When I heard that journalist Jenny Suo was set to takeover 1 NEWS Tonight early January 2019, I couldn’t help but beam at this news. Journalism is something I’m interested in – something I nearly majored in even – for as long as I can remember. I think it’s one of the most powerful forms of storytelling and the news plays such an important role in our everyday lives. I know it’s 2019 and we are consuming news in all sorts of ways, but to me that only means that we need traditional media even more. To have our stories told in a fair manner, to give a voice to someone who might not necessarily have the loudest, that is journalism at its finest. And we’re lucky to have Jenny on our TV screens every night!
We chat to Jenny about her cool new gig, diversity in mainstream media, and her very diverse dream list of people to have over for dinner!
Congratulations on the news! When I heard about the news, my reaction was actually something like “go sis!” How does it feel to be hosting 1 NEWS Tonight?
It’s still pretty surreal! I’m kind of walking around the newsroom in a daze, partly because I can’t believe I’ve got the job and partly because I still haven’t sorted out my sleep pattern yet!
Do you feel a certain pressure to represent women of colour – especially us Asian women – who are still not represented in mainstream media as much as we hope we’d be?
I don’t necessarily feel pressure, but I do believe it’s something we should be talking about. It’s a difficult one, because it can’t just be a token gesture. It’s not just about having ethnic faces fronting the mainstream media, we need to be able to tell our stories and express our opinions. My views will not be the view of every Chinese person either, so the more representation, the better. Diverse input is also valuable behind the scenes in the newsroom when we discuss what stories to cover and how to cover it. It’s not just my industry either, I think it’s important in every single office in NZ.
As a WOC, I’m always thinking about what can I do more of to be heard in mainstream media. To see that representation and see faces like mine in the news, on TV screens, in magazine and the like. Any advice? Especially for young girls who really want to identify with someone in the media or have a role model growing up.
I don’t remember having an Asian role model when I decided to pursue journalism, but I don’t think it ever occurred to me that I needed one to follow that path. If you’re interested in any field, go for it. Why do you need someone else like you to do it first?
What drew you into journalism? Has this always been a dream for you/career path you wanted to pursue?
As a kid, I recorded little news bulletins on cassette tapes. I even did the ads! I’m pretty sure my parents still have them somewhere! In high school, my friends and I entered documentary competitions and I always fell into the role of the journalist. I guess I’ve always loved to write stories. Writing is my favourite part of the job.
What do you hope to achieve in this new role? What kind of stories do you ultimately want to tell?
I am really passionate about conservation and environmental issues. I am also a bit of a science and technology nerd. I covered these areas while reporting for the 6pm news, and I intend on continuing that on 1NEWS Tonight. I want to tell stories that inspire people and promote discussion.
Speaking of stories – any highlights or stand-out stories that you’ve done so far?
I did a lot of work on the plight of the Uighur people in China toward the end of last year. I’m constantly blown away by people who trust us with their very personal, very harrowing stories. That one has stuck with me.
Top 3 people you’d like to have at your dinner party and what would you serve them?
Oh man, this is hard. J.R.R. Tolkien, Jane Goodall and Beyonce. Do I have to cook?! I don’t think they’d stay long if I cooked!
Tips on how to deal with haters?
You kind of have to have a thick skin, working in this industry. I don’t “deal” with haters. I just ignore them.
Lastly – what would you tell your younger self?
I was such a nerd growing up. I was so uncool! Looking back, I’m so glad I didn’t care about what others thought and just went my own way and did things that made me happy. I’d give my younger self a pat on the back and tell her to let that freak flag fly!
Catch Jenny on 1 NEWS Tonight weekdays from 10:30 pm on TVNZ 1.