OLD Media Moves

WSJ’s Deng wins Livingston Award for international reporting

June 10, 2021

Posted by Chris Roush

Chao Deng

Wall Street Journal editor in chief Matt Murray sent out the following to the staff on Thursday:

Dear All:

Please join me in congratulating Chao Deng of the China bureau, who was honored today with the Livingston Award for Young Journalists in International Reporting. In a challenging year that pushed all of us to produce urgent and pressing work, the work of Chao—like that of our entire China team—has stood out for its sweep and power.

The Journal had already sent four staffers to Wuhan when it was locked down in February 2020, and two more had been stopped and detained by authorities just outside the city trying to get into the lockdown zone. Chao bravely decided to go there anyway. She stuffed as much PPE as she could fit into a suitcase and took the train from Beijing, having heard that trains passing through the city stopped on the platform long enough for someone to try and talk her way off the train and into the city. It worked. For the next few weeks, Chao—joined later by our researcher Kersten Zhang—donned protective covering and headed into the hospitals at the original center of the pandemic.

Along with Kersten, Chao was one of fewer than half a dozen journalists for foreign media outlets in Wuhan during the lockdown, providing a counterpoint to Beijing’s later account of that crucial period of history. Together, they produced powerful stories from the front lines, capturing chaotic scenes that would later play out in Italy, Brazil, India, the U.S. and elsewhere.

In doing so, they offered the world one of very few truly independent perspectives on what took place in Wuhan during those critical days. They took on considerable risk in heading towards a virus that was still little understood, and in telling a tale that deviated from Beijing’s emerging portrayal of its early response to the virus as one that was firm and effective. They took us into overcrowded hospitals with overworked doctors and introduced us to low-level Communist Party cadres making life-or-death decisions in Wuhan’s residential communities. Here is some of their work:




On February 19, China ordered Chao’s expulsion from the country and stripped Chao and Kersten of their press credentials, effective immediately. They were confined to their Wuhan hotel for more than a month before they were allowed to return to Beijing and, in Chao’s case, put on a flight out of the country.

Chao is now based in Taipei, where she continues to produce journalism of depth and distinction for our readers.

Chao’s honor is well deserved, and worthy of our gratitude and admiration. It’s also a reminder of how many of you, like Chao, found yourselves in unusual, challenging and even dangerous circumstances last year. In celebrating her, we are all reminded that the need for and power of deeply reported, compelling and insightful journalism has never been greater.



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