INMA Elevate Scholar: Bryan Chou of The News Lens

By Paula Felps


Nashville, Tennessee, United States


On October 28, 2021, INMA and Google News Initiative (GNI) awarded their Elevate Scholarship to 50 news media professionals around the world. This series features these impressive media professionals who are shaping our industry.

Even as a child, Bryan Chou was fascinated by words and writing. After majoring in foreign languages and literature at National Taiwan University, he found his calling when he went to Orchid Island, a site 60 miles from Taiwan’s east coast, as a volunteer teacher.

Bryan Chou is committed to giving a voice to underserved populations through his storytelling.
Bryan Chou is committed to giving a voice to underserved populations through his storytelling.

“I was forced to look at an unfamiliar face of injustice, and I questioned how many people, including the 4,300 Indigenous Tao people living with a massive nuclear waste storage site, have been struggling behind the scenes,” he said.

When he returned to school, he joined the student-run newspaper and applied for a part-time job with a local media company — both steps to help prepare him for a career that “gives voices to people through storytelling.”

As it turned out, all the scholastic decisions he had made up until that point supported his new plan: “Literature courses have helped develop [my] empathy, humility, and an appreciation for diversity, which characterise the best journalists,” he said. “I also took a double major in Library and Information Science, learning to manage, organise, and analyse data and information as librarians.”

In 2019, he began applying those skills as a news reporter. One year ago, he accepted the position of editor and writer at The News Lens, a bilingual Web site with a readership in Taiwan, Southeast Asia, and United States. This new role allows him to explore different possibilities in journalism, including multimedia journalism. And he remains committed to his original mission of giving a voice to the underserved and often unheard populations.

“I talk to and write extensively about groups of people deserving wider attention, from indigenous peoples protesting against development projects around their living areas to gay couples filing lawsuit against the government to get married,” he said.” I want to empower the subjects of injustices through storytelling.”

His empathy and intentions are backed by impressive skillsets, which Nicholas Haggerty, English editor at The News Lens, said is a rare and valuable find: “Beyond writing, Bryan has demonstrated remarkable talent as an editor. The task was unusually challenging as, because we’re based in Asia, English is a second or third language to many of our contributing writers.

“His success in this role, sometimes necessitating ‘open-heart surgery’ rewrites, was borne out in the many messages of thanks I saw from both writers who worked with him and appreciative readers.”

Moving forward, Chou is eager to continue helping nurture young writers while continuing to improve his own skills and giving a voice to others: “I hope to become the widely skilled storyteller I envision myself to be so that these stories will become more impactful than they could be today.”

About Paula Felps

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