Chai interviewed both sets of parents on her show. When Zhang's mother broke into tears, the host sat closeby, respectfully refraining from pressing with questions. During her interview with Yao's father, when her guest mentioned his opposition to the cornea donation, Chai said she secretly pressed her palm with her pen to suppress the urge to unleash any accusations.
The episode immediately attracted public attention. Chai's hands-off interview style allowed her audience to see a new perspective on what had been a highly publicized trial.
"My views on the case changed dramatically after that show. I grew up with very strict parents also, and I wonder if I would have felt the same fear Yao felt," a blogger named Zi Yusheng wrote.
Instead of commenting on hot-button issues, Chai tries to tell a story as it is and leave the audience to make up their own minds. "By removing all those bubbles on the surface, I try to uncover what really matters," she said.
To be a faithful recorder
In her blog on China's news portal Sina, Chai comments on each of her interviews in an introspective manner, often exposing her own weaknesses, winning her praise from countless fans.
"Chai's blog, full self-examination, has served as an extension of her TV program," said Xu Hong, a journalism professor at Peking University. "With over 50 million page views, she has built a lot of influence, especially among young intellectuals."
During an interview with Eckart Loewe, a German who teaches in a remote village in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region and is devoted to left-behind children, Chai openly stated that she was in no way qualified to understand his hard work and dedication.
"That was the most difficult interview I've done. All the questions I prepared went nowhere. I had to admit my ignorance, and try to feel the way he feels about his life, as I believe feeling is the source of truth," said Chai.
Many of Chai's fans say that she always gives special care to people, especially those who are disadvantaged and those living on the margins of society.
An admirer of famous Italian reporter Oriana Fallaci, Chai said she respects Fallaci's courage and her strong personality; she strives to maintain a career that is devoted to journalism and avoids being confined by labels and stereotypes.
"I only focus on doing what a reporter should do: to record, observe and present the news. During an interview, I am only responsible for that moment, nothing else," said Chai.
After more than 10 years in the news industry, Chai says her passion for journalism has not faded, but that something has indeed changed. "I used to love being in the middle of breaking news. But now, I enjoy meeting people and feeling their lives."
As a reporter, Chai said she used to get frustrated when her reports failed to bring changes to the people she wanted to help, but this no longer bothers her.
"As former BBC Director-General Mark Thompson said, the media should provide light, not warmth, to the world. Journalists should offer a truthful presentation of the news, but never intervene."
"The camera is simply there. It's not seeking anything, nor covering anything up. I am a reporter, learning about someone's life, and I enjoy every moment," Chai added.
Source: Global Times