What’s it like covering East Asia as a foreign correspondent? In Spilling Ink, American journalist Jonathan Adams reveals the gritty reality of reporting from the world’s most dynamic region. Lured by the biggest story of the twenty-first century – the Rise of China – Adams’ first taste of Asia was interning in Hong Kong for the International Herald Tribune.
After working as a Newsweek stringer and Taipei Times “copy-monkey,” he made the leap to full-time freelancer, choosing fascinating but underreported Taiwan as his base. Adams’ decade-long adventure takes the reader from backstreet meetings with sex workers and fortune-tellers to the interviews with presidents (and inadvertently making the news rather than just reporting it). We track down Catholic vigilantes in a violent corner of Mindanao, experience the frenzied build-up to the Beijing Olympics, chase serious stories on algae blooms and labour relations, and pay the bills with clickbait stories on Japanese maid cafes and penis festivals.
And along the way we see the death of old media and the emergence of a new, leaner model. Spilling Ink (originally published under the title Welcome Home, Master) is an honest, funny, and revealing behind-the-scenes look at foreign reporting, a nuts-and-bolts account of finding, pitching and writing stories, of making a living as a freelance newsman. Part-travelogue, part Asian journalism primer, the book explains why Adams loved the job and why he ultimately left it.