Bloomberg's Bremner Discusses "Impactful" Feature Writing With Tsinghua Students

Brian Bremner, executive editor for Asian Enterprise for Bloomberg News, hosted a workshop on “Feature Writing that Make an Impact” for more than 100 students from the Tsinghua School of Journalism and Communication (TSJC).

Bremner, an American based in Tokyo, he compared and contrasted reporting techniques for breaking news and features stories during his campus visit on Oct. 26, 2015. Among his case studies were the industrial explosions in Tianjin, the death of Steve Jobs and the "Hello Kitty" phenomenon, a subject on which he wrote a book. 

He spoke about the value "creative sourcing" in writing profiles and long-form investigative journalism. One example was his Businessweek cover story on Japan's mafia, in which the key source was a tattoo-covered "Yakuza," who openly admitted to criminal acts during a series of interviews with Bremner, who was raised in the industrial cities of Chicago and Detroit.

"Success in journalism won't come easy," Bremner told the students who ranged from first-term freshmen to experienced reporters are attending Tsinghua's Global Business Journalism graduate program. Bremner said his career path over the past two decades was a combination of luck, having good co-workers and "keeping humble." 

“Revising is not the sign of weakness,” said Bremner, who has won numerous awards, including from the Overseas Press Club and Deadline Club. “It’s a sign of dedication and professionalism.”

Bremner was the latest participant in Tsinghua's “Bloomberg Lecture Series.” Among the previous speakers were Bloomberg Editor-in-Chief Emeritus Matthew Winkler, Executive Editor for Asia David Merritt and Executive Editor for Greater China John Liu. Interestingly, Bremner was promoted to executive editor, from being managing editor, just two days after his session at Tsinghua.

In a question-and-answer session, Bremner said being a journalist often involves making difficult choices. Among his examples were when to go into "danger" zones or how to talk to  people who just experienced tragedy. He told the students to be cautious, sympathetic and "remember that you, too, are a human being."

Most of the students were from TSJC Professor Lee Miller's business strategies and news writing classes. Miller, who is also Bloomberg editor-at-large, has a long friendship with Bremner. The two journalists grew up only a few kilometers apart in Detroit and worked together on a 5-part feature series for Bloomberg News in 1993 that earned the pair nominations from the Overseas Press Club, Pulitzer Prize and Livingston Foundation.