Rachel Shoemaker '05 Offered Fulbright
Rachel Shoemaker, a 2005 Occidental College graduate, has been offered a prestigious Fulbright Scholarship to spend a year in Taiwan comparing the work environments of mainland Chinese journalists stationed in Taiwan and Taiwanese journalists stationed in the mainland.
While China claims Taiwan as a province, the island has long sought independence and press practices vary between the two. In 2001, Taiwan allowed journalists from mainland China to cross the Strait of Taiwan and work there on a rotational basis for a month at a time to increase mutual understanding.
“The entry of China and Taiwan into the World Trade Organization in 2001 should have increased journalism exchanges between the two regions, but thus far the WTO’s reach has fallen short of the strait,” said Shoemaker, who at Occidental earned an independent pattern of study degree that involved interpreting and translating Chinese, French and German.
“Through a series of interviews of mainland journalists in Taiwan and Taiwanese journalists recently returned from the mainland, I will analyze the contrasts in their work environments and the effects these differences have on their role as agents in cross-strait relations.”
Shoemaker’s study will focus on newspaper journalists, as newspapers are the most restricted form of media in both content and circulation. “While research has been conducted to analyze censorship, the coverage of major events, and media interactions between China and Taiwan, there is a lack of studies focusing on journalists themselves,” she said.
The work builds on research Shoemaker has been conducting for more than a year. She lived in Beijing for seven months in 2004. Shoemaker, who is fluent in Mandarin, has already developed ties to reporters at two mainland Chinese news organizations in Taiwan – the People’s Daily and Xinhua News Agency.
“It is the issues with which China is currently grappling that most excite me: access to information, access to justice, human rights, the status of ethnic minorities and political development,” she said.
Shoemaker, a 2001 graduate of James E. Taylor High School in Katy, will take at least one journalism class at the Chinese Cultural University in Taipei.
She joins Jamie Ko ’05 of Warren, Ohio, Elisabeth Sewall ’05 of Portland, Maine, and Nalika Gajaweera ’04 in winning a Fulbright this year. The quartet are the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh Occidental students in two years to receive the award, which covers travel, education and living expenses. The Fulbright Program was established in 1946 under legislation introduced by Sen. J. William Fulbright of Arkansas.