“Telling people’s stories, to me, I think it’s the best job in the world.”

Yanqi Xu’s storytelling path came through her native country China. She eventually found her way to graduate school at the University of Missouri and now a reporter job with the Flatwater Free Press, a non-profit newsroom covering Nebraska. Yanqi works on long-term investigative projects and has spent much of her time working on stories about Nebraska’s problematic water supply.

Listen to my interview with her here.

Here are a few of the highlights.

Thank you Planet Money!

“Planet Money makes a t-shirt: That’s a multimedia project and that really.   was such a fascinating project that takes you from a bale of cotton in Mississippi to all the places that produce the t-shirt. So to Colombia, I believe Bangladesh and to see the people who produced that t-shirt.

That story really made me care about not only the facts but … how and why things got it to how they are essentially. Through that I kind of got more into multimedia storytelling, how to make people care essentially.  And then in grad school, I also tried different things and realized that actually I’m not that good at certain things in multimedia. So I’ll just try to really hone in on one thing and that’s more in-depth investigative storytelling.”

Learning to pick the right quotes is a skill

“The one thing that I find challenging is sometimes I’ll have all the notes from all my interviews. I just want to include them all in the story but you have to kind of scale back a little bit. You can’t just possibly include every minute detail in the story. You have to be intentional and choose and kind of think about the end product of what people actually read.”

Being a journalist has made her a more principled person

“I think that I’ve acted more on principles now. So if I see anything that shouldn’t be done that way, I’d speak up a little more. And also, I’ll try to think of ways to deal with that, that minimizes the harm but still tries to call out people when they do things that certainly shouldn’t be done.”