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Ezra Vogel: Great scholar's important lessons to a journalist

How the educator's pragmatic views about the real world resonated with me

Ezra Vogel autographs his book on Deng Xiaoping at the Chinese University of Hong Kong in May 2012. (Photo by Kenji Kawase)

HONG KONG -- Ezra Vogel was a scholar, but he left many crucial lessons for a journalist like me: Get close to your coverage subjects, write based on thorough research and maintain insatiable curiosity on a wide range of topics. Of course, there are differences between an academic and a reporter, but for a Japanese journalist always struggling to cover China, as I do, his approach and methods act as relevant tutorials.

Given the limits, knowing and understanding what really is happening in mainland China has always been difficult for any outsider, despite the ever-growing demand for accurate information and analyses on the country. But since the people you want to cover are largely inaccessible, it is imperative to explore alternative ways of approaching them.

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