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Interview with Judy Lin (Journalist and International Business Researcher)

Judy Lin

1. Your work emphasizes writing tech stories with a human touch. Can you share what inspired you to take this approach and how it shapes your storytelling?

Technology reports used to cater exclusively to engineers, who were intensely focused on product specifications, features, and cost-performance ratios. These reports were often dry and superficial. However, the evolution of technology narratives has shown that innovation can stem from a human touch. Take, for instance, Nintendo’s introduction of the Wii. This launch piqued my interest in the brilliant minds behind the innovative device.

What inspired them to create a gaming system that transcended age barriers, allowing both children and adults to play together seamlessly? These are the narratives that have the power to motivate young individuals to pursue engineering careers, crafting innovative solutions that reshape the way we interact with technology. As I resumed my role at ‘DIGITIMES‘ international news desk in 2015, reporting on global technology trends and analyzing technological advancements, I found myself drawn to stories that showcase this human element in tech innovation

2. Having coached young business news translators and reporters at Reuters and Digitimes, what key advice do you offer to aspiring journalists?

Stay curious and observant – news springs up all around you. My mentors at Reuters instilled in me the values of honesty and kindness towards everyone. Only when you win the trust of people, will they start to provide you with valuable sources and information. Nevertheless, I now refrain from offering unsolicited advice, as not everyone welcomes it.

3. Your research spans various areas, including risk/crisis communication management and political economy. How do you integrate your research into your journalism work?

I specialized in risk/crisis communication and policy/regulation analysis during my studies at the London School of Economics and Political Science. This knowledge proves valuable when news events such as earthquakes affecting semiconductor fabs or pandemics cause panic to occur.

As a voracious reader with interests spanning history, economics, popular science, and social sciences, I believe that journalism revolves around covering news events. However, possessing knowledge and a network of experts allows for a deeper exploration or interpretation of impacts from a different perspective.

In a recent project titled “Why does China require US$47.5 billion for Phase 3 of the Big Fund despite concerns of chip oversupply?” I leveraged my understanding of China’s banking system and PBOC data to inform readers about the rationale behind state banks participating in Big Fund Phase 3. This shed light on how the fund’s magnitude may not directly translate into breakthroughs in semiconductor technology.

Political economy serves as a valuable tool in unraveling the repercussions of industries amidst power struggles. Additionally, insights from political science and theories on power interdependencies play a pivotal role in understanding these dynamics.

4. Can you discuss some of the emerging trends in MNE and social enterprise internationalization strategies that you’ve observed?

Multinational enterprises (MNEs) are increasingly focusing on ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) practices and achieving carbon neutrality due to pressure from their investors.

Consequently, Apple has mandated its supply chain partners to adopt environmentally friendly energy practices and subjected them to sustainability audits. Similarly, banks such as DBS are actively supporting social enterprises as part of their ESG initiatives.

An illustrative example of social enterprise internationalization is Japan’s Mother House. To learn more about their work, you can visit their website: here

5. You’ve covered a range of topics, from M&A and technology to AI, blockchain, and fintech. Which of these areas do you find most exciting currently, and why?

Certainly, AI remains a widely debated topic, with numerous perspectives shared by various individuals. While some tend to vilify or venerate this technology, it’s important to recognize that technologies, including AI, undergo lifecycles of their own. Personally, I prefer observing technology from a distance to discern its evolution and impact.

In terms of M&A narratives, one of the most intriguing stories I covered delved into the analysis of how Chinese internet giants were acquiring or investing in Southeast Asian startups, using them as springboards to enhance their influence in the region.

This particular article was penned in 2016. M&A data proves invaluable in supporting insights into the strategies implemented by these companies – illuminating their domestic competition dynamics and their approaches to seizing opportunities for growth on a global scale.

6. How do you approach covering complex macroeconomic issues in China to make them accessible and engaging for your readers?

I often request tech experts to simplify their explanations of complex technologies for me in everyday language. Subsequently, I offer explanations in simple terms, utilizing numerous analogies and examples to enhance comprehension.

Nonetheless, the policy rationale of a planned economy, as seen in countries like China, fundamentally diverges from that of a capitalist nation. In this context, journalists serve as vital bridges, offering essential background context and articulating information in a manner that resonates with Western readers.

7. Can you share a particularly memorable story or project that you worked on and its impact?

In 2014, I conducted an annual earnings analysis on Taiwanese insurance companies and uncovered some suspicious findings. Several companies exhibited exponential revenue growth, yet their losses were rapidly escalating at the same time. Seeking clarity, I reached out to industry experts for insights on the circumstances driving this anomaly and its underlying causes. Moreover, I obtained permission to interview a company’s CEO, who appeared to function as a mere figurehead under the chairman’s directives. The findings led me to conclude that insurance policyholders are likely to lose their financial protection if the company fails to correct its management style.

Subsequently, the Financial Supervisory Commission initiated investigations into this company, and another one flagged by industry professionals. The inquiry revealed that these companies were diverting funds from policyholders’ insurance premiums to bolster their investments. Consequently, the government intervened, prompting the closure of these entities and facilitating their acquisition by financially stable corporations.

This decisive action safeguarded the interests of the affected insurance customers. This investigative report was conducted during my tenure at CommonWealth Magazine.

8. How do you envision the role of journalists evolving in the next decade, especially with the rise of AI and other emerging technologies?

I see the role of journalists evolving in the next decade to adapt to the changing landscape influenced by AI and emerging technologies. Journalists will likely need to leverage AI tools for tasks such as data analysis, fact-checking, and content generation, allowing them to focus more on investigative reporting and in-depth analysis.

Additionally, journalists will be required to develop skills in understanding and interpreting technology, ensuring accurate and ethical reporting on tech-related topics. Collaboration between journalists and technologists will become crucial in navigating this evolving landscape, ultimately leading to more innovative and impactful storytelling that resonates with diverse audiences

9. Can you share your experiences working with Digitimes and how it has shaped your perspective on technology journalism and the broader tech industry?

DIGITIMES is an excellent employer that provides us with the freedom and flexibility to pursue stories that pique our interest. Its unparalleled resources, extensive network, and profound expertise in the semiconductor and ICT industries make it a leader of tech supply chain media in Taiwan.

Working here also provides the benefit of having access to industry leaders due to its network of business. We also have analysts who specialize in areas such as semiconductors, optoelectronics, AI, IoT, automotive technology, sustainability, and regional supply chain studies.

10. What message would you like to convey to the global community about the importance of integrity and responsibility in journalism?

Integrity and responsibility form the bedrock of journalism.

Without these pillars, one cannot truly embody the essence of a journalist. It’s vital to acknowledge that our name appears on the byline, underscoring the importance of approaching our work diligently and conscientiously each day.

Connect with Judy Lin: Judy Lin 林昭儀