked with Xin Gong on over one hundred stories. She is very careful, responsible, detail-oriented, and can work under pressure. Most of our projects focus on some major issues: immigration, public education, health, and many other areas. As an editor who came from China, Xin Gong is able to cross language and culture barriers, using her editing skills to catching every moment, showing emotional stories which care deeply for Asian-American, as well as other communities.”
An editor is as essential to telling the story properly as a director (any director worth their salt will agree with this) and Gong has proven this numerous times. When tasked with editing a documentary about John Youngaitis, the last taxidermist in New York, the footage provided was south of mundane. Immediately recognizing that the responsibility was upon her to create a spark that would interest the audience, Xin poured over copious amounts of footage. It’s an occupational hazard for Youngaitis that nothing is alive in the footage of his work experience, besides the taxidermist himself. Viewing the footage, Gong envisioned possible storylines behind the action onscreen. Combining different music beds with the footage, Xin implied a sense of motion and pacing. African music was used for John’s hunt, lighter music under the narration, and somber music for his contemplation of being the last of his profession in New York.
The dichotomous presentation of this would be the story Xin edited about Chinese scholar Yingying Zhang who had been kidnapped when she got into a car at a bus stop at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign campus on June 9, 2017. Cooperate with Chicago based reporter Honghui Qiu, Gong took part in presenting the real time events as they unfolded in a very dire circumstance. More than simply editing, Gong acted also as producer building the story as it evolved. Xin communicates, “Intense stories like this definitely take an emotional toll on me but I don’t think it is a bad thing, I take it as an advantage. If I work on a documentary, I think this kind of feeling can keep me in the right mood. In that way, the music I choose and the shots I pick may all make more sense. Because I’m affected by the story, I can deliver a better message and make a more touching story. If it is a news report, I won’t be affected by the mood. There is a certain pattern for me to edit a news report; I need to keep it as objective as possible. I can always control myself and be calm when needed.”
As someone who has worked in this environment in both the US and China, Gong has the benefit of comparing the two from an inside view. In her opinion there are no big differences between the Chinese media and American media. Both Americans and Chinese cultures are focused on same topics but Chinese people may more care more about the influence on Asian Communities and international students. It seems like many Americans aren’t aware of the fact that Chinese people are very interested in the opinions of Americans on certain subjects. It’s important for all people to know that we are connected. I have developed an understanding of American society and how Asian-Americans live in the US by working at Sinovision. I got more opportunities to assimilate into the American society.”